The Definitive Guide to Business with Marcus Lemonis

'The Profit' star Marcus Lemonis identifies a common mistake that wrecks businesses

When Flex Watches started out as a watch brand with a social purpose in 2010, the company had a clear mission.

"We started with 10 colors, 10 charities, and we donated 10 percent," said Travis Lubinsky, co-founder of Los Angeles-based Flex Watches along with Trevor Jones.

"We wanted to make an impact with something that we felt was cool and affordable," Jones said.

Sales of the $35 interchangeable watches were strong in years one and two, but by 2013, the company suddenly veered from its mission. Caving to requests by large retailers seeking higher-price watches, Flex Watches started selling sports watches gilded in gold and marketing themselves as a hip California lifestyle brand.

But straying from the original brand and messaging nearly destroyed the business, serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis said on the latest episode of CNBC's "The Profit."

Flex Watch co-founders Trevor Jones (L) and Travis Lubinsky during a meeting with creative agency Oishii Creative.
CNBC
Flex Watch co-founders Trevor Jones (L) and Travis Lubinsky during a meeting with creative agency Oishii Creative.

"If you guys have a mission, you should stick to your mission," Lemonis said.

"The further they got away from their original story and the charity aspect and started making watches that weren't fun, ... the worse their numbers got," he said.

Sales fell from $979,000 in 2012 when the original watches were being sold to just $279,000 in 2015, a 71 percent decrease.

It became clear that customers were not as interested in the new styles or the company's new identity.

After years of sluggish sales and with help from Marcus Lemonis and print company Printed Village, Flex Watch recently redesigned its watches and styled them to represent 10 different social causes.
CNBC
After years of sluggish sales and with help from Marcus Lemonis and print company Printed Village, Flex Watch recently redesigned its watches and styled them to represent 10 different social causes.

With an interest in the brand's original social purpose and design, Lemonis invested $400,000 for 40 percent of the business. He pushed the Flex Watches team to redefine their purpose, and with it, the brand.

The team worked with creative branding agency Oishii Creative to develop a vision board, and ultimately shed their California-inspired chic lifestyle identity for its original passion-driven charitable one.

With added advice from an internet marketing firm and printing agency, by the end of the episode they'd successfully rebranded back to the 10 colors, 10 causes model, only now with a greater sense of pride and purpose.

Flex Watch’s Travis Lubinsky, Brad Lubinsky and Trevor Jones pitch their redesigned watches to global retailer Flip Flop Shops. By the end of the meeting, they agreed to partner together.
CNBC
Flex Watch’s Travis Lubinsky, Brad Lubinsky and Trevor Jones pitch their redesigned watches to global retailer Flip Flop Shops. By the end of the meeting, they agreed to partner together.

With a new and improved $55 watch, Flex Watches secured a partnership with global retailer Flip Flop Shops.

"When I first met these guys, they didn't have a direction; they didn't know who they were," Lemonis said. But by the end of the episode, Flex Watches was telling an authentic, mission-driven story.

"At a minimum, I expect them to [make] $1 million," Lemonis said.

CNBC's "The Profit" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EDT.