Using the current global crisis to evolve to let your true brand DNA shine, Silou's Phoebe Greenacre
oday’s episode is with Phoebe Greenacre, the co-founder of a women’s activewear brand, Silou London.
When Phoebe and her business partner Tatiana weren’t able to find premium, sustainable activewear that they wanted to wear day in and day out, they knew they’d spotted a gap in the market and went for it.
And what’s really special about this episode is actually how the brand has been able to thrive during the pandemic, and let their true DNA shine through. A brand that’s always put their community first, now more than ever have been able to innovate and bring people together from all over the world through live yoga classes, guided meditations and a calendar full of heart warming activities on a daily basis for the women in their network.
WE COVER VALUABLE TOPICS LIKE:
How to find a business partner and how to work out the who-does-what stuff
Understanding what’s really involved when you want to launch a brand and the reality of how long it can take to launch
The struggles of being a smaller brand up against bigger brands
How to grow an email database through; Giveaways and collabs with other brands, Collecting data through pop ups and events, Collecting data during archive sales
“An email subscriber is more valuable than a Instagram follower.”
Pop Ups and Partnerships on a consignment basis
Finding the right opportunities that fit the brand
What does it mean to be a sustainable activewear brand and how to deliver on that promise throughout the manufacturing and packaging process
Making a 100% recyclable collection and developing your own fabric from scratch
Rethinking your strategy during the current global climate and asking the question: are brick and mortar retailers what we should be focused on and should brands be entirely focused on DTC.
The importance of finding opportunities to pivot, adapt or innovate during this time that can deepen your connection with your community in a real way; creating a wellness calendar packed with live events and activities online like meditation, yoga, advice and barre. And advancing that to include self care, cooking,
On creating content and tone of voice: “Go back and make it more human.” Ensure you’re helping and supporting the community through the power of language.
How to support your team while #WFH and moving to remote working.
Is a business plan needed in the beginning?
The pros and cons to stocking your brand with bigger retailers.
The advice you need before bringing a new brand into the world.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
This is Phoebe for Female Startup Club, let's talk about the background story and how Silou came about and yeah, where it all got started. Sure, so back in 2015 I met my now business partner, I was actually a marketing consultant, so I had my own agency and I looked after everything from brand story, to branding, to social media um and yeah, so kind of after 10 years working um for like brand, like David jones, napoleon purchase, I kind of went on my own and freelance and so when we were introduced to my now business partners, she actually hired me to help her create a brand help her kind of bring to life this idea of an activewear brand. Um so there was no samples, there was a few sketches that she had had done and there was a name that she had registered, but we know that was not the name that we end up launching with.
00:03:06Edit Um so that was how it all started and two months into working together, um she realized that it was gonna be a lot more work than maybe she had anticipated. So she asked me to be her business partner and ceo. Oh wow, that's so cool. And so when you were initially in the beginning kind of phase, how did you determine like she's gonna do X. And you're going to do X. Or was it really quite a natural, you're just going to manage all of that kind of like creative brand positioning and she's going to manage the manufacturing or something else like that. Yeah, so it was definitely probably not discussed. Um I suppose we started out with like the things that we had to do every week to get the business up and running. So anything from creating barcodes to riding social media, um copy, I was doing pretty much most of those kind of things. And um Tatyana was focusing more on the design side of things.
00:04:10Edit So the fabrics and the finishings of the products and that kind of thing. So that was not my forte. Um and so she kind of focused on those kind of things and the more of the designs. Yeah, and so then what was the kind of next process from that early initial design and creative phase to being like, okay, let's find a manufacturer, let's find someone to produce somewhere in the world. It's such a big daunting task task. Um we had, it took us a while actually, like, so from our first meeting from, when we started to work together, um, it took us nearly a year to launch. So it was quite a while um, in terms of like, uh, sampling, finding the manufacturer light and testing as well that we would get some samples made and be like, these are terrible, we're not going to be using these people or we would get some really good ones made and they'd be like, yeah, you have to play some minimum of 200 Cases of this one, liking in one color.
00:05:14Edit And we're like, yeah, we don't, we can't do that. So, um, it was definitely, it took time and um, testing to be able to find who, who we now work with. Um, so yeah, and what, what did you actually do to find those people I know from my experience with the jewelry brand. It was very like, I started by going on alibaba and messaging every single factory I could could have been semi relevant to then. I mean, I went to china, then I went to like a few factories there, then I switched my production, It didn't work again in bali, it was a bit of a nightmare. Then I finally got connected actually through a personal connection to someone in Bangkok and they're my factory now, but it was just such an ordeal to get to that person. So what did you guys do? It is an ordeal, isn't it? It's very painful. Um it's painful looking online and looking where people like manufacturer, we knew um just from like, I think personal context that a lot of people had, we're getting made, we wanted to stay in europe as well, so that's one of our really, kind of key values that were locally produced and also sourced.
00:06:27Edit So all of our fabric comes from Italy as well. So, um we went to the bit like Activewear sportswear Producers that had good reputation. So we could obviously find them via google. We found um and then it was a process of elimination, like a do they email you back? Probably not because you're like this random person that wants samples, um and be then again, like, do they produce? Because we we produce a really high quality, so like, the quality of um the fabric and the and the production was was really important to us. So, we had to like, we wanted to have at least some assurance that they were producing other high quality brands. And did you have to go to the factory? And yeah, a lot of time there? Yeah, so we went to the factory first when we first before we kind of initiated, because we wanted to see what type of standards there was there, make sure that it was like above the board, You know, you don't know, you find something on um google, and you, you don't know if it's like an above the board thing.
00:07:34Edit So yeah, we went there, we, we went in the peak of summer And it was so hot. It was like 45° and it was in the middle of Lithuania. Um and yeah, it was once we went, we went and met them, we went and met a few different, like an account manager and then kind of styled the process from there, but we went, we like had lunch in the lunch room and we wanted to make sure that the standards, so like the women that were producing our clothes, we're going to be like above um like a living standard wage and also just like the facilities were really lovely. Like I was like, oh, I could work, it was really nice. Like went into the design rooms and everything. So yeah, I found that was really important for me as well. Like when I found the current factory that I use now in Bangkok when I spent time there and actually got to know the women who were making things and see how happy they were and you know, they were all just such a big family and I really felt so proud to be included in what they were producing and like what they were making because it's a family owned factory and the guy who owns it, his Australian but tie and you know, he's just so lovely and was just this kind soul that instantly I was like, oh, I'm so like happy to be part of this.
00:08:49Edit And I think it's so important because when you're working with china and there's a really big kind of distance and there's a lot of hurdles you have to go through to even just get to china with the visas and that kind of thing. It just seems a little bit disconnected. Yeah, it is. It's it's like there's no face behind the person you're emailing. We're trying to email. So trying to yeah, 100 percent. I am. I put something up on my instagram asking my community what they were really interested to learn about from you today and what the kind of main theme was that came back was about manufacturing and that kind of sourcing process. So I really want to talk a little bit more about it. Did you feel after that first meeting that you, you were like, yeah, these these are the people like we're done here kind of thing. We can stop looking. Yeah. So that was probably maybe months down the track where we had Yeah. So it wasn't like we're just going to fly up to every person that we met online and that kind of thing.
00:09:50Edit So that was like a process of elimination. We had samples sent to us before we would go. Um it was, yeah, we had samples, made it a few different factories and then it was like, this is the best quality. So then we flew out there to meet them to have our first initial kind of meeting with them. And if people are listening now who are in the business of wanting to start an Activewear brand or wanting to start any fashion apparel brand or in that kind of space, Is there anything that you would say to look out for, like, advice that you would kind of make sure that you really want to do it? It's not like an overnight success. Like this is just before you even think about wanting to do it. Like it's so it's a really hard game. Um and you're playing up against lots of big players. The one thing that we struggle with at the moment is that we're still the little guy um in the big grand scheme of like the orders, so we have like certain deadlines that we need to meet and that kind of thing.
00:10:54Edit But if a big order comes in from a huge Activewear brand, like a sweaty Betty or um uh Lucas you or someone that's like more established than us, then we get pushed back, which hasn't been the best for us. But in the grand scheme of things, you know, sweaty Betty's a multimillion dollar company, like $200 million dollar company a year. So you can imagine how much they're ordering compared to like a business has been around for three years. So that's one. Yeah. Yeah that that's one thing that like you want to make sure that you really want to like you really want to do it. Um But also I'm very much on an energetic level connection with people so if the energy doesn't feel good I don't work with them. So and that's really important from everything from working with the manufacturer to people that are higher in my team. Um You need like I trust my gut with everything. Yeah driven by intuition exactly when you first started ordering with the factory that you use now what was the kind of minimum order quantities the M.
00:12:07Edit O. Q. S. That you Kind of had to yeah that that um so it goes on like a pricing structure for us is they give you a price for 500 units And then if you order less then they charge you a surcharge. So if you order 300 units you get a 5% surcharge or and if you order lower than 100 or 100 I think 100 is the minimum is 15% surcharge. So and then if you order below 100 it's 50% surcharge. So it gets obviously with economies of scale the more you order, the cheaper it gets pretty much so um and we yeah so that kind of it's 100 pieces with a 15% surcharges Like the smallest amount because if you're paying a 50% surcharge then you're not really going to make any money. Um And In the in the beginning when you guys were placing your orders, were you already thinking about the wholesale process or were you thinking just selling them online?
00:13:08Edit And how did you think? Oh my gosh, just for example if you ordered 500, how are you like Okay how are we actually going to sell this now that we have it? So 100%. Honestly I had no idea about production, manufacturing, wholesale mark ups any of that. I've learned everything myself through cares and frustration because my background is digital marketing, building websites, social media, like e commerce, business strategy, all of that kind of stuff. So when it came to like knowing what seems costs a certain amount to what, how do you calculate a markup for a wholesale margin? I was just like how to calculate wholesale margin on google and that's how I learnt like and there was a lot of, you know we had no idea really had no idea. And in the beginning did you launch initially with wholesalers already on board or know how to start marketing from.
00:14:13Edit Yeah, so we actually placed our first order and we had no idea with what how much richard order? I was like yeah this would be a good image yourself through this. No, we still have that stock now three years later we still out of like current store but we still have stock from our first collection which you know, the the whole ethos was around staples and really good quality staples. So they still good quality staples. Um We just have a lot of them um but we definitely have not ordered as many um units as we did in that first test, trial, yeah, that trial and error order. Um so yeah, and then it was only in that first collection, we then brought on wholesalers order our first order and we still have stock from that um from that order. And again we brought on some wholesalers from that first collection but it was like mid Wales after we've received the stock and that kind of thing. So um and what was the process of finding the wholesalers?
00:15:15Edit Because this is another kind of really the main theme of people on my instagram or wanting to know what, like how do you find these wholesalers? Did they approach you or did you? I am, yeah, I am an a grade stalker. So I would stop people on linkedin on facebook on instagram to find out who the buyers were. First thing people like net a porter or Selfridges and it is um it's really hard, you send out 100 emails and maybe you get one back maybe obviously now it's a lot different, being a little bit more of an established brand. But with, we would still, in the beginning I would be sending out like hundreds of emails and like following up and it's just like you're sending them to a blank space in the universe where no one replies. So you have to get really okay with rejection and like the feeling or not even being recorded. Yeah, completely, Really tough one.
00:16:18Edit I found that really, really difficult to deal with actually Yeah, I was so busy like doing everything else that that was like, I would plan out some time of my week every week to then follow up that email one week later, send some press that we got and then be like, hey, just featured in vogue, Like do you wanna funk us now or you know, just like um continually be in front of mind for them because if you're not emailing then then they're thinking about other things. Um But if you are emailing like I now know buyers and they just like, don't worry, just keep sending the look books we read, we do open and read them. We just don't reply. If it's not relevant because we don't have time. Mm And do you have any tips? Like if you're thinking about what were the successful kind of emails that you've got a response from what you need to have in those emails? That was usually short and sweet. Nothing to like, people don't want to like get bombarded. If you think of a like a buyer at Selfridges, they get, how many brands are they buying into in their category.
00:17:19Edit How many brand new brands are trying to get into their store. So it's like short and sweet. Punchy. Um Even if it's like look book attached, like look at the new collection maybe two or three sentences. But if when you start like going into like the whole story of it or the back story, it just really um you know, it doesn't catch their attention but also change up your target, like your um strategy. Maybe it's like one week you send some, if you have some press or one week you like will be able to address an influencer or something. Change up the strategy. Don't keep sending the same information because they'll just delete it and be like there's a lot of the people don't even open the attachment so maybe pop a photo inside the body of the email. Um So that that's like as soon as there as soon as you open it up. Yeah. Cool. And so when you're talking about like your wholesale strategy versus your actual kind of online store strategy. Um What what are you doing on your online store to drive sales and drive traffic and kind of your marketing, your marketing mix, shall we say, oh my organic and google and all these things because I guess there's like two completely different strategies going on for you at the moment, are you managing both of those?
00:18:34Edit Yeah. Yeah. So let me just ask you a million questions. That's all right. We will go. So it's an ever evolving practice of um So we do do some google ads and facebook instagram ads. Um I want to drive new traffic to the website, but a lot of majority of our traffic is um organic, which has been great and that's growing months a month as well. Um So we use yeah, so we use those two, we use gifting through some influences and like teachers and people that we admire in our in our industry. So working on building relationships within rather than just like blanket gifting and sending out a whole bunch of stuff around and people because we can't afford to just be giving away really good, like it costs us a lot to give away a pair of leggings, like it's not just like, you know, the cost for that is really still quite high for a premium product. So we have to make sure that like the person um is like believes in the brand and wants to be part of our women of solu community, which is a community I started to build last summer or maybe a little bit before that because that was one thing that um an active a lot of the activewear brands out that didn't have that kind of accessibility point.
00:19:49Edit Um So through a whole scheme of like free events that I would take yoga at and like other events that we would get people to come to our women of solu um community kind of gatherings and start to build this like a hashtag that people belong to the brand just as well as much as like the people that own the brand or work within the brand. Um And that's really helped to drive this leg. I would tribe or something like that, like a little kind of people that believe in the ethos of the brand and also the ethos of what a woman of Solu stands for. Mm So that's so paid ads. Um uh content. Uh So dr driving out organic content is through uh we have a lot of journal content and blog content, so helping us gain our ceo um and then we have we really build focusing on building our newsletter subscriber database and that's really one huge one for us at the moment because we're really focusing on mentoring and um nurturing our people of like our women of Solu that have signed up to our newsletter.
00:21:02Edit Um And yeah, we find that there are really a supportive community as well. Yeah, that's so nice. I love a great community to be part of. How do you guys grow your email subscriber list or what's your kind of strategy behind growing the database. So we have a mixture of like depending on what month it is or what our focus is that month, there's um collaborations with other brands are doing like giveaways or Um collaborations with other brands and other newsletters and maybe the the mechanism to enter is to sign up to our newsletter. Um we have a pop up box on our website, so capturing emails for 15% off. Um We do uh we do have ads at the moment to drive. Um call to action is to sign up to our newsletter as well. Um Yeah, I think at every point in time, even when we do events, we do a lot of pop ups like when before um this day and age, we used to pop up at studios and everyone that would buy at those events, we would ask them if they wanted to opt into our newsletter.
00:22:07Edit So we were trying to gather newsletter subscribers at any point, whether it be in person at a real life event or online or through a collaboration. It's really kind of our key um like I think it's more important than instagram followers I saw on your instagram that you mentioned, you have um I guess they're called partnerships with Soul Cycle and Equinox. Is that the pop ups that you're talking about? So they know their stock us. So their status, right? Yeah. Um yeah, you go, so a lot of smaller studios don't have a huge budget or cash flow to buy stock from us. So, and also it's a really kind of a big investment for for like a smaller studio two up front, um lay out the cost of buying stock that they may not sell, be like, I don't know if that customer likes it. So we do pop up um at studios like a revolving pop up. Um So how are you growing your email database?
00:23:13Edit So depending on the month or our focus, what we have going on in terms of events and that kind of thing, we do giveaways and collaborations with other brands. So having the entry mechanism as sign up to the saloon newsletter to to enter. Um or when we do pop ups and events, we make sure that we collect data with every sale if people want to opt in as well. Um archive sales as well. We do them quarterly at our office in Belgravia. So people come and then again they have if they want to opt in as well. So at every touch point we try to get newsletter subscriptions at the moment, I feel they're more powerful than an instagram follower. So that's what we're focusing on. And when you were talking earlier about the pop ups and the partnerships that you're doing is that with the smaller boutique studios that you're talking about or is that with? That's a different thing with brands. Yeah. Yeah. So we're so Soulcycle moda Operandi Selfridges. There are places that we've been sold in um or sellin and the pop ups are more with smaller brand, so like smaller yoga studios a Pilates studios because it's really like if you're a small business owner, it's quite difficult to pay, you know, a couple of £1000 or more to buy into a like the depth of a brand of leggings and bras and that kind of thing.
00:24:38Edit So we pop up at places to maybe a week or a month um and then sell through whatever they sell through, and then at the end of the month they pay for what they've sold. Um and then that's, it works for us because we're still getting um um eyeballs onto the brand and brand awareness. Um and people can test and try so like a lot of our fabrics or all of our fabrics feel like amazing on the body and they're soft and they're um like feel like butter and we really can't describe that enough online on our website. So having that like, physical store presence to have that direct connection to customers or potential customers is really important for us. And when you've got that like woven into your strategy, is it just again all about your outreach and you just contact as many different small studios that you find online. Yeah, so I'm very much like, it needs to be of a certain aesthetic and a certain level of premium, I suppose premium service, so we don't go to everywhere and I don't want to be everywhere.
00:25:43Edit Like we have a certain, we have a price point that is not going to suit every yoga studio. So it's definitely the yoga studios or the Pilates studios that have a certain clientele um and that are willing to pay um quality as well as the performance of the legging. And I was reading on your website about your sustainability efforts and so I wanted to talk a little bit about what makes an activewear brand sustainable and how you actually deliver on that promise when it comes to like the manufacturing process and any other processes. Yeah, so we we set up a sustainability promised from 2021 but that was our goal is to um finalize, we're not finalized but reach all of our sustainability goals by 2021. Um And so everything from the how we dye our fabrics to how we um the types of fabrics were sourcing as well as well as our packaging to even like the hygiene strips on our swimwear that is all like from plant based or recycled materials or materials that are not as harmful to the environment as others.
00:26:58Edit Um So next month we're launching our 1st 100% recycled fabric um collection, Which is really exciting for us because it's taken us nearly a year to be working on that. Um and then from then on everything that we launch will be either recycled up cycled or from cotton or um fabrics that are not as harmful to the environment. And does your factory help you with that or do you have to source that separately and then take it to your factory to Yeah. So the factory, when we first started working with them, this is something three, like three years ago, we were asking them like what are the fabrics that do have available or that you work with right now? And it was literally none or they'd be really like terrible and hard and gross and not really nice on the skin. So as we have progressed, obviously the whole sustainability thing has become a thing and it's been a little bit more easier to access. But still when we ask our fabric mills, so we worked separately with fabric mills and then also with the factory, so individually um working with both of them to make the fabric and also the production more sustainable.
00:28:09Edit So definitely over the last, definitely the year has been there's been um the factories have been coming to us with more recycled fabrics, which has been great. But yeah, so it is still growing and changing and we're in the process of actually making our own fabric right now, which is super exciting. Some of some of them. Yeah. Really, really exciting. It's been like three years in the making as well. So, um it's so most of it is like you either get like the Elastin is recycled in it or it's the polyester is recycled or the cotton is recycled so that we're trying to make a blend at the moment that includes every single part of the material is recycled and just and you do that at the factory that's like got the fabric fabric mills? Yeah. Yeah. So their their their whole thing is they just create fabrics. Um So we're working with them at the moment and we get that if they do a role for us like a test then we send it to our factories and then make it one pair of leggings and then they send it to us to try it on where it tests and as soon as we pick it up and touch it, I can I can tell that if it's going to be good or not because um that's one thing that we want a lot of fabric recycled fabrics don't feel great when you pick them up, they're fairly dry and like you can just you know, you don't want to put them on and then go for an hour run in them.
00:29:40Edit Um So that's where we're trying to make like something feels super luxurious as well as the cycle. So that's why we haven't found something yet and we're still in that process but we're really close to launching something maybe later this year, wow, Final stages. Very cool. Okay, I spill. Yeah and where are you at now with the brand? Because obviously three years in you've probably gone through a lot of ups and downs but you've probably started to really find your feet and get into that nitty gritty growth stage. Can you talk a little bit about this kind of phase where you're kind of ready to scale and you've already got a big handful of amazing online retailers who are just huge and obviously elevate your brand to the level that I'm sure you had in your vision three years ago. Um And what happens from here? So I think with this current climate, we are re re thinking about our strategy, whether that be a direct to consumer strategy or having the wholesalers in the mix as well.
00:30:45Edit So and again, it just brings back to with the current climate. Um and with retailers shut, they're not really there, they're not there, they're online, but it's the wear online, so it doesn't really give us any um foothold in the market. So at the moment our focus really is just direct consumer at the moment, um and that's really where we're driving and and trying to build our online community so that we can offer um more, I think price point options as well because obviously wholesaling um through retailers, they take the biggest margin. So if we can maybe just have people come straight to us, then we have like availability or more opportunity to do more more with what we have, um and reduce prices if we don't have them in the mix, So um it's an interesting situation right now, we're reviewing that every week. Yeah, I guess everyone's had to kind of pivot so quickly or innovate so quickly with everything that's going on with the virus um that maybe you had all those ideas in your head already but you've had to basically go from 0 to 100 in a day essentially.
00:32:00Edit Which is quite quite tricky I imagine. Do you want to share a little bit about what you guys have been doing and how it's affected your team and like your data. So I am a very big believer in the survivors in crisis is pivot fast and they they act fast and it was pretty much like that first when when the studios were closing because I teach yoga out in the studio as well as soon as they shut the studios, I knew that like things were gonna change and fast as well as like people weren't going out and shopping as well and when you know, so if we just closed their doors and all of the like department stores closed their doors as like okay things are gonna change. We need to act soon. And I think what I really focused on is rather than like what do we have to do as a business is like what do we have to do to support the community and make them feel good because uh me and my business partner, we are part of the community and we everyone was suffering with anxiety with um you know not the not knowing this of what was going to unfold and so obviously with my background of um the holistic therapy coaching and positive reinforcement that we kind of really focused on.
00:33:21Edit Like what does what do they want to hear from us right now? How are we going to support them through this And how do we continue to support them through this? Because I know when I was getting emails from insert brand's name here I was like they're not even mentioning that we're all locked up at home or what how are they not like evolving and you know you don't need to say this is the end of the world but um you know acknowledging that things are changing and how can they help support us. So we put together a wellness schedule um with a combination of all of our women of solute yoga teachers Pilates teachers. Um bar teachers and we made a schedule of where everyone was teaching whether it be on I. G. T. V. Or our lives or zooms and we put like free paid or donation based to really support that community. And we continue to build that this week as well like every week we're updating that schedule and we kind of um made it it was one of the first we were one of the first people that were making like making the schedule um and having to add all of the people that we love as a brand um as teachers.
00:34:28Edit So we don't put every single person on their beds, people that we've experienced and really know that their top of their game and we really love their classes. So we would have continued to support them through this time as well, so that was one section of it. Um I went live teaching yoga as well, like it's just amazing that I have these skills that we can then put online as well. So yeah, it was just like I mean I've always been in the wellness kind of industry, so it's just great that I can leverage my other skills at this point in time. So hosting life meditations um really kind of offering different types and pieces of advice um in our newsletters and that kind of thing as well. So just really trying to help um support our community rather than just saying my God the end of the world by a legging. Yeah, it sounds like you've really kind of shifted like into a space of already what you were doing about building a community for women and all this kind of thing and really stepping into that space and being like, yeah this is how we're building a community for our women and kind of rather than just like another sales message.
00:35:37Edit Yeah, it's been a nice opportunity. It sounds like definitely and we have like a really strong program of content coming out in the next couple of weeks just um of and everything from mindfulness to wellness to cooking at home to just really bringing in all of those other lifestyle areas that inspire us as like women of solu but also help support the mental, physical, emotional um things that people are going through. Um and we'll continue to go through and over over the next few weeks or months, you know, it's kind of like a grieving process, the grieving what the life was. And we we all do that at different times in stages. It sounds like when things go back to normal, whatever that is or whatever the new normal will be, that this is the kind of um thing that might live on on your channels in this online, definitely. People we've had like emails which we never really get like replying back to our newsletter saying thank you so much for this content.
00:36:40Edit It's what I needed today. And like just you know, just having that, you're like, wow, we're really touching people and like um having like my business partner get her friends that live in Russia Screen Shotting like our newsletters and sending it back to her saying this is beautiful. Like this is so nice. We really know that were like on the mark with what we're creating. And again, I just I always say to my um Nicole who manages all of the content. I'm like, go back and make it more human because right now like they don't know that you're a human behind this? Like go make it back and more human like you're talking to me like you're giving me advice and so from with our instagram copy to our replies in our social media and like make sure you put your name on there, make sure like you know you're seeing that person for whatever they're coming to us for. Um and just making a human because at the end of the day we are all humans at the end behind these little computer screens and instagram um accounts and everyone's really craving that human connection right now. So if we can touch those people in our community vibe newsletter or how we reply via email to a lost package um You know make sure that you're really just being a human in this situation.
00:37:53Edit Yeah. Absolutely. I've seen a lot of brands who I think are really like stepping up and being people to really follow. And you see that true DNA shining through and you see people who don't have the D. N. A. Kind of going to the back of your mind and you're you're just not really interested. Yeah. You opt out pretty quickly. Yeah you're opting out. I feel like I'm unsubscribing from a lot of places right now. Yeah. And what about your team? So did you guys used to work in an office and now you're all obviously remotely or your warehouse team who are shipping the things, how does that all started to change? So our warehouse is still there still shipping so people can still order, they're on like a I think they're on like a a roster so like people work on Mondays and Wednesdays and then the other people work thursday friday so so it's a lot less people in there and also if people go down with coronavirus that the whole team doesn't go down so they've kind of split that up. Um And then my team, yeah we used to work in an office all together but I had a very much you can work from home flexible working arrangements um each week so at least one of the girls all of the girls would work from home at least one day each week if they wanted to like it wasn't forced but if you wanted that option so that's really kind of just gone to full blown work from home every day every week.
00:39:16Edit And so we are around there's a few of us that are in London and then two girls are in um like outskirts of London so um that's where the team is right now and it's it's been fine. I like I think I mean checking in with them. Um Nicole who I do all about wet marketing with. We email and text and every day all day um with instagram slides and instagram stories and I. G content and everything so that's really kind of um but then the other girls maybe not so much but I've been having like just ring and catch up a zoom call just just because they're like hey how you doing like you want to grab a tea and catch up just because you know people are craving that connection whether it's from their boss or from their like person they used to hang out with, it's just being making sure that they're okay on a work front but also just on a personal front. Yeah absolutely. Um So I touched on already some of the I.
00:40:17Edit G. Questions that I had come through but I had to others that I wanted to ask you, Someone was asking about specifically around business plan. So when some people have started kind of with sampling and no business plan, they just kind of starting fresh slate and then there are other people who really start with a business plan and everything is written into a document and you've kind of got the vision from day one. How did you guys start, did you have that business plan? And how did you wrap your brain around where to start with it? Yeah definitely. When to santa came to me there was like sketches and a name and so there was no business plan and so as the months unfolded we definitely put together, like I wrote a business plan of like what sets us apart, what's our us like unique selling point um who is our target market? Who is she? Where do they shop? Like I went and dive deep in the hole like marketing and behave and behavioral demographic kind of sides of things. So we knew who that customer was or who we thought she was like, yeah, I mean uh I think as our brand grows and we and the people are growing with it that maybe we, at first we thought it was like 30 to forties, but now there's definitely, we can see like 25 to 35 is where our kind of um our buyer or our customers sitting, so she's a little bit younger.
00:41:44Edit Um and maybe the younger the people, they watch us for a few months or six months and wait till we go on sale. Whereas the other customers happy to buy at us at any point in time. So there's a different, there's different um women of salute in our groups of um in our community as well. So um yeah, so I kind of really wanted to dive into who that person was to then be able to market to them. Um and create a strategy around who she was. Otherwise you're just going out there with like different tone of voice and like different like aesthetics online. So we wanted to make sure that we had consistency throughout that and that's where my expertise came in because that's what I did for 10, 10 years before launching this brand, so that's why what I love, I love creating that brand DNA, that storytelling and the consistency of brand voice. And the other question I had come through was one of the pros and cons of stocking with big retailers. So I imagine like the Selfridges of the world, um and I guess your answer would probably be a little bit different, you know, three weeks ago to what it is now.
00:42:54Edit Yeah, so, so prose is obviously you're getting a whole new uh well access to a physical point, so we don't have a store. So we we do pop up stores, we did one last summer over for three months. So I'm just having the ability for people to try on leggings, because like, if you've never tried on our leggings, you don't know how they fit or how they make you feel or um how they support you. So, having that physical space was really important for us to people just walk past touches and want to try us on. Um so that was really great and then just being able to, you know, have that brand alignment or the status that comes with being in a in a really big retailer. It just people percy views in a certain category or a certain kind of ballpark of brands, rather than just being like an unknown brand on an online website. Um so that was really, like positive for us. Um the negatives, the cons is that they take such a big chunk of the margin which is not great.
00:43:56Edit Um So a lot of the times they won't want to pay you up front, so they want to go on consignment and they will pay you once the season's over, so that's not great for cash flow. Um They return stock and I'm not saying any brands or particular, but they return stock and like 30-40% of it is um soiled. So it's like got makeup on it or it's like got deodorant or it's been like looks like it's being used to mop the floor just really not great. And then like and then they don't even pay for the stuff they've sold for like two months later. So um you know, some are worse and some are better and yeah, and then a big problem when you've got a big retailer placing a huge order with you and you need to pay it up front with your factory. Yeah, so that's the one of the biggest thing is that that factories want upfront payment and then and then you're only selling that like for the next for us, it's like six months.
00:45:01Edit So we don't really work to a really tight seasonal strategy, a seasonal collection because we are kind of whole ethos is like creating seasonless silhouettes for um the Active woman. Yeah. And do you have any kind of final advice for anyone who, I mean I know we spoke a moment a few moments ago about making sure if you really want to do it, but some more kind of final advice for any young woman or any woman in general who is wanting to start a brand in the fashion or Activewear sort of space. Yeah, I think if I was to now start a brand and I'm definitely not disheartened from starting brands, um just make sure that there is, you know, a difference with your brand, you know, there's no point creating another lululemon or another um rick. So just you know, you need to have that differentiation about your what makes your brand special and it doesn't need to be rocket science, it doesn't need to be that it's like, it solves this amazing problem, it might just be that there's no um there's no really good quality like insert brand here in the bridge category, in the price, you know, and knowing as a customer myself that there wasn't, there was like a gap in the market, say four years ago, there was no there was either like Nike or lululemon and they were doing not so much like different styles and unitards and things that we were really inspired by.
00:46:34Edit Um obviously now that's been a trend and like there's been new brands, boutique brands that have popped up as well, so we really came from a need to want to design something really beautiful and functional and things that you didn't mind going wearing to brunch on a saturday or walking around just being seen in a um cool, that's all my questions. Thank you so much. I always amazing thank you for having me. I always end every interview with the six quick questions that I ask every woman um which I find is just so nice to get kind of a dataset across everyone I speak to the similarities and the differences between the women that I speak to. So it's just a quick fire round, it's really fast. Um what's your, why my why is my wife is making making sure that what I'm doing makes me feel good and then so I know make other people feel good. So anytime I put on a piece of solu I feel amazing before I've even worked out and then when I work out I have the adrenaline from working out as well.
00:47:41Edit So it's like a catch 22. Um yeah, always always a plus. What's the number one marketing strategy that made your business pop the key kind of thing? It's such a, I think that definitely it's the mix of everything that has created. The strength is like the variety, so not all having your eggs in one basket, but I think the death what makes us different is having out women of solu um community. Yeah And number three is where do you hang out to get smarter books podcasts. Yeah, yeah podcast. I love podcasts? Um at the moment, that's when I used to commute or when I go on my daily exercise walk now I am listening to podcasts and um uh ones that I listened to. Uh So almost 30 below 30 something about 30. I'm not really good at remembering names, I'm so bad.
00:48:47Edit I was thinking like five things in a day and then be like, well I can't remember. Um I'm exactly the same. Here we go. I'm going into my Um, what I know now is one almost 30 is a, an american one. It's with two girls and it's about people reinventing themselves. Um second life podcast is about people that have had now a second life and being successful in their second life rather than, you know, they may have been a lawyer and then their second life was creating a pregnancy wear brand. They're really good. Um, I can continue on the business of wellness by Lauren arms because obviously we're in wellness and she's really um, oh no, I need to chat to Lauren. Haven't caught up with since I've been back. Um, I do love the goop podcast as well. I mean my, the joe Rogan experience, I really am. Um yeah, deep in the podcast.
00:49:50Edit Deep in the podcast. Yeah, Renee Brown has just launched her um not really business focus, but um it's called unlocking us. Um and she is, yes, I started up on the other day. So good. Yeah. Number four is, how do you win the day and that's kind of around your AM and PM rituals, things that you do that make you productive and succeeding or, or in your own personal way, like just achieving things that so my, I need to move every day. So um I need to move my body. My human design chart is um generating manifesto or manifesting generator and it's in my chart that I need to move and I didn't realize this until a couple of weeks ago but like my first thing I do is I get up and either go to yoga or Pilates or go for a run. And my husband is like why do you always get up so early and why do you make sure I'm like, it makes me feel good. I'm addicted to the endorphins, whatever it is.
00:50:51Edit So yeah, that's my, as a human design chart. I've never heard of that. We need to have a look into it. It's kind of like a mixture of like your star sign, your moon, sign your, what makes you up like you know like how you do our Aveda, like all the different things that make you up as a human and and then it also explains to you like helps you to get really like not down on your purpose and your why I can send you a link after this. Um Living my God, please do it with your design is she's on instagram. I did a design a reading with her. So it's like a not a horoscope reading but kind of just like breaks down on what makes you up, how you're connected with your body, how where you should be making most of your decisions from and I knew this but I didn't like, it was more of a reinforcement like minor all comes from my gut and it either has to be a hell yes or hell no. And if it's anything in between don't act on it, like if it's all, yeah, that sounds good but it needs to be like a hell yes or hell no. So yeah, I would definitely look into that. It's really really really good.
00:51:53Edit I love that. I'm gonna do it this afternoon. Um Question number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it or where would you allocate it by a one way ticket to somewhere else? No $1,000. I read this question when you send it to me and I was like, oh my goodness, I would have no idea. Um I guess it's a question that's kind of really, it's trying to pinpoint what the most important revenue driver for your business is to keep you going. I mean our google ads um do really help. So I do spend pretty much majority of our advertising budget, not that we have a huge budget. I spend what we can spare on my, on on instagram ads and google ads so it converts for us. So I continue to do it amazing. And the last final question is how do you deal with failure?
00:52:53Edit Which can either be a specific example or just your general approach to crisis and I guess crisis in this in this time is, yeah, I mean I'm, I've failed a lot in the last three years with what we've like with just manufacturing and all those things like making mistakes. Not um, I can't think of one like, like our first collection we did, we ordered way too much of things that we shouldn't have ordered and we still have them now, but we had no idea. I had no idea. Neither did Tatiana of like how much should our first ought to be like um, yeah, I would say go small. Um, and test the market before you spend all of your money on your first order and then spend the next year trying to sell it. Thank you so much for talking to us. Thank you taking the time out of your day.