Sarah Coronado takes us behind the scenes of her $87,000 Kickstarter campaign. Learn first hand how to launch a fashion brand on Kickstarter including how to prepare for your campaign, what to do to make sure it’s successful, and how to keep up momentum after it ends.
With no fashion background, experience or contacts, Sarah Coronado launched an insanely successful Kickstarter campaign for her underwear line, Blooms Privé. Now, if you listen to the interview, you’ll hear me mention multiple times that these undies – the world’s first period-friendly travel panty – are not something that a podcast does justice to.
You have to see them to really appreciate the ingenuity behind the product. Meticulously engineered for quick change and self-packing so you can be discrete, here are the undies every woman needs in her drawer:
Sarah’s journey from idea to launch is not unique. Like most successful brands and Kickstarter campaigns, it took a lot of hard work, passion and drive. Within the first few minutes of meeting her, it was clear that her ambitious attitude and unwillingness to accept rejection or failure is why she’s been able to create so many amazing opportunities for herself.
Sarah spent 9 months planning and strategizing the Blooms Privé Kickstarter campaign to make sure things went right. She also enlisted the help of experts to support with unknown territories. Her planning and careful execution resulted in not only a successful campaign, but she planned ahead to make sure she could keep up the momentum after it all ended.
I really hope you love this interview as much as I did, Sarah’s story is inspiring, honest and humble. If you’re thinking about launching a label or doing a Kickstarter campaign, there is so much packed in our 49 minutes together that I know you’ll love.
Heidi: Hey everybody this is Sew Heidi and your listening to the Successful Fashion Designer podcast. We all know that the fashion industry is brutally competitive and it takes loads of hard work to get ahead. The problem is secretive and tight lip about their ways. After working as a designer and educator for over a decade, I wanted to help break down those barriers and bring you valuable knowledge from industry experts and this show is exactly where you’ll find that. Whether you’re trying to break into the fashion world, make yourself more marketable, launch your own label and successful freelancer will help you get ahead in the cutthroat fashion industry. This is episode Thirty-one of the Successful Fashion Designer podcast and today I’m chatting with Sarah Coronado. Sarah launched an insanely successful kickstarter campaign for her underwear line, Blooms Privé, and in this interview she’s gonna tell us all about it. Now her underwear is not just any underwear line, it is the world’s first period-friendly travel panty and that even in itself does not do it justice you guys have to check out the show notes, check out her website bloomsprive.com and take a look at how this underwear works it has this clasp on the side and it self-packs into a little pouch inside of the underwear. It’s a really, really, really cool item that she created out of necessity and I can’t wait for her to share her entire story. Now Sarah has no background or experienced in fashion when she got started and she figure out the hard way how to launch and build not just one but two fashion brand. First she launched a denim line about five or six years ago and now she has her brand Blooms Privé. Sarah did what any driven and ambitious entrepreneur would do and she got out there and figure out how to do everything by googling, reading article, and reaching out to anyone and everyone she could to get help. Now the problem with that was that she didn’t really know anybody in fashion since she didn’t work in the industry and she had no contacts, and so that meant by reaching out and cold calling.
Sarah: Reach out, do cold calls, cold emails and continue to just be driven by your own passion because you are smart and as talented as anyone else out there, and that’s one thing we often forget that we are usually.. we get in our own way.
Heidi: Now in our interview Sarah walks us through the exact step by step process what it takes to launch a successful kickstarter campaign and just importantly She talks about how to keep up momentum and to continue and engage with your customers how the campaign ends. It’s a really, really great story and her journey is really fun and inspiring and I can’t wait for you guys to listen to this episode. Now, I know I always ask you to share the show and I’m gonna ask your to do so again right now. If you enjoyed this podcast here’s what I want you to do: I always talk about the value of building relationships and providing people with values, so when you need something like Sarah did she needed help, she needed support in the industry and sometimes it’s not just about going out there and asking for people to give you things but to also provide them with value and maybe this episode or maybe one of the other episodes in this show is a way that you could provide value to someone who you need something from in this industry. It could someone you don’t know who you wanna pick their brain for ten minutes on the phone on about how to start your fashion label or anything. So think about you need a favor from instead of just going out directly and saying “hey, I have this question can you help me answer it?” Think about how you can give them value and that maybe sharing this podcast with them “hey, here’s this really great episode I listen to of this Successful Fashion Designer podcast and I thought you would enjoy it as well. I wanted to share it with you, I just thought that it could really help you on your ventures in your fashion career, launching your label” whatever it is that they are doing. And that’s a great lead in to then asking them for what you need from them. So always think about how you can provide values for others, it really helps build relationships and that just maybe in sharing this podcast. So if you have someone that you need something from why don’t you lead with sharing the podcast and giving them some value and then going and asking for what you need. Awesome, thank you so much for sharing, you guys really appreciate the help. Now to access the show notes for today’s episode, visit sfdnetwork.com/31. Alright on to the interview with Sarah.
Heidi: Welcome Sarah to the Successful Fashion Designer podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you, you have shared part of your journey with me and your amazing insane success on kickstarter with your brand but today I’m really excited to hear more about uhh… everything that’s going on, so to start out can you~ please introduce yourself and tell us who you are and what you do in the fashion industry.
Sarah: Thank you for having me Heidi, I’m super excited to be here. I started fashion design about six years ago with no background to ever have started studying fashion. I’m actually a project and program manager in the High-tech security industry, so for twelve years I was uhh… you know doing project management and corporation and on the side after work and during just burning the midnight oil I would be starting business ideas and one particular evening I thought I would get into designing jeans and that was about six/seven years ago. The denim that I started was lotus premium denim and that was the beginning of the entire lotus and blooms empire that you know brand that I’m building right now, and I really wanted to just make something that would fit me. Having no prior knowledge to fashion or fashion school or anything like that. I just wanted to create something and as an entrepreneur, you know anytime you base all necessities the mother of all inventions so anytime I envision something and I want to make something a little bit better whatever I sell them on the market wasn’t you know if it didn’t satisfy me and I just wanted to create something better I just you know took my idea and I would prototype it and that was what started really my fashion career, I made jeans that fit me really well and when I got my friends to try it on, they loved it and so then we started the idea of just creating denim made to fit women with average to petite height and then it really, really caught wind here in California and in the bay area is where I’m from. So from then on I just started traveling up and down the state, i even did a kickstarter for the denim, did truck shows for it and you know after that I opened up a yoga studio, quit my corporate job and it was then and there I had the idea of developing what is now called the Blooms Privé underwear for women that is offers women quick change and it travel friendly and is also period friendly. So anytime I need something, it was born out of my own desire my own necessity and I just took the idea and then would just prototype whatever I could think of and then validated it with a couple of other women and the rest is history, so that’s really my fashion background, it’s not a formal one but it definitely is driven from my own passion and my own needs that I needed to solve.
Heidi: okay, well first of all I just have to say couple of things: one is that, these underwear because I’ve seen them in real life and, and it’s really hard to do them justice in an audio format on… so everybody you have to check out the show notes on to I’ll put a link to all the videos and stuff how this underwear sort of pack up into themselves and how super functional they are and then but going back I had no idea that was the beginning of your journey, these jeans like six/seven years ago and so what I really wanna start then is with that your were not on the fashion industry you had no background and I hear a lot of designers or let me rephrase that I hear a lot of people who are not in the industry say “I don’t have an idea” when they do something and like “where do I even get started” and so can you talk us through a little bit like really my new show, what did you actually do to figure out, you have no knowledge and how to make a product or manufacture and product and so where did you even get started to manufacture denim of all things that’s not an easy task?
Sarah: Right, so having no knowledge or contacts or resources I went to the first thing I can get my hands on which is the internet, google, YouTube, and research, read articles as much as I could, I was obsessed and this is something not for the faint of heart because once an idea grabs a hold of you it is no longer your idea, it is the universes idea that chose you to carry it out, and that’s how I felt, I felt obsessed with having to figure what am I supposed to do? how am I supposed to do this? how am I supposed to get it done? who could help me out? and you start with just baby steps you know every single day find an article, read something, learn something, make some cold calls and that’s how I started on the denim business I actually cold call Stefano Aldighieri which is I believe the creative director at one point for citizens and seven jeans. So he had a studio that he was helping like local artists and up and coming designers and I cold call him and gave him my idea and he said “Hey, I’m gonna point you to a production manager that can help you out you are just getting started but when you, you know in a couple of years if your looking to expand call me back and we’ll talk then” and that was all it took, you know just…
Sarah: Getting someone’s time and you know it’s very scary to put yourself in the position where you might get rejected, you might call someone that may not have the time of day for you, you might not even ever get to them, you email them they don’t respond back but don’t take it personal you know, people are so busy and those who are truly successful many of them have it into their heart and desire to help people make it and achieve their success, their level of success so when they see someone who is earnest and reaching out, you know starting out new that most likely they’ll try to help out, and I think that the more often that you tried, the luckier you’ll get because it’s a numbers game you know so…
Heidi: Mmm… Yeah…
Sarah: I would say, you know so reach out, do cold calls, cold emails and continue to just be driven by your own passion because you are smart and as talented as anyone else out there, and that’s one thing we often forget that we are usually, we get in our own way and it’s not anyone else, it’s us and so that mental barrier is the first thing you have to cross and overcome.
Heidi: I love that on so many levels because, I mean at some point it’s just baby steps and it’s googling, and it’s researching, and digging, and digging, and digging, and reading the articles and figuring a lot of this out and then from there though it’s putting yourself out there and I love that you say you know the people that are out there who have all this great knowledge and advice and who are experts on… I don’t remember if you used that exact words but a lot of them are willing and happy to give you twenty minutes on the phone and can point you to the right direction or connect you with someone, not to compare myself with the guy you chatted with who work for citizens or seven but I just did that with someone the other day who wanted to start a swimwear line and she wasn’t sure where to go and I was introduced to her to her industry contact and was able to give her a ton of advice and so don’t be afraid to outreach those people, you know obviously they can’t take every call like you said but you have to put yourself out their and the numbers game, the more you get out there the more calls you’re gonna get, the more feedback, the more input to help put you on the right direction. … so I love everything you said there, so then sort of scooting forward, you did your denim line, you got some traction with that, and then what changed and made you I mean you found a gap in the market to introduce the underwear but you know talk us through that transition a little bit and then the beginning journey of building the Blooms Privé brand.
Sarah: Yeah, so this is, you know I couldn’t have made this up if I even try because it’s like you can plan all you want and they say life happens while you’re busy making plans because you can have this five year goal, you can have this outlook, you can have this path that your going to just keep you know on, but most often life will send you messages and surprises and you have to just follow, you know follow where it leads you to and for me I knew that it wasn’t necessarily the fashion that my passion was around it was what the product in the fashion embody, it’s the message it’s the you know for me it’s the lotus and the lotus is this beautiful flower that thrives through adversity you know it grows from the mud and it grows up and reaches the light and I likened that to our journey in life and so calling the jeans lotus premium denim then when I left and I pivoted it mainly out of manpower, lack of manpower and also capital because I bootstrapped being my startups and also working corporate, working full time it was really really difficult to get something going especially in the denim world which is fully saturated you know couple of years is gonna imagine now as well, so without the capital, without the team, without the ability to really kind of move this and scale it out in the width that I wanted to, I told myself “okay,well what is plan B for you?” and that answer for me was okay I know that I really wanna help people and I know that while I’m learning through this whole raising capital and getting a business started with the right amount of funding, I wanted to also because I didn’t limit myself into one dream so my overarching dream was to change the world in a better way and to offer that kind of love and community for all people, so I wanted to open a yoga studio. Yoga was something that really appeal to me and I took it to my own personal practice and it really transformed the I thought, the way I behave, the way I worked, you know everything and so I wanted to open a studio and carry that lotus brand in it so I called it limp lotus studio… yoga studio and my tagline from the denim was made to fit, born to inspire and then the tag line for the yoga studio was live your journey and so I carried it through and it was a really, really phenomenal great success, we have a huge community here and japan town, downtown, San Jose, and so you know when I open the studio I decided OK I’m going to jump with both feet and now because I’ve been to sort of you know dipping my toe, my foot, my ankle into the water with the denim, I knew that I was an entrepreneur, I knew that I was born to create things because I couldn’t stop focusing on anything else except just to create and share you know my vision but it wasn’t until I opened the yoga studio that I decided to quit you know my day job and that was a hu~ge risk. That was something that was you know eight years or ten years in the making you know from to have to decide to finally do it, so when I did it I knew that there was no going back. So I left the denim world momentarily, so that I can open a yoga studio and see to that I can start building my brand in this light instead and then eventually when I was able to afford to go back into the you know the denim world, that was my plan so and that’s a funny plan because lo and behold when I was teaching I opened it for two months, I was teaching a yoga class I happened to have experienced or getting my period early, so you know there I was you know in my tadasana pose and asana, I wanted nothing more than to go to the rest room or change so, I waited until the end of class and I didn’t have an extra pair of underwear or anything and that moment I realized I really wish I could just change to brand new underwear and take the old one and put it somewhere discreetly. I had no solution, no way to do that so that night actually that moment I thought of an idea of detachable underwear, and I went to prototyping it went to the store got a couple of you know sample underwear that you know play around with the kite and sew and I sewed up until 4:30 in the morning that very night tried it on the next day, loved it. Makes some more put a pocket in the front so that it could self-pack into the pocket and I would be able to carry a few pair of underwear with me discreetly, conveniently and change it anytime I wanted to with the detachable sides that I made so that I never needed to take off my shoes, my yoga pants or anything that I was wearing. It was as easy as replacing a sanitary pad and discrete and super comfortable. So that was what happened and then I realized… Oh my goodness… I just opened my yoga studio, not you know no more than two months and here I am now involved in another product innovation, product idea. So That’s what I was saying back to like you know life happens while you’re busy making plans while i thought what I was going to develop this… you know… yoga studio and franchise it out and grow it but obviously the universe had other plans for me and when this idea came and it hit me so hard I decided I need to share this with the world. And so I have just been juggling both the studio and with the help of my amazing co-founder and partners on the team I have been able to continue going to studio while focusing on building the Blooms Privé starter.
Heidi: I~ That’s such a fantastic story and I love how you know you have this moment while your teaching and your period comes and then like that night the product was just born, you just you got your hands dirty, you cut and sewed then you just did it and took it and ran with it and… so tell me about you know what happened then because you told me some numbers when I met you at an event we were at a mutual event in Chicago and you, you told me about this insane kickstarter that you launched for the… the Blooms Privé underwear and so talk a little bit about that like why did you decide to do a kickstarter? when did you know you were ready? How did you know that was the right path to go? And I wanna talk through you know how you were able to make that an insane success. I won’t spoil the number I’m gonna let you share that with everybody. But you because it was so impressive but you know why did go to that path? And how did you know you were ready for that path?
Sarah: So I have an amazing adviser who has been supporting me in my ideas and when I told him I wanted to you know develop this new innovative underwear design and that have not seen anything like it in the market. He said “I know where you can launch it. You know do your proof of concept and be able to show investors later on that this idea… you know… that you validated it that there is a minimal viable product out… you know out there that people would want. Do it on kickstarter.” and I said “No, I’ve done kickstarter, I did it for the jeans and I really don’t much about digital marketing and ads and you know I’m not…” again I was not too confident in being able to really do and succeed wildly in it, so I guess I wasn’t too excited when I was given that advice because I just didn’t know if I was able to get the numbers I wanted to get you know from the launch, but~ I went with it anyways because even if you’re scared you know after you give it I guess a couple nights you know to think it over you just buckle up and you tried to enjoy the ride and I have no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew he was right about having a platform like kickstarter to show proof of concept to validate the idea even before you manufacture it and that to me was the one thing that I know kickstarter was really great at. But I also know that it was a very difficult platform or more difficult for you know women based fashion product. You know it’s very high technology and girt towards the male population, you know just when you look at all the products, so I knew that it was an early adopter market as well so it would be hard to have such a high touch tactile product like Blooms Privé on a platform that is mainly more conceptual, more technology oriented or creative like you know in film or photography oriented but I still went with it anyways and that’s what I did, it took me nine months, close to nine months to plan and execute the launch and then we had a two month long live campaign so that was close to about a year to planning and execution.
Heidi: Yeah, Okay so first I want to just ask because everybody out there listening they are gonna say “Where did you get an adviser? Where this magical person that’s giving you great advice is coming from? How do I find one?” so where did you find your adviser how that how the relationship happened?
Sarah: Yeah, my adviser actually was someone that I ask while I was working at my corporate job and before I decided to quit I said “Okay, let me see if I can just get another job” and again I was scared to jump with book feeding to the entrepreneurial startup life, so he was the ceo of another company that I applied to work for and interestingly enough when we met I told him about my background that I was an entrepreneur that I reminded of all my ideas at night … worked on it and he you know in my interview we enjoyed the conversation but he ended up not hiring me. A year later I decided to quit my job anyway to open the yoga studio and thought nothing of it and a year later he finds me on linkedIn you know he connects me on linkedIn and we catch up and he saw that I quit my job and I opened up my yoga studio, we met up for coffee and talked it over and you know he said “The reason why I never hired you was because I knew that you needed to start your own company” and from then on you know the the friendship, the mentorship the he provided have actually lead me to asking him if he would you know become officially and formally my adviser for Blooms Privé.
Heidi: mkay, so pretty organic… yeah okay… so then getting in to the kickstarter, so first of all I’m really glad you know that you are super transparent about the timeline because I think many people think “Oh I can just put up a kickstarter like next week and get all this money” but the reality is there’s a lot of planning and building and prep work that goes into it, not to intimidate anybody but to be really honest and transparent about what does go on and what goes into a successful campaign. So I know we don’t have an insane amount of time, but you know give us what you would consider some of the high level steps of building that campaign, planning that, and then going through the actual two week, excuse me two months campaign. Like what is that actually look like, so like for example if I’m out listening to this and I have this great idea and I feel really you know I’ve maybe made some prototypes and I think you know I could validate this on kickstarter. Like where should I start? What are those nine months going to look like? Like how much can you walk us through that process?
Sarah: Absolutely, so first off you know, the nine months was from the time that you decide to want to do it to time that you execute or you go live and you have to think about your script, your video is really really important. So putting together the vision you know, the creative team behind it, making sure that you have the right product shots making sure that you have the right video put together and editing of it and that and itself is really fun because it’s really storytelling but it’s truly important to tell the right story through your video and I can’t stress it enough that you need to work with someone that you trust that carry out your vision, a videographer that really understands what story you want to tell and the tongue you want to tell it and the setting you know and the delivery of it. And then the other part is, it deals what marketing and advertising, so you know you need to build your list, email so that you can continue to share your your launch announcements and things like that. So get with someone whether it’s outsourced or not, for me I have to outsource it because one of the things that I learn in my own project was if you don’t know what your doing, don’t try to learn it within you know the time-frame you are supposed to focus on just launching your product and for me it was if I didn’t know how to necessarily do online marketing or digital marketing or ads or you know there’s all the nomenclature associated with that, if I didn’t really know what… you know that… that wasn’t my expertise then it was better use of my time and also investment to find a partner that can do that and you know an ads partner, marketing partner or someone that can perceive all of that and that is so critical because you need eyeballs to get to your page, to get to your site, and… and that’s where the conversion magic happens so for me it was really focused on the story telling, you know really understand and simplify it and dumb it down so much a five year old can get it. And then really focus on the right partnership whether it’s in-house or it’s outsourced out with you know, ads and marketing.
Heidi: Okay, so before you go any further, I want to stop you there and I want to unpack a couple things. So one is, did you do any pre-kickstarter validation? Because you know you’re going into this, you’re obviously you’re investing a lot of money and a lot of time over these nine months and at this point you’re like “I don’t really want to, can’t afford for this to flop” and to before you, I know your adviser said we should do a kick starter with this great idea but did you do any pre-validation before launching, before starting planning all the kick starter?
Sarah: I didn’t do any pre-validation before the kick starter but I did do a pre-launch before the launch. So we gave ourselves a month, like three to four weeks before launching running the ads, testing the ads and seeing what messaging worked you know doing A/B testing on many pages and things like that and so we tested more on our messaging than the product validity because invalidating the product idea and need, it was done more organically for me on my studio. A lot of women come here to either teach or take the classes, specifically women because you know that’s my market and those women that did come through the door, I would ask them “I have this idea, I have this product, you know this is something that you would think that you would need you know” and so I did a lot of that before I eventually agreed to launch it on kickstarter. Ah, so I needed to make sure that the women on my community at the very minimum understood the need for the product and would want to wear it and so in my prototyping phase it wasn’t just that day that I figure… The day that I had that idea and then you know another week out I was ready to move forward. It was more like six months, it was me testing it out with my team, and then sewing a couple more samples and giving it out to instructors and to some yoga students and then really myself just you know wearing it in and out day in and day out washing it, making sure that this is something that I would really be comfortable with, and be confident in wearing and also be confident in developing to share with other women. So my own validation phase, prior to kick starter was about six months.
Heidi: Okay, and you did involve a lot of other people on that? So you weren’t just creating it in the vacuum and making sure you liked it. Like you give out samples and the prototypes and got feedback. So I mean I would consider that a pre-validation to the kickstarter.
Sarah: Yeah, Yeah and it was local so I didn’t really send it out to anyone but it was mainly in my own community.
Heidi: Yeah, but you were still getting real feedback form real people, so yeah. That’s because that’s priceless, making sure that they liked it, making sure that it something they would actually buy, that they would actually wear, that they’re comfortable and okay and then next is you know you mentioned like building your email list and so that’s something like that is talked about a lot but I think can feel really intimidating like “Where do I even start? Like how do I get people to sign up for my email list?” so what did you do to build that and get people too signed up?
Sarah: So I did do a session with the marketing consultant and she was pretty phenomenal and I took her advice and building out I think she called it an email marketing automation. And so I pre built a story of maybe six emails and into you know the automation trigger and my email marketing tool called melchon and so we would post ads and get people to sign to see a product and video and then they would signup with email, they will see the product video after they’ve signed up. And then once they’ve sign up you know with their email then it triggers the email automation, the email list to send out to them. So every week one email will be sent out to them, and it’s just the story of you know how Blooms Privé was develop and it would just carry them along through the story. So then we develop a relationship with our subscribers we didn’t you know inundate them with too much you know communication to begin with but every week we gave the one piece of the story and we timed it so that by the time they get their last email, the kickstarter launch was you know within that same week or two weeks. So that they would have information still fresh to my mind. So that was one approach that worked really well and it was very successful.
Heidi: And did you do Facebook ads for that primarily or google ads?
Heidi: Okay, Facebook.
Heidi: Okay. And I love that so much because I’ve heard, I have talked to other brands in this show about the importance of including your audience and your customer in the journey, like they want to hear the behind the scenes stories of how your product was built and made and they want to be part of that and so I loved that you pieced that out you know little bit over six weeks and deliver them that experience to be part of the brand. It’s not you just selling some product, but it’s you really involving them in their in the story so that was really, really smart and phenomenal that worked out. So Facebook ads drove them into the six week email and then you timed that with the launch of the kickstarter. And so did everything kind of explode right when the kickstarter launched, at that time?
Sarah: You know actually we did hit some really high sales numbers on the first week and it was actually more organic than it was from the you know the email list that we, that we collected from our pre-launch period. So lot of friends and family supported us and that’s really important you know to make sure that if you’re proud about, your product and your own launch, really get out there and really share it with you community with your network because most often than not those who really admire your bravery, your courage and you know if you happen to have a really great product they’re going to support it and so we saw that and we were so grateful that most of the sales that came through were first organic and within our own community. It didn’t really spike in term of conversion from just you know complete strangers you know people that really found the ads and you know came in to view the video and the kickstarter page. That didn’t really take off until a month later, in our two month project. And that’s because we actually did not run live ads in the first couple of weeks in the live campaign and that was a huge mistake. So I can only imagine if we actually ran ads you know at the start of the sixty day campaign, how much more we could’ve gotten in terms of you know backers but when we started to run on you know in the second half on the second leg of the campaign then we really starting to getting back the conversions that really blew us out of the water.
Heidi: So now seems like as good as time as ever, will you share the numbers that you guys did? What was your goal? And what you actually did?
Sarah: Yeah, so our goal was pretty modest but I wanted to hit at least eleven thousand and be able to secure and order, our production work in our factory at the end of the campaign we hit eighty-seven thousand.
Heidi: Like, what’s that eight times?
Sarah: About eight times yeah or seven.
Heidi: Oh, congratulations, I’m like I just got the chills it’s so~ exciting congratulations. From eleven thousand to eighty-seven thousand. What did that feel like? Was it so surreal?
Sarah: It was pretty surreal, it was a lot of hard-work and we learn so much from this launch but we just never I think for me that number is you know pretty incredible but for me what I learn through the process is invaluable and that was just the camaraderie, the team that you know we would just come in day in day out waiting here that next notification from kickstarter, we all had it on our phone on the apps on our phone so just doing anything that we could tweak on the page you know getting emails out, sending updates to the backers and continuing to share our stories and getting pressed and everything was you know… everything invaluable as a learning experience and you know the number that we closed that was just sort of a byproduct in the you know, so it was surreal it was really surreal and I would recommend any young designer or established designers to really try this out and really give yourself those you know few months to really develop your story and your brand when you launch on kickstarter and be totally invested in it and you know and people will love to hear that and the story and they love to be a part of it.
Heidi: Yeah, okay I have couple questions about sort of funding all of this, And you don’t have to give any specific numbers if you’re not comfortable but you know you spent nine months well you spent six months planning and sort of making prototypes and running those by your community and you spend about nine months building the campaign and testing and building out video and photography and you invested in hiring experts and obviously not of that is free and so you know I think a lot of people out there listening are like “Where do I get the money to do this” even to start and so how did you fund this?
Sarah: So a part of my journey and my you know as a CEO and founder I realized that my biggest job is not only to create a vision which I love but to fundraise and to raise capital rates money which I don’t necessarily like have all the time. But I have to really get comfortable and and raising the funding that we needed and so as I was building out the vision and the product development and you know making sure that our team must be moving forward with all you know all ends being met and covered. I also had to develop a business plan I had to work with … you know … local banks and … programs such as BSBA, small business administration loans … and get that type financing and funding that we needed in order to pay our team, in order to pay for the ads, in order to continue to operate and take care of expenses ongoing you know because we also run a yoga studio. So all of that requires … well take operational expenses and it requires as to have capital to continue and move forward so a lot of the stuff you know that I’m talking about, other designers wouldn’t have to or other entrepreneurs wouldn’t to necessarily deal with right? So they are not running another business and if you already have a full time job you know and you’re doing something on the side and you know waiting to prove the concept with kick starter or whatever the case is and go with what you can fund so you can’t stop yourself because you don’t have X amount you know, if you… first of all do your homework, figure out what you need so anyone who’s going to give you money is going to ask you “How much do you need and what are you going to use it for?” if you don’t know the answer to that they’re not likely trust giving you that loan or that investment. So find out what you really, really want, figure out how much is going to cost and then go out and check out for the resources and your programs that are available to entrepreneurs to designers … and then start to you know seek for funding there. It can come in the form of credit cards, if you really need it, from savings, from family and friends from loans and it can go up to as much as investors, accredited investors but you don’t have to go there, you don’t have to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions yet. You can start with what you have right now and figure out if it’s enough to get you to the next goal.
Heidi: We don’t need to dig too much more the nitty gritty of funding because at some point yeah like you said you just need to figure out what you need and figure out how to get there and there’s a lot of different paths and journeys to take … So you guys did this crazy insane kick starter and now here we are its early November when did the campaign end?
Sarah: It ended on August 26.
Heidi: Okay, so little over a month ago, about five weeks ago. Little over two months ago. Yeah okay. And so now, on, you had this, I mean eight times your expectations and so how are you keeping up with that. Like how… what’s your production timeline? What’s plan now to sort of fulfill something that was eight times as big as what you are expecting?
Sarah: Yeah so I just got back from a business trip to L.A. and met with my production and factory manager and … I’ll flying out to Columbia, I’m so excited in the next couple of weeks to do a factory tour and to you know get the production going there so … in the past two months you know we’ve been just finalizing all the little details that we needed to secure with our agreement with the factory making sure that we have all the trimmings, all the materials, all the cost you know ironed out and we collected you know the from our backers surveys that … confirmed the styles and size and the types of underwear that they purchase they pre-ordered on kickstarter so we grab all of that took that data gave it to the factory so doing a lot of that in the back-end that’s what I’ve been focusing on and where we’re headed right now is … we’re looking to get production going and in our factory throughout the holiday months coming up and … looking forward to getting the shipment out to our customers to our backers … probably a little bit after the holidays so maybe January.
Heidi: It will be a great post-holiday surprise in their mailbox.
Sarah: It will be, Yeah I’m excited for them to finally receive it and that’s going to be the next cool thing is now to build that engagement and dialogue with them so we have this awesome Facebook group, it’s a private Facebook group for all of our backers, every time a backer backs will send them and email thank them and give them a custom link on to join us on the Facebook group and in that group we share all the behind the scenes … pictures, videos, post things like that without backers and so. They get first dibs on anything happening … so they’re going to definitely see some pictures from me when I do visit … the factory in Columbia and I’ll give them a personal tour video as well.
Heidi: Wow, I love that even more you are continuing this journey on… and keeping them involve in it and making them feel like a really special part of the process … and thanking them in such an awesome way for backing and supporting … has that been a good experience? Like how is that Facebook community been? Has it been just an awesome place to hang out?
Sarah: It has be ‘The’ best reason for putting together a kickstarter campaign because you get to really get to know customers you know the women who purchase … whether it is for themselves or their love ones, even men, men who purchased it for their significant other or maybe their family member. It’s been really awesome … because then you get to see the name and the face behind the name and then ask then why they bought it, what you know, I create polls on the Facebook group and I ask them which feature is you favorite or what color is your favorite so we get to really get to know each other I guess on a very human and … very normal, very casual connection level, it’s not a brand to a customer it’s one person to the other and that’s how I like you know, I like it you know it’s, it’s a very … community type of engagement from me so.
Heidi: Yeah and that also, I mean just from like strategic marketing angle that gives you priceless insights into what they might want from you next. Like you said what features are their favorite maybe what ideas do they have, what was this pair missing that they’d love to see on the next design or a different silhouette or different color and so now are you not creating this awesome community of people and you get to know them and they get to know you which is this amazing personal connection but they can help you develop the next round then the next round which gives them exactly what they want and helps your business to grow and be successful, that’s priceless.
Sarah: Yeah, and that’s what I thought then … you know … putting together a Facebook group like this which was actually suggested by one of my other advisers on the kick starter team to really get on a personal level and on a very casual level with the backers and so far it’s been amazing and we haven’t really done any updates yet on the past couple of weeks but we plan on sending another one within the next couple of days and when we do it’s just been well received all the time so I love our backers and I’m so thankful for them so it’s been nothing but fun for me.
Heidi: This is so cool … Sarah Congratulations, this is just such an amazing journey and story and you’ve done so many cools things to engage with your community and your audience and I think that’s a huge reason why your successful like you can’t look at this venture and do it in a vacuum all by yourself like you got to get out there and involve a bunch of people.
Sarah: Yes Yeah it’s all about people, there’s nothing more important than that you know the products is just an output of the collective so it really is all about the people.
Heidi: Yeah, … okay so to end I’ll ask you the question I ask everybody at the end of the interview. And that is what is one thing that people never ask you about working in fashion that you wish they did?
Sarah: For me it would where does your inspiration come from?
Heidi: And where does your inspiration come from?
Sarah: It comes from a higher source and that’s what I do it for. I do it for that and for me it doesn’t matter if it’s fashion, if it’s a wellness … yoga you know and fitness you know … venture, it doesn’t matter if it’s software computer engineering or bakery you know when you lose yourself into something bigger when you pour your heart and work into something that’s bigger than yourself you know. That’s where inspiration will find you.
Heidi: I love that and you mentioned a couple of times earlier you said this ideas took over you stayed up till 4:30 am just you had to do this and it’s like that takes over control, you become obsess I think you actually used that exact word. That’s what it comes from.
Sarah: Yeah, and that’s a you know and I just happen to be lucky enough to have fashion as my vehicle right? But it can apply to so many other realms of interesting passion.
Heidi: I love that, that’s a great sign to know when you doing the right thing when it just takes over and you can’t stop yourself from doing it, you have to do it. Burn the midnight oil.
Heidi: Okay Sarah where can everybody find you and all that wonderful stuff you’re doing online?
Sarah: Our website are e-commerce site will up and launched soon but you can find us now at bloomsprive.com that’s b-l-o-o-m-s-p-r-i-v-e.com
Heidi: Thanks so much to listening to this episode of Successful Fashion Designer podcast. If you like to learn more about many resources mentioned in this episode visit the show notes at sfdnetwork.com/31 and since you made it this far you must have liked the episode, I’ll remind you that~ you can use this episode as a way to provide value to people who you need to ask a favor of in the industry so think about this, how we talk about relationships and talk about how it’s really important that you need something from somebody it’s also important that you give back it’s a two street out there and so think about if there’s someone out there you are reaching out to maybe you know them maybe you don’t know them. You are asking for advice on how to launch your label or some career advice whatever it may be. Think about pick out an episode that you think they would really love and send that to them and say hey I thought you might like this episode because of these reasons, Be specific and clear put some thought into this and share the episode with them. And then that’s a great lead into asking hey you know what by the way I would like if you could answer this question for me or if I can grab a five or ten minute phone call with you or maybe take you even out for coffee for coffee. Do talk about how this relationship business and have to be really important to provide value. So think about a way you could pick out a podcast episode and share it with someone who you need something from and that way you guys both win. Awesome that would really great if you guys could do that and if you haven’t yet subscribe I always invite you to do that as well, you can do that at sfdnetwork.com/subscribe and I’d really appreciate it thanks again so much for your support and I’ll talk to you guys next week.