The Starks’ business strategy can be summed up as doing what they want to do, when they want to do it. Most products, including sunglasses, are designed and manufactured in the LA factory by artisans who have been trained and employed for many years, some for decades. Some goods are made in Italy or France, such as B. Baccarat’s longstanding barware collaboration.
They have no interest in meeting retailers’ demands for timely collections, commercial product lines, or charge-back schemes. Instead of launching products with efficient inventory systems, Richard smuggled countless products around Chrome Hearts’ sprawling LA factories. They’re mysteries waiting for their moment, he says.
Getting Richard to agree to an interview is not a sure thing. He does not like her. Once he agrees, he calls over Facetime and points the camera differently at his face and ear canal.
“Hardcore types of investment bankers – they couldn’t handle me. No way,” he says. “[Chrome Hearts is] kinda heartbreaking. It’s not money driven.” He adds, “I’m not going to make slippers for hotels in Asia just because I could make a damn fortune doing it.”
The Starks control Chrome Hearts, but when the kids were little, Laurie Lynn says, they hired a “minor minor” investor who has no say in management but is familiar with the company and its ethos. Rather than raising money, the investment was estate planning, she says, so an adult could step in if something happened to them while the kids were little. They do not disclose financial data.
In a system reminiscent of Italian fashion dynasties, the Starks hire family and friends, creating a close-knit beating heart. Laurie Lynn’s mother handles the knitwear; Her brother does the 3D molding. A nephew takes care of the logistics.
“We literally have schools, we nurture, we harvest everyone, young and old, from every culture,” says Laurie Lynn. They teach interested workers jewelry making, furniture carving, cutting and sewing, and 3D rendering.
“Most companies adopt a corporate structure; They’re like, ‘Oh, your EBITDA is that, you should sell that,'” she adds. “But it’s not mysterious or sexy or magical. Business people settle on a formula. This is the biggest mistake young brands make.”
Raising their children between their home in Malibu and their ever-expanding factory complex in the Hollywood apartments, the Starks were able to start their own brands as teenagers. Kristian ran a surf adventure wear label with high school buddies for several years. His twin sister, Frankie Belle, has a swimsuit label, Dipped in Blue. Thirty-year-old Jesse Jo is a musician with a new album and 469,000 Instagram followers, and one of her best friends is Bella Hadid. She has screen printed concert merch herself at the Chrome Hearts factory.