We've been gearing up for this for nearly a year. On 8th March, to coincide with International Women's Day, we finally launched the WYNAD Clothing website and online shop.
After many months of designing, sampling, testing, meeting suppliers, ordering fabrics, organising photo shoots and putting the website together, we are so thrilled to have launched our Spring/Summer collection and share our labours of love with the world!
It's a monumental milestone for us, yet Hannah and I know that there is still so much work to be done if we want our social enterprise to succeed and benefit the people we pledged to support with the profits we make.
Neither of us has set up a company before, so we are truly learning 'on the job', picking up advice and best practice ideas as we go. The launch of the Spring/Summer collection – and WYNAD Clothing as a trading company – was based around 5 key pillars which add up (we hope!) to a really successful launch which we can build on for continued success.
These are: Website, Lookbook, Networking, Social Media and Events. I wanted to touch on each of these to give a bit of insight into how we approached our milestone launch.
Arguably the most important of the five.
Our website is the only place where people can purchase our carefully designed and lovingly produced clothes. So it has to be well executed, have a great user experience and visually beautiful if we want our collection to make an impact and, of course, to sell!
Without coding or web development experience, we were happy to find that off-the-shelf website building platforms such as Wix.com were brilliantly easy to use and allowed us to build something totally from scratch, which we're happy with and delivers a good experience across desktop and mobile.
Using a mixture of editorial photography combined with e-commerce shots and a bit of copy about our mission and story, the look book is our tool for reaching out to the fashion world, providing a very visual and creative showcase of our collection.
To create our look book, Hannah used a simple drag-and-drop tool on flipsnack.com. Check out our Look Book >
We decided early on to commit to a relatively small round of production initially, which meant that we weren't actively looking for wholesale partners. (Wholesale is where you sell your products in bulk to a third party for a price lower than your retail price, in order to sell higher quantities).
That being said, with our newly developed look book and a fantastic press release, we've been able to approach a few select retailers to begin discussing other partnership models. For example, some retailers operate a "drop shipping" model, meaning that once we hook our online product information to their website, their customers can purchase one of our products and we fulfil the order – rather than the retailer housing the stock theirselves. The retailer takes a percentage of the sale as commission.
Along with retailers, we've been focusing on connecting ourselves with some key influencers in the ethical fashion space in the UK.
Bloggers like Ethical Unicorn, which has fantastic reach, can really help us to raise our profile in the UK. There are also some really active and forward-thinking online groups such as Ethical Hour, which provides a platform and forum for ethical businesses to connect, promote their products, share ideas, celebrate wins and discuss their learnings.
So far, this has been our main form of marketing, with our Facebook page being our main focus and a key direct marketing channel. Up until now, our growth in likes and followers has been entirely organic. However, now that we have tangible products to sell, we will be starting to use the Facebook Business Manager tool, which allows us to tailor our Facebook ads to reach people who are likely to be interested in our brand and our products.
Alongside Facebook, we've been sharing our journey through videos on our YouTube channel and building our visual brand through our Instagram posts.
Whilst online promotion has an obvious role to play for us (given we're an online retailer!), we know that there is a lot more involved in brand building if we want to make an impact and build on our product sales.
A launch party is a great way to generate buzz, get people talking and really engage some key people - buyers, advocates and influencers in particular - with our brand and the new collection. It's also chance to celebrate what we've achieved so far, with the people who have been part of the journey with us to date.
We'll be hosting it during Fashion Revolution Week (23-29 April), which is a week-long international movement created to raise awareness of the negative human and environmental impact of the fashion world, including atrocities such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. The movement also aims to raise the profiles of brands which are working to bring about positive change in the industry, for example through greater supply chain transparency.
In addition to the launch party, we'll be attending an ethical fashion event at The Museum of Brands in London on 28th April, where we'll be showcasing our products along with 30 other emerging brands, and we've been asked to share our story at an ethical retail conference in June.
With our collection ready to go, our website launched and a couple of events in place to kick us off, we'll be making sure to build on the momentum.
We're currently looking at setting up a pop-up stall at festivals in the summer, putting together an ethical fashion workshop for secondary school kids, launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the next stage of our business growth, and developing new ideas and designs for our next collection!
Watch this space for more news and updates!