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How to Brand

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Crowdfunding: One Way to Finance Your New Clothing Line

Among the many doctor and actor aspirations, lays an ambition many are not equipped to start: creating their own business. As many startups disappoint before they’re fully able to thrive, a middle ground of uncertainty is present: how does a novice idea meet the demands of initial costs, provide a product worthy of consumer demands yet provide an opportunity to gain loyal customers willing to purchase at my inauguration? Enter Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform that provides potential entrepreneurs with the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality.

There are many variables contributing to the success or deemed failure of companies; some externally or internally known while others are not. Whether or not the variables identified to the failure are presented, it’s best to reflect upon the factors contributing to success. I had the pleasure to speak with two very successful brands– one that has had recent achievement and the other still in the process of a crowdfunding triumph. Whether you’re planning the next great funded project or simply looking for inspiration from relatable businessmen, Ryan Beltran from Original Grain and Jake Joseph from Jake Joseph Underwear are idyllic.

Before investing in inventory and product development to begin any business venture, research and adequate testing are needed to determine if your product is in demand. With that said, Ryan Beltran believes “Crowdfunding is a great avenue for testing products and gauging potential demand” as it develops a platform for advancing decisions to determine to continue or not. It’s also a great platform due to the audience – “an overflow of people who appreciate creativity and I wanted to reach and work with those people” reveals Jake Joseph.

As one of the most funded fashion projects to date, Original Grain fuses local wood inspiration from their Pacific Northwest hometown and modern eminence that results in a captivating timepiece. “Our primary goal when launching Original Grain (OG) was to develop a product unlike any other on the market. We wanted to create a watch that would ‘turn heads’, but was top notch in terms of its quality. That’s to be great at making our watches and provide a good experience for each and every customer we have.” With plans to solidify OG as household name and eventually expanding into a lifestyle brand, “the only way I can get there is  to focus on making a high quality product and continuously innovating our product offering.”

Original Grain

Jake Joseph elevates a traditional, hidden piece and “adds quality and workmanship to an often neglected garment”– underwear and proves that internal details and value of the first layer of adornment is equally vital. Insight to this piece was gained as this was in the process of development just as his project was launching. “We are constantly looking for ways to design products that are not just beautiful, but offer a solution too. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter are terrific platforms to introduce the The ZenSho Collective – the first underwear to never rise.” Ultimately, passion is vital Joseph believes, “be passionate about the product you want to introduce and illustrate that passion in your product and its benefits.” Genuinely understand your audience while developing an approach to providing them with a highly unique outcome, just as the exclusive underclothing of Jake Joseph has done.

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Passion coupled with an essential connection with your audience and quality product, all combine to make both of these company’s successful crowdfunded projects. “Kickstarter is an amazing community of people that want to help companies get off the ground…you just gotta go and do the dang thing.” Provide an experience for the consumer by revealing your story; when done effectively, the generated buzz will appeal to the need of your consumer now while also illustrating ideas for the future. “People love helping others achieve their goals, especially when they’re genuine” concludes Beltran. Therefore, the highly advantageous and mutually beneficial Kickstarter are highly recommended for the inner entrepreneur in all.

Original Grain: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/originalgrain/original-grain-all-natural-wood-and-stainless-stee

Jake Joseph: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/678444944/jake-joseph-redefining-mens-underwear?ref=discovery

By: Storm Tyler

***Update: Check out one of our brands NAMAKAN FUR: they just ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and we’re now in production – product to be completed January 2017

150 150 Jesse Dombrowiak

International Clothing Line Shares about Creating Apparel

As one of the exhibitors of Magic Marketweek Feb 2014, Indie Source, got a chance to meet with Founders, Sheena Gao and Laura Krusemark from the brand International Citizen (i.CTZN), who was also awarded as being “Best Emerging Designer,” for Magic Marketweek’s 2012. We wanted to sit down with i.CTZN to hear more about their personal story on creating an apparel line with global appeal that is unifying various cultures from around the world. Here we got the scoop from some eclectic ladies that have some interesting strategies and techniques to share with aspiring designers. Our interview is as follows:

 

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Q: Please tell our professional network at Indie Source how the brand of International Citizen came about? What was the brainchild behind iCTZN?

A: After 15 years of working in Apparel Product Development with some of the leading retailers in the U.S., as well as mentoring many talented designers from Europe, Asia, and U.S.A., I decided I had the perfect opportunity to launch a fashion line, something I had been wanting to do for a long time. Along with my talented friend, fellow fashion designer Laura Krusemark, we formed International Citizen Design House, LLC also known as International Citizen [i.CTZN]. The brand is based on inspiration from both of our passions for world travel and fashion.

 

Q: So, how do you take an idea and concept that spans world-wide, meant to unify all cultures, and develop an apparel line that reaches a broad spectrum of individuals to create mass appeal? What type of research did you both do before going into production with your line, so you knew you would attain a global desirability for your brand?

A:  From our world travels, we’ve realized there is a niche market for our unique style that blends cultural details into the garments.  We incorporate these cultures and countries by showing their flags as patches or screen-print calligraphy in different languages but all with a universal style that is comfortable to wear and easy for travel.

 

Q: Is there a particular age demographic for iCTZN? If so, can you please tell us more about your target consumers and who you feel are the buyers of your brand of clothing and why?

 A:  Our demographic is between the ages of 28 and 48. We target a middle to upper class individual that has a strong level of education, works in the creative field, is inspired by travel, international cuisine, music and learning about the cultures of others. Our clothing stands out clearly from other brands and the demographic we cater to is always excited when they get to touch and feel our product. Its all about getting in front of the right people, at volume.

 

Q: Is i.CTZN currently abroad in any specialty stores that are located in foreign markets? If so, how were you able to tap into those markets? Please give our network some solid tips to break into certain markets based on some of your personal experiences of being in the industry in regards to building iCTZN’s brand on an international level?

A:  Yes, we are currently carried in stores in Tokyo, Japan and have lots of interest from Germany, Spain and France as well as Canada. We were able to find these buyers by doing trade shows such as MAGIC.  We find the best way to break into the market and find new buyers is by doing these trade shows…as many as possible for the best exposure. We have also done fashion shows and been featured in magazines which helps for the branding and exposure, but for actual sales, tradeshows have been the most valuable.

 

Q: If you are physically not in markets abroad, does i.CTZN produce a lot of online sales on a global level; and if so, what type of online marketing have you done to be effective in gaining an online presence of followers to promote sales abroad?

A: We have our website online and we also promote and sell on Amazon and Etsy which are both Internationally known sites.  We also have followers on our Facebook fan page, Twitter, our blog, Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest – all of these sites provide international exposure and allow us to have more the most reach.

 

Q: Where is iCTZN housed, where can consumers purchase your clothing– in stores locally here within the US and online, and how did you connect with the owners and boutiques of some of these stores?

A: We are based out of West Hollywood and consumers can purchase our current inventory on Etsy.  However, we predominately focus on wholesale to buyers for retailers.  Most all of these storeowners have met us through doing trade shows such as MAGIC.

 

Q: Can you please share with Indie Source and our followers some current projects that i.CTZN is involved in that our professional network of followers would be interested in hearing about, so we could keep an eye out and promote iCTZN with these endeavors?

A:    We will be showing with RAW Artists fashion show coming up on April 13th in Hollywood and also working on partnership and licensing with Paramount Pics.  Please follow our progress on our Facebook fan page, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates and news on International Citizen’s events.

 

Q: Since the world is so big, how do you strategize and determine what destinations to hit up first, and what are specifically some pre-marketing tests that you perform to do some of the analytics to verify if i.CTZN’s clothing will be well received in various countries abroad?

A: We have worked with a marketing company in Spain, who have recommended testing our product in fashion capitals such as Berlin, Milan, Barcelona and London. We have discussed a gorilla style marketing technique(s) to introduce the brand to their markets and see how well received they are.  In our four year experience, our feedback from European countries as well as Asian countries have been very positive so I know we would have a good customer following there.

 

Q: Lastly, what does i.CTZN mean to you and what type of lasting impression do you want i.CTZN to have within the industry of the world of fashion and for your consumers?

A: We are dedicated to promoting the power of universal oneness and creating openness between cultures and countries through unique men’s and women’s fashion. We hope we can continue to represent this vision and create a lasting impression within the world of fashion for many years to come.

International Citizen Apparel

International Citizen Apparel


Jesse Dombrowiak

Onzie Yoga Apparel; Q&A w/ Founder Kimberly Swarth

More than two decades ago, Yoga became a lifestyle practice for Kimberly Swarth and with it, the driving force of her business. Swarth has another milestone coming for her next year; she is coming into motherhood. Now that the Onzie brand, pronounced OWN-zee, has been well loved within the culture of fitness and training, she takes most of her work / life balance along with her vision, in the most wonderful humor. “My brand will pierce the heavens” could easily be her mantra—and until today, her thriving L.A business has been her baby. Swarth shares her wit and wisdom with Indie Source in an exclusive interview.

Q: Are you just the woman behind the Onzie brand, or are you part of an out-front effort to manufacture a holistic line of active wear?

A: We have really created this business as a team here. In terms of creating the brand, I feel that the people who are here with us have created it—this brand is not even really me anymore. We have created a workplace culture, a powerful all female crew with an entity of its own.

Q: How did your team come into being?

A: Each person here came to us in a different way, there was not a usual hiring process, everyone is so unique and brings a piece to the puzzle—each one an individual in our community that has built us into the company we are today.

Q: Who is the woman behind the Onzie brand? How would you describe her? Who is she and how does your brand pay tribute to her?

A: On our Instagram there are hundreds of photographs of this woman—this woman that is dedicated to the practice, very dedicated to her workout and she is proud of her own health. The Onzie woman is all of these things; she is like a goddess. Our site shows her in so many forms, she is healthy and she is glowing in all of her beauty. With our product, we aspire to match that goddess concept—in both femininity and strength.

 

Q: Beauty in strength is also a hard-fought win. The Onzie woman has worked hard to evolve and to strengthen her form through meditation and stamina. In what ways has your business done the same?

A: In our organization, my mother, has been doing Bikram Yoga for now, 25-years. It all started with her. Bikram Yoga is done in a heated room of about 100 degrees. Back in the 90s, you worked out in a leotard. You sweat so much that you had to wear a one-piece garment and we started playing around with a mix of different colors for that initial piece—sort of like a onesie—a classic piece for practicing yoga was at the center of our design. We made a word play off of it and pronounced it OWN-zee, and all we were making was a leotard at the time—we liked how the word looked, and then it took off.

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Q: So, you set out to put an end to the plain black yoga wear?

A: Yeah, I guess we did. Four-years ago people were not doing color like this. There were no prints for yoga. It was subdued an pastel, calming and quiet. The Kundalini woman was soft, draped in white fabric. She was not letting her higher-self shine through. Today there are many other expressions of exercise and we wanted our line to really let the practice match the experience and all of that color brings.

 

 

 

Q: So, is it safe to assume that you all practice yoga. How have you utilized the principles of yoga practice in your own business?

A: Yes. We do. My staff here, they are all dedicated to their own workouts. The health and wellbeing of our minds is something we practice in our business as well. Our roots are in Bikram Yoga and hot yoga. Dedication, endurance, and determination are huge in our business. At its core—what makes it work— we are sometimes too dedicated—but we have really worked as a team to achieve our goals together and stay strong. We have a Rock star authenticity, All of us here, we are all determined to get that high that comes with doing something really well, and that helps us all to be focused.

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Q: How do you decide what to manufacture in your line? Who makes the decisions as to the growth and the look of your brand?

A: The Bikram Yogi was always a bit flashier, a bit more whimsy; we want that to be live in our brand. What’s the most important to us is that we are making a killer fabrication—the product is key—there are so many different products out there, we have stayed really true to our core— and for the price-point that is required for accessibility of our clothes. All of our decisions are made around that truth.

 

Q: You have celebrity interest in your designs—in the funky prints and ‘mod’ designs.  Even Lady Gaga wears Onzie. How did she find out about your clothing and come to take a selfie wearing one of your prints?

A: It is all, organic—it is through the yoga. She is actually an avid Bikram yogi and one of her teachers is connected to the brand and bought our stuff, and literally just rocked it in class. It was not just a PR thing. We don’t do anything like that. The clothing speaks for itself—it’s where a little bit of karma gets you, and a good product.

 

Q: Offer a bit of advice to aspiring designers here. What are the four things you can suggest to make a line a success?

A: I would say that they should have spirit; they need to know their customer well, and live the lifestyle to match their end user—and have some fun. It is also important to make your line accessible to people and an affordable part of their lives—make that a priority in your business and everything else around your commitment to your work will come natural.

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At Onzie, our philosophy is “keep your practice challenging, and your wardrobe simple!”

Indie Source makes premium apparel for clothing brands, then ensures those products make a big impact in the market. Learn more about how they support fashion brands with garment development, apparel manufacturing,  fashion sales and marketing at www.IndieSource.com  

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