It doesn’t matter if you hate marketing, you have to do it if you decide to be an entrepreneur. I launched my clothing line last summer and since then I’ve regularly struggled with marketing tools.
It became more complicated when I moved to another city and found myself in the ocean of new customers and possibilities, which I hardly could reach. Back in Moscow, where I’m from, I’ve built an audience, not big but good enough to grow my brand slowly and gradually. In New York, where I landed unexpectedly, I have to push myself much harder to give a voice to my line.
I started thinking of honesty and its place in my ads, when I posted a picture of myself looking happy while sewing a red dress.In reality the story wasn’t smooth as it looked. I was in a new city, with no customers and no orders at all. My boyfriend pointed out my shyness, and advised for me to go out more, to build my network. Great advice by the way, but it goes against my social anxiety.
I’m writing this personal story to provide the reasons I got so concerned with my brand’s strategy. In February, I came up with the idea of an Instagram campaign #aboutusnotclothing — where great women around the World post their Instagram picture on the same day, April 16th (a totally random date), wearing a piece from my Figura collection. This project merges my personal values and my vision about clothing.
First of all, this story is about people, not clothing. Usual fashion industry focuses on clothing items rather than the individuals wearing them. In this sense I don't do fashion; I create simple things to provide daily comfort. And instead of featuring professional models in my shoots, I present real women with passion and a story.
I follow a lot of nice people on Instagram. Their jobs, hobbies, daily routine, morning coffee, and even favorite meals — these intimate details, significant for their very insignificance, are what makes these people real and cool. I contacted a few women I've been following on Instagram for years and asked to collaborate.
Surprisingly, I’ve found my way to say “hi” that feels okay and not so awkward. I’ve been so happy to work on this project. Nothing matters so much for me, but finding joy in process.
It is so cool to communicate with people whose works are your daily cup of inspiration. I was invited to Danielle’s studio in Greenpoint, for example. Her wonderful illustrations are my usual wallpaper for iPhone. Or I’ve made friends with Olalla, a beautiful creature from Canary Island. I"like" her pictures millions of times before, but was too shy to say thanks. Another muse, Fiona, a mother of three and a beautiful strong woman, lives on a small Scottish island, literally in the middle of nowhere. When I sent her a package and wrote down her funny address, which sounds close to “a wooden house near that big tree”, I was sure the package would be lost (it didn’t).
There are no professional models, no retouching, and no staging — just honesty. Let the people who wear your clothes decide how to present them! By this campaign I had a chance to highlight what I think of fashion.
I’m so happy to see more and more companies speaking honestly in their campaigns. Everlane was one of the first who took action around transparency. This winter they launched a great sale option letting shoppers choose their own price on select merchandise. You could choose what to pay and Everlane would break down where your money's going. I can’t agree more with Everlane CEO, Michael Preysman, "If you're honest and transparent with people, then they'll sort of treat you with decency in return."
What was considered a radical transparency years ago, became more common today. Look at a new brand “Thinx”, which is “committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation”. They put out a campaign focused on “about-period talks, that are probably more intimate than any conversations we had with our moms, and they sound cool and refreshingly honest.
My other muse, Elizabeth Suzann, a clothing designer from Nashville, has a strong tone about her philosophy. She goes around the idea of essential items which you can love and wear for ages — “By ultimately creating seasonless pieces that can be worn a myriad of ways, we aim to discourage the disposable view of clothing that has become increasingly pervasive. Our hope is to return to the days of a minimal, functional wardrobe worthy of care and passing on”. She launched her “Signature Collection”, presenting a great photoshoot of wonderful real women.
Talking about beauty standards and stereotypes, I can’t help but mention Christian Louboutin Nude Collection, providing 5 shades of nude color. Usually, nude collections were intended to give the illusion of bare skin — but for only one skin tone.
Another example is a fresh brand Najo with its “Nude For All” underwear collections. They presented seven shades of nude — “Why try to fit into someone else's skin when you can shine in your own? We started Nude For All because we believed it was time to change the idea that there is only one nude”.
All these examples give me a real hope that we’re finally challenging this old world with its strict rules and standards around fashion. I’m sure that marketing can be honest, and we, makers, designers, artists, should be honest with ourselves and our customers.
Post by Elena Zaharova