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"I immediately got picked up by Vogue!" with Oceanus founder Hannah Attalah




This is Hannah Attalah for Female Startup Club.


Hello everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here - your host and hype girl.

Joining us today on the show is Hannah Attalah - the founder of Oceanus. If you’re building a business in the fashion industry this episode is a sparkling gold mine when it comes to getting started, finding your manufacturer and understanding the importance of your unique point of difference.


FOUNDER STORY

  • Travelling Asia when I first discussed the idea of starting this brand (Gili Islands) - had spent a few years developing hand embroideries and selling these to different fashion houses and connecting them with factories 

  • At the beginning I didn’t have the capacity for a full fashion label, having to do different patterns every season really stressed me out… I thought swimwear would be slightly easier 


FINDING A MANUFACTURER 🤝


A lot of manufacturers don’t take you seriously at the beginning unless you’re doing volume. To find a manufacturer that will take you on with low quantities in one of the biggest challenges. 


I would recommend always visiting the factory if you can to develop the relationship. I would go to India very frequently and connect with the people there. 


For someone that doesn’t have any recommendations or network in the space: start with the trade shows (Premier Vision, Interfilia), start with those and initially start with a small collection. Find someone that can be patient and willing to nurture your growth. Someone who understands that. It’s better when you meet people face to face and discuss your product. A lot of factories have their time wasted: everyone wants to start a brand but many people don’t pull through. For them it’s a big investment to make your samples, and if you don’t go into production that’s a total waste. Come to them with this understanding of their position in mind. They need to know that you’re 100% serious. Learn more about them, it has to be the right fit. They’ll respect it more if you ask the right questions. 


LAUNCH 💖


We launched with an interesting campaign that immediately got picked up by Vogue. We collabed and to this day it’s one of our strongest ever campaigns. Although we weren’t ready for all of these eyeballs, we spent a long time chasing our tails and going through brutal mistakes. Not stocking up. I was always running around and seriously hustling to make it work, it was chaotic. You kind of don’t expect to get orders straight away. 


WHAT CHANNEL WORKED FOR YOU? ✨


Social media advertising has been vital. My main learning is that if it’s going well, don’t change it. That applies to everything. If you come across other things that sound interesting but what you’re doing is actually working, don’t switch it up. If it’s not broken don’t change it!


THE MONEY PIECE 💸


Bootstrapping the company for 3-4 years. What really helped is that we’d already proven ourselves on DTC, when you’re making a certain level of revenue every month there’s a certain level of loans that you can apply for (Wayflyer, Clearco). We did recently receive external investment but it took a long time and I turned down three offers before accepting something that I felt was acceptable. It’s a real testament to the business to have people knocking at the door. Our investor has been a massive fan of the brand since the early days, and that helps. Find someone who loves your product or is already working with you and can understand the business first hand. Fashion is such a high-risk investment unless you really understand the business, so you need to get someone on board who does. 


Advice: don’t get too overwhelmed by looking at how you’re going to do this, start by looking at your product. Is it unique? Have something recognizable. The more recognizable your product is, the more valuable it is. You can really blow up if you master the art of social media and having an incredible product. From that you can bootstrap your way up. There’s always going to be a bit of a struggle when it comes to capital, you’re always going to be able to do with having more. Figure out early on your product, it all comes back to that.


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