This is an interview with an LA based clothing designer who is a friend of Ellie’s. We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.
CSM: What kind of business do you own?
Answer: A women’s contemporary, eco-friendly clothing line sold in small boutiques, and a secondary line sold in a contemporary mass-market retailer.
CSM: Where is your business located? Where do you do most of your sales?
A: Los Angeles. My showroom is based out of Los Angeles, but I sell primarily to boutiques on the East coast.
CSM: What is your target demographic?
A: 25-40. City-dweller. College and above. Either in a creative field or views themselves as creative.
CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy?
A: Digital: but primarily through blogs and press writing about us, through finding out about us or our press releases. We are of the strategy that we don’t pay for press, we are interesting enough to warrant press on our own.
CSM: What social media do you use (facebook, twitter, etsy, etc.)?
A: Our own website.
Our blog (one per line).
Facebook pages (one per line).
CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business?
A: The main goal at this point is to build awareness to support the stores that carry our line, and to eventually drive sales to our online sales. My blog gets only about 400 readers a day, and I keep writing for personal interest as well as so that when I post something about my line: at least 400 people see it that day.
But…I don’t really know how much it does. My product is specific, fitted and sized it’s a lot harder for me to convert to a web sale. A friend has a t-shirt line and she sells tons anytime she posts a sale on twitter or fb: but it’s simply sized and boys buy it too.
CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?
A: That’s a good question: it amazes me that people I’ve never heard of “like” my line on facebook, so in some ways I’m more connected to people that are a part of my company’s community. But how many of those “likes” are as important as someone who bought a dress of mine three years ago, then again last year, then found my secondary line, bought two pieces, and then gave another piece as a gift and talks up my line whenever possible, and hates facebook?
CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?
A: I view social media more as a display case for what our brand is doing than an outreach tool. So, I wouldn’t be able to tell as many people what we are up to or I would need another outlet. I think that the internet and social media is invaluable to young and independent designers, that having been said, it’s also a bit of a time suck. 🙂
CSM: Is there any instance in todays world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?
The other day I heard on the radio a chapstick ad where they extolled you to “learn more about us on facebook” and my aunt’s company (a science/tech/but only to the industry company) had her do a facebook page and the other day Tide told me that like 40 of my friends were fans of Tide. First of all, unless you have a full marketing plan to roll out with your FB or twitter or whatever, or if you are a big mainstream company it’s pretty pointless. Secondly, anyone who “likes” a big mainstream brand unless it’s Obama, is a nerd and not a social innovator and their FB status aren’t even coming up on my home page and I don’t really care what they think anyway. Thirdly, if your company doesn’t interact with individual consumers: I would skip the social networking unless you are in tech.
CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?
A: One has to figure out what type of social media is best in relation to their line and in relation to them as the spokesperson for their line, if they are one.
Blogging makes sense for me because it fills in the holes of the inspiration and interest in my line—if you think my line/blog is cool—maybe you think my blog/line is cool. Facebook is to connect on a more direct level for people. I don’t do twitter because I don’t want my Self to be too closely aligned to my brand, my Self is worth more than my line. We can all smell the cheese when someone tweets or FB for their job or whatever—horrible. I also don’t value the idea of twitter: I think it’s a waste of time unless there is a crime on my street or an attack in Mumbai.