How to launch a fashion forward footwear brand with Lisa Seskin, founder of LMS
A conversation about footwear with Lisa Seskin, the founder of Australian label LMS.
If you’ve ever wondered what the process is to manufacture and produce a footwear label from scratch - this is an episode for you. We’re going over the challenges Lisa faces in building this business and the big wins she’s had - like being worn by mega celebs Bella Hadid and Emma Roberts - and exactly how she did it.
We chat about the pros and cons of wholesale, what she thinks about retail stores and the benefits of being a true DTC brand.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
This is Lisa Seskin for Female Startup Club. Tell me about LMS, Why footwear? Why did you decide to start a footwear brand? So well for those of you don't know, I started L. M. S a year ago or just over a year ago, so I launched in january in 2000 and 19. And for me, owning my own business was something I always wanted since I was young since I was in school, it was something I always told the story that whenever I was you know scared or had nightmares when I was younger, I would think, you know, like I always think of that one thing that channel just to make you feel better and my thing was think about that day when you're going to be you know what we call now, like a boss bit, you know like we're owning your own business and like having your own company.
00:02:20Edit That was always my dream from as long as I can remember, and then footwear for me was something I always just saw as a big gap in the market. So my background is in I've been in the fashion industry for around 10 years and I was a buyer before I had friends and people coming up to me, he would often come and ask me for styling or fashion advice saying where can I get shoes, I want, comfortable heels or she was like a way to work and I really struggle with an answer when I, when I would normally always be able to find an answer and you know, then to kind of validate obviously it's all well and good having a thought in your head, you know, this is my idea, you really have to validate it. So what I did was just something simple and just sort of brand map and I put together all the brands in the kind of clothing and apparel space and where they would sit in the market based on price and fashion ability and you know, there was just so many amazing clothing and apparel brands especially in the local Australian market like at a good price but that's fashion forward and kind of suits, you know the customer that is that you know looking up to that fashion girl and so you look at brands eggs for the label, faithfull, the brand Hansel and Gretel bec and bridge just to name a few and there was a lot of brands like that's sitting in there, especially in the local market and then when you do the same graph for footwear there was just like not even nearly the same amount of players and like there's you know, there's a lot on the cheaper end or a lot on the higher luxury front but to kind of go after that customer who is buying it back and bridge dress and wants to go out or who's wearing a Hansel and Gretel suit to work, they just didn't feel like there was that footwear equivalent.
00:04:00Edit Why do you think there wasn't that equivalent there? I don't know. I think there's a few brands who have tried and are in their own way, kind of helping cover that gap. You look at brands extend so on. Susanna have been out there for a while, but in my opinion, I think they're more catered to that more safer consumer unless the super fashion forward girl and I always a hard category and I guess it's, you know, when you're in your own cloud of, you know, I've got such a good idea and why has no one done it? You don't always think, why hasn't anyone done it, But Footwear is very challenging. You've got sizes, you got about 6-7 sizes, you have to deal with and, and it's not like with clothing, if you buy a dress online and maybe a little bit big, you can get it taken in or you can just wait a bit oversized, you can't do that with football, like you have to fit. So there are definitely limitations and challenges that I found along the way and, and that's perhaps why there are that many players. Yeah. And so when you were doing the brand, I forget the term you used, mind my thing map. Yeah, and you found the gap, then we're like, okay, yep, that's what I want to do, that's what I'm going to start.
00:05:04Edit Yeah, I think that validate to me to be honest. Before, you know, I got deep into that process. Footwear was on my mind for so long, but then I think once I actually put it down on paper, done it myself a business plan and spoken to some people, um you know, my dad's a mentor of mine and my boyfriend is now my fiance is also and you know, just trying to people kind of, even some friends or peers and just getting their thoughts and it just to help validate your idea that is when it really, I guess blocked it in for me. And so what was the next step? Do you have to get some investors on board or did you use your own startup capital? Because I imagine it was quite expensive to start a brand in what ways is expensive because you've got to hold on to inventory and stock like you know how the clothing brands or any inventory type of business. It is expensive and warehousing fees, none of that come into it. But the next step for me was finding a manufacturer. So I guess product is the most important part when, especially when you're having a good, like you're starting a good business is finding your product. So I was really sold on manufacturing in Portugal and I kind of saw myself an idea like amazing, I'm gonna go to Portugal twice a year, like european holiday and it sounds more appealing than you know where most people manufacturer in Asia.
00:06:19Edit So I went down that path and I found a great factory, they tell me they worked with Islam Iran and that was just already like a big selling point for me and at the same time I had you know spoke to a few of my connections and someone I admit quite a long time ago said you know I've got a factory in china that produce a really great high quality leather shoes and let me put you in touch so I kind of wasn't that keen but I just thought you know also just send them my design initial designs and I'll get some samples back. So you know I'm pretty much through the process of chatting to the Portuguese factory on Facetime and chatting to them and then just out of nowhere they completely ghosted me and I just didn't yeah I didn't hear I take them all my designs, I didn't hear from them and I spoke to a few other people and they said yeah that sometimes happens is someone I know a friend of mine said her sister had a brand and was manufacturing Portugal and they actually stole their designs at the same time then myself came back from china and I was like wow, I was so impressed and they completely exceeded my expectations.
00:07:22Edit And I thought, you know what, like there's a reason why china is so good is that they just, they just good at their jobs. And I think another next step for me. And what I think it's important for people who are starting a brand to know is I'm actually not a designer by trade. I was more in the business side of things and and a buyer so I can't sketch a shoe and I can't design it in a technical way. But I've got ideas and I've got a vision and so I sent across like some reference images and just like for one shoe I would tend like 10 images like this is the hell I want, this is the material I want, this is the straps I want. And so it's in that to china and they actually, the fact that they interpreted that in such an amazing way and came back with samples that I couldn't fault was just amazing for me. And that's how I guess started that next journey by having a product. I think it's really important for people listening to understand that you don't have to be qualified and you don't have to have the technical skills in what you want to do because for me as well, having the jewelry brand, I'm not trained in it. I'm not a jewelry designer, but I had the vision and I had an idea of how I wanted to go about it and you just, it's a probably a longer process because you have to stumble all the way, but I think it's quite inspiring when you talk to other people who are also in that same boat.
00:08:37Edit A friend of mine, indica chew. She also in the podcast was talking about the fact that she didn't have any technical skills kind of from a qualification standpoint, but she had sewn with her mom growing up and she was interested in fashion that way, but she'd never gone to uni or anything and yeah, it's so amazing. Yeah, I think it's so important tonight and I've noticed that along the whole way of, you know, starting the business and running it is that you often think I can't do that, it's not my skill set. But the minute you put your mind to it, if you're inclined to be an entrepreneur, start your own business, nothing is unachievable. And I learned that the hard way is that, you know what for me was most confronting was branding and you're designing a logo and all that. And I thought, and I kept trying to say, I'll get this person to help me, I'll get that person to help me and eventually everyone just let me down and I ended up finding a logo online with this random font and I just sent it to the factory because they needed a logo like urgently and that was my biggest lesson because it just made me realize that you can do anything. Like you don't need to rely on anyone because no one cares as much as you, you're the only one who cares about your business, the way that it needs to be careful.
00:09:42Edit So yeah. And I also think sometimes you just need that like nudge to just move quickly and instead of spending six months being like, oh, I can't start yet because I don't have my logo, you're saying here it is, that's done next step. What else can I do? Exactly? And every dollar matters. So like for me to go get a logo, maybe I have to like no other people pay thousands of dollars for a logo. My fiance often tells me like, you don't always have to go to market with the most perfect product because perfect isn't realistic. So rather have something you want to be happy with it, but it's not going to be perfect to start off with. I changed my logo a few months later, but you know, to get where I needed to be at the time. I wanted to, I had to settle for a logo that was fine. It was nice and you can always evolve and change. I think it was Gary V who said if you're not embarrassed about the first version of your product, like you didn't launch fast enough. So yeah, I've seen that. It's true. I really agree with, I can put my hand up for that. Okay, so you've got the samples back.
00:10:43Edit You love the samples then what I imagine from producing in china, there's like big minimum orders, You've got to basically commit to fully launching this, what was the next phase? So for me, because of my, my background, I worked at blue Stores, the buyer. But I had I also worked on the wholesale side of our business. So I had interactions with other retailers, like the iconic and David jones. So for me, I wanted to get some opinions from other retailers and I was looking, I was going to look down at wholesale route. So I had my samples and again, to just validate my idea and validate my designs. I wanted to show them to other people. So I showed them to, you know, some retailers. And I actually got an amazing response. And again, that's what you know, made me more confident in my idea and my business. So I did that in my gut. I just knew I wanted to be a direct to consumer business, meaning I sell directly to the customer and I don't hold sales to any retailers. I've seen other brands have such success from it. You know, you look at Glossier, you look at realization part, you look at reformation, a lot of these huge social media brands, you know, that everyone knows started this way or still going this way by being direct to consumer because you're able to really create a strong brand identity, you're able to have one on one interaction steal customers.
00:12:00Edit So you know that's what I then decided after kind of exploring the wholesale side of things, I decided to go ahead with being direct to consumer. So you're right, there were the minimums are high and I had to commit to units that were probably scary and even now they think of it, I think I'm crazy for doing it. How many pieces did you have to buy? So per shoe, I had to commit to 200 pieces but I can split that across colours. So at the time some of them I needed two colors but as I've gone on I've spread it across more colors. So then I put an order through and just back to a question on investment, I did put a lot of my own money. So I've been working since while I was at uni, I started working full time, I had savings that I was able to put into the business to fund the first production run. I was also lucky enough my family was, they were happy to give me a loan which is very lucky but also is always like this bird and kind of hanging over you that you you know these people you know that you know you have to pay back so it's sometimes harder then having to pay back someone a complete stranger.
00:13:06Edit So yeah, I went and put my production run through and then I had to go and start setting up a website, which again was a skill set that I had no idea what to do, but like I said, I always say that I think Shopify is website for dummies because it's just the easiest platform and I highly recommend it to anyone. And I just, I navigated through, I watched youtube videos like I asked around and I and I set up this website and again, I know lots of people have spent $20,000 plus on building a website because they're intimidated to start their own website, but like it's really easy and like I said, you can put your mind to anything, everything was in production and I set up the website and then my biggest thing was how I was going to market this brand because there's one thing having a product but you need customers to buy it. And so I started trying to build a social media account. So let's talk more about marketing the brain around the launch and how you started building your instagram followers because obviously starting in your account from scratch can be so daunting, How did you start getting your community there?
00:14:07Edit I was giving advice. It's important to start building the community or some sort of digital presence. So I started an instagram and I started just kind of putting together like a mood board on instagram with inspiration, images and all that and hashtag ng and just getting something out there. So he gave me a good base, I think I might, might have started with a few 100 followers from that, which is a good base because if we follow follow account, the other thing that's really, really important that I always tell people is you have to be your biggest promoter, so get your brand out there. So on instagram, on my own personal instagram, I always shout out about the brand like, hey guys, I'm starting my new brand, like target, get your friends and your family to share it around, just again, like when you're starting out, it's really hard to build, follow it. So having people I know friends of friends supporting the brand again got it to probably around 1000 followers, which was a really, really good foundation. So yeah, definitely just put yourself out there and every conversation that you have for someone, you meet someone and they ask what you're up to.
00:15:10Edit Just, I'm starting my own brand, you know, and even my fiance would always go out when you went out for drinks or many people, he messaged me, but I just got you a follower because you talk to people and tell them you should follow the brand. So that was really helpful. So just make sure you got some, you know, ambassadors, your friends family, your partner on your side, you know, kind of trying to score, you'll follow it every day. And then from that, once I launched the brand and I had some sort of a foundation of a following. What's really important is just start doing some social competition. So whether it's just, you know, doing a giveaway to win a free pair of shoes in my case and, you know, tag your friends in the comments below, and and that really, really helps again, the order following. So, I would, every time I did a competition, I would see a few 100 followers come from that. And then even collaborating with other brands, you might come across other brands who were at the same kind of, you know, starting point of view with a similar follower following base, even if they were a bit more followers, That's great and they're willing to do it and doing combined giveaways again and you're accessing their audience. So that's really important.
00:16:12Edit And a great way to increase your following. And then, for me, a few months before I launched the brand by working at gloried, seeing the importance of influencer marketing, you know, in order to your brand to be desired by the current market, which is, you know, a millennial customer. They need to see it on people that they follow or, you know, people that they aspire to. So I started reaching out to, I wrote, you know, put together a list of, you know, probably about 100 influences that I followed or that I thought really embodied the brand and that was again, some great advice I received was from an influence. A friend of mine was when you are going to reach out to influence and make sure they really embody your brand, make sure you can see your product on them, that they'd actually wear, that they posted on the instagram, because there's no point in, you know, me sending shoes to maybe a swimsuit model who's posting photos mainly at the beach or in in somewhere if she ever takes a photo of her feet or in an outfit. It's really important to make sure the people you are reaching out to our meaningful and so, I was reaching out personally to a lot of influences, giving them my backstory, saying I'm starting my own brand, set them my look book, which was my campaign imagery of the first collection.
00:17:24Edit And you know, I think that was really important. And it's something I kind of want to get back to now is making the brand and the interactions that you have with people really personable, because people appreciate that they want to know there's someone behind that branch, not just a pr agency or a big company and and I think that was where a lot of the initial success of the brand came from was creating those connections with local influences and even international influences and reaching out and telling them my story and then sending them a free pair of shoes and what's important to note is not everyone is going to postal tag your brand and, and, and a lot of times I'm sure, you know, it's always having your own businesses, you'll send you know, product to someone and they might not wear it and it's frustrating, but that's just the name of the game, all they wear it and they don't argue, this is kind of waiting by the instagram like every day looking are they going to where they're going to wear it, but you know, maybe it doesn't fit, maybe didn't look good and then maybe they haven't at times sometimes I found that someone would post my shoes, you know, three months later and you've got to kind of put yourself in their shoes, literally that they get gifted so many products, shoes, clothes, beauty, your beauty brands and, and and they also got a life and a schedule in a time like that they need to have control of.
00:18:39Edit So, but that, that for me is something I highly recommend is reaching out to influence, is reaching out yourself, putting yourself out there. I remember being so frightened to reach out to people and I'm like, they're never going to reply to me, there was the influence of Matilda jerk, I think that's how you say her name. And I was like, you know what, I've got the confidence one day, I'm like, I'm gonna email her and I was like, she's never gonna reply the next day, she emailed back and I honestly nearly fell off my chair and I remember being so, so excited and that's kind of what I missed when you're first starting a business is all these little winds just make you so excited and so happy. And I was like so excited to get on my computer every day and check my emails to see if someone's responding. So yeah, you've got to ride those waves and really enjoy those moments. Yeah, absolutely. Did you find with influencer marketing the effect, all the impact was direct sales or did you find for you? It was more about the content and that constant association because I feel like for me when I do influencer marketing, I never thought too much about direct a direct sale that comes from that thing.
00:19:43Edit I thought more about collectively the content that I was getting the message that was going out there and being on as many people as possible. I never found it directly led to sales. But now when I look back at the sales, I was getting at the beginning, I definitely think that had an impact because at the beginning, all of the influences would pick the same shoe, which was my still my best seller, the Rachel and tortoiseshell and then that then became my best selling shoot because I think, you know, customers saw that on all their favorite influences. So and the other important thing I, to what you're saying, I great content is keen, it's amazing the content that a lot of these influences produce and it's what you rely on because it's not easy to produce content and and to have it, it costs money. So that's really key. I think the other important thing to understand is that a customer needs to be taken on a journey. So for example, for LMS, they might see the Rachel on their favorite influencer, then they've gone out for dinner and with their friends and one of their friends is wearing the Rachel and they're like, oh this new brand elements and then I've gone and retard them with social media, ad and so they need multiple touchpoints before converting and every touch point is so imperative and so important.
00:20:53Edit So while you might not see direct sales from one element of that, they all marry up and it's all a cycle that you need to take the customer on. Yeah, I think it's so important for people to, to have that in their mindset and because I see a lot of brands who just kind of chasing that direct sale from, you know, this person posed, it had no result and had no impact and I'm like, oh, I don't know if that's the way that you should be looking at that. Yeah, exactly. And I wanted to ask you, I saw that Bella had did wore your shoes and you actually had so many celebrities wear your shoes which is such a cool major thing, How did you do that? There's definitely a lot of work, I know a lot of money as well. So I get a friend of mine put me in touch with a PR agency in the U. S. And I find PR agencies in the US work very differently to any local PR agencies in Australia. And they both have their positives and I guess negatives too. But they just work very differently. So in the US I guess when you're signing on with the Pr agency, one of the key task for them is celebrity placements they call it V.
00:21:58Edit I. P. Placements and especially everything about networking who you know, so a lot of these pr agencies have built really strong relationships with celebrity stylist and even celebrity personal assistance in that case. The Bella had did I had signed on with this american pR agency through a friend and their main job was to send my look book and samples and the shoes to celebrity stylist. So Bella headed stylist Mimi because we make a trail. She I think it was like literally two days before Milan Fashion week just pulled a whole bunch of shoes for gigi and Bella and to be honest I've seen this happen a lot before that I gifted to Khloe Kardashian but I've never seen anything. So you're kind of like, oh yeah, well I'll send it to her, but nothing probably gonna happen. And then two days later there was a photo of Bella wearing shoes in Milan Fashion Week, which is amazing because as I've spoken about before, all the stars have to align to catch a celebrity wearing your product, especially shoes at the bottom of their body, because you know, they have to be photographed by paparazzi is the paparazzi have to be present.
00:23:06Edit It has to be the right timing. Like they have to be obviously wearing the product. So it is hard, but I get asked this question a lot, but I want people to know that it's not easy to get your shoes on celebrities, but I've done people, a friend of mine reached out to mimic a Trail Bell and g stylus directly on instagram and she's got a sunglass brand and she said ever since her glasses and Bell has worn them like multiple times. So I went the route of going through a pR agency, but that's expensive as well. So I want, you know, people to know that you actually can do it yourself to, it might not always succeed, but definitely try it before I sign up with the PR agency. I was emailing a lot of the celebrity stylist, my look book like Danny Michel, who does Kourtney Kardashian and putting yourself out there and sometimes it sometimes it does work. And what was the investment to hire the pR agency. And did you have to do like an ongoing monthly retainer or was it like a one off project where you were like, hey, this is the launch, do what you can all PR agencies like to go on a monthly retainer.
00:24:07Edit I, because I was a new business and, and just also to preface this, I only signed on with them probably around seven months into launching the brand at first every dollar counts. And even even with the agency, they are expensive. I signed on as a three month trial. It's about, they say they normally charge Around $10,000 which is nuts. And I ended up paying, I can't actually say how much because I've got a contract, but it's a few $1000 a month. It's a lot of money. And for me to be completely transparent, my business can't always every month for that. So I'm putting my personal money in to this because I think in a long term there will be results and again, that's a question I get asked all the time. How did you get your shoes on Bella? And that put me, you know, got to me a lot of features on magazines and websites and even other celebrities or other influences have seen that. So it's kind of a snowball effect and that's the thing with Pr, it's the same as what we were talking about with influencer gifting is that you're definitely not going to see a conversion straight away.
00:25:11Edit And that's a really hard pill to swallow because you're paying agency thousands of dollars a month and you're not necessarily seeing the sales coming through the door, but you're building a brand and it's, I guess for the longevity of your business, you know, to build this brand to build this awareness and eventually the wheels start turning and everything kind of gets put into motion. And I saw that you just mentioned the press that you've been so lucky to get all, not lucky you've worked hard for it. But I was reading the articles that you've had in like who, what where and pop sugar and all this kind of thing. And they featured the Bella had did pictures, Was that something again you did outreach for or did you have an agency in Australia working on your profiling and that kind of thing. So I've also been working with a local PR agency because again, like PR is something that's really expensive and it's not always right for every business, but for me, because I'm direct to consumer, I didn't have a storefront at the time when I did, I wasn't available in shops to get in front of lots of customers, like all I had was my little website and my instagram page and that was it. So for me, Pr was and I thought, and, and I still feel an important investment because it's my way of getting like brand out there.
00:26:20Edit So I've worked again with Australian pr agency that you've got to pay a monthly retainer for. So that's probably my biggest cost of my businesses pr and and it is challenging. Um so for them what was interesting is Bella all the shoes but in America they couldn't really get much press on it because celebrities wear brands every day there, but in Australia it's not that common for a celebrity to wear an Australian brand. Like it happens but it's not super super common. So the Australian pr agency was able to really help push that and like I said I've got a lot of features from that. Yeah I'm pop sugar who where um mary claire helps bazaar, like there was a lot, so it's a great thing and it's good to see how the two agencies can benefit of each other's work as well. And what do you think now being sort of more than a year into the brand, you've had that initial kind of launch hype, you've had some amazing winds with the celebrity and kind of the influencer seen, how do you propel your brand forward from here? Probably not considering the current climate of what's happening in the last few weeks with the pandemic, but aside from that I'm from a retail background so I've always seen the value of bricks and water like physical stores.
00:27:29Edit So last year I opened kind of an office slash server room store in Paddington and that for me was my next step was to really again just have more exposure and for more people to see the brand that and also there are a lot of customers who don't want to buy shoes online. That's a challenge of constantly had to overcome. So having a store is really important. So I opened what I call the LMS terrorist because it was in a terrorist in Paddington and during the week I had to do it by appointment because running a store is expensive if you have to have staff there for me myself to my time there. So I would have the store by appointment during the week and I'd be open on Saturdays, I was on William Street in Paddington and it it was a quiet street but so I would I would say that it wasn't the biggest success. Um but a few months it in March I moved out of that store and I opened a new store on Oxford Street Paddington which is an area with a lot more foot traffic.
00:28:30Edit I think it's a good story there that I had the store in William Street, it wasn't a huge success but I wanted to keep trying and I didn't give up on that idea. So I went and opened a brand new store unfortunately with everything going on with Covid, I've had to close the store and I wasn't even open for a week, but I've got faith that I would be open again sometime this year. Oh wow, that's so exciting all the same to have gotten to that point regardless of what's happening now. So you've been dead to see now for like this whole period and you hadn't wanted to wholesale the brand originally, but has that shifted the mindset there, Do you think you might hold set? Have brands been contacting you to stock the footwear directed? And it's really important to note that it's definitely a slow, long kind of burn and it's not, you're not going to see immediate success. I've had to understand that and appreciate that and, you know, a lot of brands go right into wholesaling and, and they'll be able to pay their bills more and they'll have better cash flow and they'll be able to grow a bit faster, but there might be kind of that ceiling and that's as far as they can grow because they're so relying on retailers.
00:29:34Edit And that's the thing I've had to keep reminding myself is because, you know, sales can be tough when you're just selling out of one platform or one location and I have explored wholesaling and I've gone through a few times and I've met with some retailers and it still just doesn't feel like the right time for me. I am exploring it and there's two things to note with Wholesaling is it's a whole new ball game. It's a lot of work, A lot of companies have whole teams managing wholesale because you have to, you know, have someone who's doing all the administrative work with the retailers and there's an invoicing and it's a it's a lot of work and obviously you're giving a lot of your marginal ways because you're wholesaling. So it costs a lot and it's not always going to be a profitable side of your business, but it does help you grow your business. Um And the other thing with wholesale is you have to build that timeline into your schedule. So, for example, for me, because I've got no retailers relying on on me, I can kind of release a collection whenever I want. And, you know, I have a short early time from when I design a collection to actually launching and with wholesale, you have to actually kind of build six months into your timeline.
00:30:46Edit So, it means I'm going to be designing my collection six months earlier. And that's another thing that I'm not sure I'm ready for. And so yeah, I'm definitely exploring wholesale, but it's got to be with the right partner for me, I wanted to be with a retailer that's going to elevate my brand, it's going to be a good alignment, it's going to benefit my business. So it's something I'm constantly on the lookout for. And but it's it's not something that's going to happen overnight. Yeah. And do you think that you might also look to do partnerships with bigger brands or businesses in the future or things like working on Fashion Week or those kind of avenues you're spot on there because that's definitely in the pipeline. I was trying just to amazing Australian brands are doing a collaboration, which I can't say who because unfortunately, again, because of Covid, nothing's come to fruition yet, but I've got faith that we will be able to restart those conversations and everyone's a bit more confident in the market. But I think co branding is something which I've only, you know, really start to realize in the last few months is a really great way of growing your business and expanding your audience.
00:31:55Edit And I just think it's a it's a really smart way of doing business, especially for a director. Consumer brand is, you know, leveraging off some other amazing brands and doing something that's right for your business and for your customer. So yeah, it's something that's definitely in the pipe? I don't, hopefully you guys will see that soon. Oh, I'm so excited and I wanted to ask you about email marketing, Has that been something that you've been able to sort of build and utilize. I haven't probably done as much as I should with it. I do have, you know, campaigns going out and I do, you know, um a market is only as successful as how big your databases. So growing your database is something that's a bit challenging and I'm lucky that with LMS I get a lot of repeat business and a lot of repeat customers even though most of my emails at the moment our existing customers, a lot of them come back and purchase again. So that's really good. So whenever I have like a sail or new collection I can rely on those loyal customers to make a purchase at the moment.
00:32:58Edit I'm actually um I have a campaign running to grow my database which is a competition and it's running as social media advertising campaign where It's a paid advertising mechanism that is promoting this, you know $500 giveaway and growing. It's growing my followers and it's growing. Um yeah my database. So I think again like I said it because it hasn't been a huge focus. I think now that I'm really focused on growing the database, email marketing is gonna be really, really important for my business. Yeah, for sure. And you mentioned you've been doing paid advertising. Have you seen that? That's been quite successful in acquiring new customers. It definitely is the most reliable source of marketing that will obviously directly lead to sales. But you know, I've seen so many ups and downs and I've had some amazing winds with it and then I've gone through stages where my ads just haven't performed and I just burned through a lot of cash and again this is you know as I said before, you know you can do everything yourself.
00:33:59Edit But social media advertising was something that I did try to do it myself at the beginning and it's quite a complex thing and there are so many brands advertising on social media that you've got to fight through a lot of noise probably again eight months into the brand. I started working with a friend of mine who was a friend of a friend who is an ex an expert in social media advertising. So I paid her a small amount to run the ads. And now I was working with her for about six months and only now I started with an actual agency because I felt like I outgrew that and I wanted to kind of leverage some more expertise so there are things in business where you really do want expert advice and expert working on something and I think social media advertising is that and I was I learned from early on that you can burn through a lot of money if you don't know what you're doing facebook or you know keep charging your account and they might spend based on the amount of clicks that you're getting. So they might say, oh you're getting a lot of, it's quite cheap to you know get you know thousands of clicks but you're not actually converting into a sale so it's easy to get ahead of yourself there but it's a really important part of any business and I highly recommend that is something that every business looks at doing And we kind of touched a little bit on COVID-19 and how that's affected you with the store closing.
00:35:21Edit But what else have you noticed? And have you had to pivot and innovate to keep business coming through the website and what's that been like for you? Yeah, it's been really, really tough. Obviously I've tried not to let it get me down because I keep reminding myself that everyone is going through it in any way, whether it's personal of my business perspective and you know, sales online have been really slow to be completely transparent. The store, I've spent a lot of money, you know, doing this where I did it all myself, but you know, setting the store up and like you know, furniture constant, all that, I spent a lot of money and then within two weeks I've had to close the door. So that's been a big challenge because there was a lot that I was building around the store and I was going to do a launch party and I was going to pair up without amazing local artist and there was all these things that I was planning to do, which it had to be put on hold in as we discussed, Even some of the brand collaborations that was working on challenges, lots of different people going to the same thing, what have realized it's really important is to stay relevant and be present still on social media and what I actually noticed the first few, I guess days and weeks of this or blowing up in everyone's faces when I said I was supposed to anything on instagram, I'd lose followers and I think the reality is a lot of people have lost jobs, a lot of people don't want to spend money, so I had to then pivot that from a social media perspective is changed my content because they're not in the mood to just see, you know, brands advertising thrown in their face and so what I'm doing is, even though, you know, my sales not might not be strong and it's going to be hard to kind of, you know, maintain the business over the next few months, it's important to kind of come out of this really in a strong way and still be loud and still be engaging your audience.
00:37:10Edit So I've tried to change the content of, and you know, I've created a hashtag, hashtag LMS home um inspiring people to kind of get dressed for the day, take a selfie and you know, because I'm so guilty of it is just wearing track pants or PJs all day, so you're actually going and getting a little bit dressed up for me, you know, styling with a pair of shoes and taking of yourself and the other thing I've started to do is getting some friends of the brand's influences to take over the LMS account and show, you know, my LMS audience, you know what they're doing with, you know, working from home day or how they're celebrating easter. So, you know, these are things I would normally do, but it is important as a business as you said to pivot and to, you know, be relevant and also be conscious of what your customers are going through. Cool, wow, that was such a such, so much good information. There's so much value. Usually, um I asked the, at the end of every episode, I asked the same six quick questions to every woman that I speak to, but before I ask you a final question is what advice would you have for someone who is wanting to start a brand in the footwear space?
00:38:18Edit You know, just do all your research and build costing plan ups and budgets. Because for me, you know, again, a huge lesson was I, you know, I did, I did this whole costing plan and a budget and I thought, okay, the data showed to me, okay, well if I sell through this many pairs of shoes, I'm going to make this much money, but what you have to factor in is you need those customers and they're not just waiting for you to open up your store or open up your online store, like you need to attract them. And that's where the hard work is do all your research work on like financials and budgeting and and and and work out how much things are going to cost and what you need to put in for it to be successful and be aware of all of those costs and expenses. And definitely social media is so important in this day and age. And with any brand, not even just for Brown is just put yourself out there like you are your brand and no one's gonna sell it like you will. So yeah. Amazing. All right. So the six questions, it's really kind of like quick fire short and snappy, Number one.
00:39:21Edit What's your why? So for me, I've always, I've always worked in the fashion industry but kind of from afar from a distance and I've always wanted to kind of make my stamp on the industry with my own flair and and my own style. So for me being able to share that with customers is I guess why I do it every day. What's the number one marketing thing you've done that made your business pop definitely influence the marketing. It helped my business completely get off the ground. And was there one particular instance that you thought, you know that you saw like immediate sales or something from that? Really took your breath away. Yes. Um the blogger Joshua, um punchy or too dark. I think I invited her to my store, the elements terrace at the time and you know, again, I had to put myself out there and and reach out and I was like, oh, she's never gonna want to come to the store came there and she just naturally took some stories and like post on instagram and I saw a huge rise in following more than I've ever seen before and definitely I could boost in sales.
00:40:24Edit So that was great. Amazing. Number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? So minds it close to home. I'd say my fiance is also a startup. So it's really nice because it's stressful because you know, it's having started super stressful and when you're both doing it, but you know, we often will go for a walk every day and just kind of for each other's sounding board and that and I think we both kind of improved on each other and just inspire each other. So that's how sweet I'm sure he'll be so happy to hear that number four is how do you win the day? And that's around your AM and PM rituals, What I learned quickly is that like, again, what we're talking about with coronavirus is you can't just say in your PJs all day or you can, but it's hard to be motivated and having your business, you've really got to keep yourself motivated because you can't just slack off or you know, you're really not accountable, being held accountable by anyone. So for me when I felt important was getting up, getting dressed in a nice outfit, styling yourself and leaving the house.
00:41:28Edit So whether it's you know I would be working at the store or go to a cafe or a library, I think that's really important and working from home can be good too, but mix it up, make sure you're making an effort to wake up and then transition into work mode. Number five is if you only had $1,000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? I'd say social media advertising because as I mentioned before, it's the one Marketing mechanism that will directly lead to sales if you spend it wisely. So at 100% say you're going to get bang for your back there and number six, final question how do you deal with failure? And it can be either a specific example or just your general approach and your mindset, I think having your own business especially me do it by myself is you know you don't really have anyone to ride the waves with and there are a lot of highs but there are a lot of lows when you have your own business and you know I have, I you know I live with failure and I guess wins every day and when I when I feel that you know there is any sense of failure, I I do, I cry and I let it out and I talk to people, I go for a walk with some friends or my fiance and I chat about it.
00:42:40Edit You can't bottle it inside you. Just gotta let it out and and talk about it. And then once you know, you feel a bit more level headed is come back right to notes down, How are you going to conquer it? What are you gonna do next? And how are you going to improve? Amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time. Where can people find you? My personal instagram is lisa mandy, so L I S A M A N D Y and then my brand instagram, LMS the brand fab. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast.