Meet Michelle and Ash Ghoulmore, the husband-and-wife team behind Kreepsville 666, "home of the original scare wear." At their Los Angeles retail store Monster A GoGo, the gruesome twosome bring their love of the macabre to conversation starters like their meat cleaver purse, Baphomet goat head backpacks and bloodshot eyeball hair accessories. They also sell a selection of their spooky merchandise at Sweet!, a novelty store on Hollywood Boulevard, but that’s not all.
“We have two Shopify websites and we sell on Amazon, and then we sell through the POS in our own store,” Michelle says. The Ghoulmores also do retail conventions and trade shows, about 12 a year. “We sell directly into the system when we do trade shows; we take preorders and then sell all that wholesale. We also have pop-up locations that are actual physical stores, so we use Cin7 in that capacity, to set up new branches.”
Hailing from Aberdeen, Scotland, the Ghoulmores have been in the business of alternative fashion since 1996, when Michelle, then 19, opened a store there under the auspices of a local business trust mentoring young entrepreneurs. At the time, the store, called Retro Rebels, sold primarily American brands such as Tripp, Lip Service, Lucky 13 and Demonia and was one of the first alternative companies in the UK to start selling online.
A Dark Dream Realized
All eyes on Miley Cyrus: The “Wrecking Ball” singer sports Kreepsville’s eyeball bag on her way to a mani-pedi.
Following their growing success, the pair were inspired to do their own thing. Through Ash’s talent for design and their shared love of horror, Kreepsville 666 was born in 2006, named after a song by Ash’s favorite horror rock band, Forbidden Dimension. Ash, as the Overfiend of Dark Thoughts, was the creative genius while Michelle, the Corpse Grinder, managed, well, everything else. They sold their darkly humorous wares at their store as well as to other retailers around the globe. “That’s kind of how the brand got its name so worldwide, because we did that,” Michelle explains. “We did the wholesale and retail.” Supplementing the Kreepsville lineup of original designs is licensed merchandise featuring camp horror icons Vampira, Elvira and Vincent Price.
Traveling frequently to the US for Magic and other trade shows, the Ghoulmores soon realized that Los Angeles was the place to be and set about moving their operations stateside. “People [there] love horror. They love suspense, the spookiness and quirkiness of it. One thing I first noticed when I came to America was the haunted houses and theme parks getting all crazy at Halloween. That was a really big surprise for me, a whole other world.” Arriving in 2011, the Ghoulmores set up shop on Melrose Avenue in 2012.
Since then, Kreepsville 666’s mash-up of horror, camp and lashings of the occult has made fans out of several famous fashionistas, including tattoo artist Kat Von D, Japanese pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and beer heiress Daphne Guinness. Watching a documentary about the socialite’s life, Michelle was gobsmacked to see Daphne pull the meat cleaver purse from her wardrobe of designer duds.
“I guess that's a good summary of how our brand is,” she says. “Someone can wear it as an extreme, more alternative look, like the Hot Topic kind of customer, or for Halloween or if they just want to add an edge to an outfit. People assume that all our customers are kind of crazy-looking, but there’s a lot of regular people who use our stuff. They like it because it’s a bit of a statement for them. I usually describe Kreepsville 666 to people saying it’s horror- and Halloween-influenced, but it’s a fashion brand. So it’s not costume; it’s straight-up fashion. People wear it all year round.”
This year-round demand across multiple channels certainly keeps the Ghoulmores busy, necessitating a robust and feature-rich inventory management system: “When we came [to the United States], we did some big changes to our software. Then we hit a point five years down the line where we were like, this software solution is no longer for us. The software wasn’t advancing in the direction we wanted it to advance, and it felt almost like it wasn’t for our industry anymore. It felt more like it was for people selling like services rather than products, and it wasn’t very user-friendly.
“I was spending all my time trying to find ways around doing things or finding errors in the software then reporting them. But if you’re spending your day just trying to learn your software, you’re not progressing your business.”
By this time, Kreepsville 666 was sold on Amazon, a B2B site, a Shopify retail site and at their brick-and-mortar store as well as retail and wholesale shows. Michelle simply didn’t have time for software troubleshooting and needed something more customizable. “I knew that we needed to change something, because I wanted to grow more, I wanted to expand, but I knew that I couldn’t do it using the software I was using.”
Around that time, she “suddenly became this expert on every inventory management software out there.” After extensively researching a number of products, Michelle had narrowed it down to Cin7 and one other, which she initially went with. While it was “super user-friendly,” it couldn’t cope with manually input orders. “I realized this quite quickly, and after a month, I knew that it wasn’t going to work. I was like, I need to jump ship now.”
Third Time’s a Charm
The decision to switch wasn’t one Michelle arrived at lightly, having spent two months implementing the software. “If you’re with it for a minute, it’s like all your sales and stuff are in there. It was horrible. A really stressful time.” After speaking with Cin7 and telling them of her need to move and move quickly, to her relief, “it was actually kind of easy. Really, really, really good. I can’t say how much I love Harish for all the help he gave me!” she says of her Cin7 principal developer. “He helped me get things set up and got everything working.”
Michelle immediately took to the functionality of Cin7, finding that it “did so much more” than what her old software was capable of. “I wanted something that I wasn’t limited with. I didn’t want it to be that I would change over and that was it, that I was at the maximum of what I could use it for. I want to add more stores. I want to add in different channels like eBay, so there’s room for growth there.”
Michelle and the Kreepsville team even attended Cin7’s LA Customer Training Day last May and found it very insightful. “They’ve kind of got their finger on a lot of it where they know the industry, and they’re keen to advance as the industry advances. I know a lot about software and how important the right software is to a company; I also understand how quickly software and channels can change.” She cites the rapid ascent of Amazon over the last 10 years as an example of why Cin7’s adaptability is so important. Among the features she finds most useful are branch transfers: “You can have a master warehouse and push stock to different locations, depending on where your stock is,” whether it’s consignment stores or stock “in limbo” allocated for conventions. She’s also interested in using Cin7’s pick-and-pack feature for her warehouse.
Speaking of which, the Kreepsville team are in the process of moving into a bigger building in East LA, on Whittier and Atlantic, an up-and-coming shopping district. “We can be a bit more settled and we can do some quirky stuff in the store that creates a destination rather than just shopping.” Michelle envisions events, product launches and even integrating an AR element in the form of a downloadable app. “Using their phone, they would scan over certain things, whether it be artwork or products in the store. And then, all of a sudden, these things come to life. I want it to be a fun place where people have photo ops and then use that on social media. So it’s going to be much more of an experience than just going there and buying some stuff.”
Upon moving to the States, Michelle’s plan was to stick to wholesale only. Fatigued from years of running a retail store, she initially decided against doing it again but is glad she changed her mind. “Now it’s like, I love it. I love that people can just drop into the store and you meet such a mix of different styles of people. Like yesterday, some people had driven 75 miles to come and see our store!” Michelle and Ash look forward to giving Monster A GoGo visitors even more to see and do.
The expanded facilities will also allow them to consolidate product currently scattered across several locations, due to the size limitations of their Melrose store. “It will be nice to have all of our products in one place, have a bigger store and then actually focus on making the brand a bit bigger.” At this strategically chosen location, Michelle and Ash plan to paint a mural featuring their favorite horror heroes: Vampira, Elvira and Vincent Price. “I think it will be a real eye catcher for people driving by. And behind the store, we’re going to have our warehouse pull-and-pack. So, yeah, it’s going to be good.”