Mary + Marie's handbags, (whilst gorgeous on the outside) are equally known for their signature organisational extras on the inside- waterproof pouches, neoprene drink holders and mesh pockets just to name a few. Truly equal parts beauty and brains.
This week, Flaunter chatted to Mary & Marie's Director Laila Nassar about recovering from school holidays and designing her new Spring collection.
Whats on your desk today?
My desk today is full of leather swatches from Lamb to Pebbled and washed leather. There are loads of colours as I need to finalise my spring injection."
What did your last 24 hours look like?
Well, I really wanted to pop the champers! (The last 3 weeks were spent with an eleven and thirteen year old on school holidays during the pouring rain. It was enough to drive the most sane person to the edge- there ares only so many reruns of dance mums a woman can bear!)
Instead of champers, however, I had loads of emails to catch up on AND a 10 piece range to design before I headed to Guangzhou the next day to start the sampling process.
The day ended around 9:30pm with all the bills being paid.. I woke 4:00am this morning with a clear head ready to finish off the final sketches for Spring. It's 2:00pm right now and I need to eat!
Image: Mary + Marie
The Flaunter guide to giving your story junk-mail-avoidance Super Powers.
Tip 1: Know your media.
Rather than Googling the address of every publication between here and Paris to hit up with a mass email, focus your efforts by researching a handful of writers and publications who are actually interested in writing stories like yours.
Social Media is your friend! About 60% of journalists have a professional Twitter account or Facebook page. When you find a writer or publication, read over their last 20 or so pieces to see if your story fits what they regularly write about. Is it a good fit? Great! You’re ready for Tip 2.
Tip 2: Accept that the traditional media release is dead. (Wait, what?)
Yup. You heard it right. The days of cold-contacting the media with a clunky impersonal document are over. Writers and editors receive anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand emails like this each day, most of which are instantly deleted.
But, because you were clever enough to listen to our advice in Tip One, you’ll have already identified some key people who may actually want to share your story. Seek out their direct email address or Twitter handle and shoot them a message referencing their recent work to show that you’ve done your research and know exactly who you’re pitching to (don’t just make sweeping statements like “I love your writing!”) and offer your assistance for an upcoming story. Example:
I just read your recent story about the [insert topic], it was a really great read.
I’ve got a story along those lines that I think could be a great fit for your regular column/feature/page/work in [publication]. Would it be ok for me to send through a brief paragraph about it?
It probably goes without saying that upon sending this message to the media, you should be primed and ready with a succinct email about your story to shoot back to them within minutes should they request it. Timing is key!
Tip 3: Have an irresistibly clickable email subject
Think of your email subject like a billboard on the side of the highway, you only have a few seconds to make an impact. Create a short hook (no more than 70 characters) about your story to entice your recipient to click.
Tip 4: Make their life VISUAL by using your Flaunter Profile
The future of communications is visual, and including images with your written information will increase views by over 45%. So when you send your story to the media make sure you provide all the relevant images that are available for them to view and download. The best way to do this is by sharing fuss-free html links to your Flaunter profile. Click the “Share Album” button at the right hand side of your Flaunter album page and generate an Unrestricted link. Include the link in your email and the journalist will love the easy, unrestricted access.
Don’t forget you can also link documents to your album for the media to download such as a biography, or concept statement.
Tip 5. Be contactable
Finally, it sounds like simple stuff, but make sure you include your phone number and email address in your message so you can be easily contacted for further information!
Bonus Tip (lucky you!): Is it REALLY newsworthy?
Of course you want to gain all the exposure you can, but contacting the media with everything that happens at your label is the number one way to ensure your next media release gets sent straight to junk mail. Save contacting the media for your very best stories.
In our industry, the two biggest issues faced by agencies are responding to media requests and keeping track of samples. If an editor calls requesting a certain photo, we need to send it almost immediately or it won’t be published,and at our agency alone we have about 15 racks of product floating between magazines and stylists all over Australia. Obviously, something going missing is a pain, but it’s even more of a pain when a piece is found a day too late for a shoot where it had the potential to make the cover of Vogue or Harper’s BAZAAR. The reason we initially signed up for a trial with Flaunter was because we were eager for an easier way to deal with the volume of these two frustrating parts of our day-after about 6 months we’re totally hooked!
We can now upload our campaign imagery from our clients as soon as we receive it, and we can direct all of our media enquiries directly to the Flaunter profile, making it the most efficient system we’ve used so far. We can also track who downloads our images, which is great for us to be able to keep our clients in the loop, but it also means we’re able to contact media directly after they download to try and leverage their interest into some extra publicity.
We’ve used sample tracking systems in the past, but something we could never understand on the platforms we’d used previously was why on earth we had to deal with barcode stickers that fell off and weren’t easily identifiable. Our Flaunter sample tracking is actually image based, which makes so much more sense- you know just by looking whether you’re dealing with the right piece. The Flaunter system actually just feels more intuitive in general, it automatically chases stylists so we don’t have to!
Essentially, Flaunter maximises our brands’ impact and minimises the stress of keeping track of everything ourselves- five stars!
Image credit: Pinterest
Keep your status as a social media saint in tact (and avoid a nasty fall from grace) by checking out our collection of the deadliest social media sins.
A major issue with many businesses on social media (especially the young ones) is their tendency to dart between a whole bunch of different posting styles and strategies. Whilst engagement from your followers is almost instant, your social media strategy should be approached like a marathon, not a sprint. Work out a consistent posting schedule, style, and tone, and allow it to run for several months before changing tack. Failing to do so not only creates a confusing aesthetic on your pages, but also makes it difficult for your followers to feel connected to your brand.
Here’s the scenario: You’ve posted something online that got way more likes than usual. You decide you’re totally about to go viral and the best thing to do is immediately chase your post with a bunch more with similar content, only to see them all fall flat. Worse still, you’re pretty sure you’ve lost a couple of followers too - what gives?
There’s definitely truth in the old cliché about there being too much of a good thing. Just like you sneakily unfollow that Facebook friend who posts poorly Photoshopped motivational quotes fifty times a day, your followers will drop you if they feel like you’re trying to monopolise their news feed, no matter how great your content is. Keep it to a maximum of four or or less Instagram posts spread out over the course of the day and one or two Facebook posts…and never post back-to-back.
We know it’s time consuming, but you’ve really got to tailor your posts to each of your social media platforms so lay off of those share buttons! Even though the content looks similar on each of the big social media networks AND we often have followers watching us from multiple accounts, the reality is that the user is looking for a very different experience from each site. Check out our guide to Tailoring your content for multiple social media networks for a more in depth guide.
Valuing quantity over quality
You can probably download any half-decent Kim K photo from the internet, chuck it on your Instagram with a few hashtags and pull a decent number of likes. If you’re really sneaky you can sign yourself up to a "totally-legit-followers" website and grow the number of people following your social media profiles by anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand overnight. But one of the biggest mistakes businesses make on social media is thinking that one like = one potential sale. Take a look at your list of followers or post likes. How many of them are actually potential customers?
Social media is about people and relationships, it’s not a popularity contest. Work on building solid content and authentic relationships with a small number of quality followers, because this is what will drive sales - not the ever-tempting ‘instant gratification’ posts that spur a few extra likes and nothing more.
No matter how fantastic your brand, nobody is on social media to be sold to. One of the quickest ways to lose followers is to make them feel like their content feed is one giant ad break. To avoid this, remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be informative, engaging and non-sales related. Furthermore, make sure that 20% of posts that are "selling" are useful ones, save them for things like new stock drops or sale launches.
Not checking your analytics
Would you ever re-stock a product in your store that didn’t sell last season? Of course not! Then why post on your social media channels without checking your analytics and insights first? With literally a couple of clicks you can find out the success of your previous posts as well as the times your followers are online to interact with you.
By failing to consider the type of content your fans like to see, you run a serious risk of seeing the growth of your profiles stagnate, or worse still, losing the followers you already have.
Deleting the negative
Nothing makes your stomach drop like discovering that the little red notification on your brand’s Facebook profile is an angsty customer publically calling you out.“I could just delete this and nobody would ever know…” you muse to yourself. Don’t be deceived, they will notice and they’re likely to return with all their friends to spread further righteous fury all over your page (and who knows where else).
It might sound like a cliché, but consider negative comments as an opportunity. We all make mistakes and responding to an angry comment with an apology and sincere offer to rectify their issue can turn a grumpy customer into a dedicated fan.
Image via Pinterest
We've been spending a lot of time lately having some in-depth chats with our Brand, Agency & Media clients about the successes they've had on Flaunter in the past 6 months....and we were so impressed with how so many companies have had Flaunter easily fit in with their current systems and strategies that we've decided to share some of their stories with you. First up, the director of one of our independent brands:
"This time last year, I was completely neglecting the PR aspect of my business. I wasn’t yet at the stage yet where I could afford a full-service PR agency (still not there!) and I had a tiny team - I’m the CEO/designer/maker and also Personal Assistant to myself! So while I was painfully aware that getting media attention was vital to the growth of my brand, I didn’t even have time to write press releases much less figure out who I should be sending them to. In the rare instances when I did manage to scrape something together, I’d send it to half a dozen generic magazine email addresses and never get a reply.
Flaunter was recommended to me by a friend, another independent designer who understood the challenges of trying to do it all. What drew me in was the fact that by simply spending ten minutes each season to upload my latest collection and campaign imagery to my Flaunter profile, it would become visible to their database of thousands of active media users. This simple ten-minute investment instantly made me more effective than anything I’d been doing previously!
I also discovered that by curating a selection of my images and sending links to media, stylists or bloggers I meet, they can download directly from the site without logging in. It’s been a dream being able to run everything through Flaunter instead of fighting with big file-sharing websites or giant attachment-laden emails that never seem to arrive. The site also keeps track of which images are getting the most love (and from whom) which has been unexpectedly helpful when I’m thinking about what I should be designing more of next season.
The Flaunter team has been super helpful in providing me advice about what to share on the site, I even find myself calling on them for questions about other marketing activities (I think that’s an added bonus, though!)
Finally, this might sound strange, but my favourite part of Flaunter is that media are allowed to sign up and download content for free. I think that this unique accessibility is a large part of why I’ve seen the views and downloads of my images grow.
Flaunter offers an easy-to-use platform to get my content into the hands of those who want it most - and it’s so easy that it quickly frees me up to tackle the rest of my to-do list."
How To Organise A Killer Media Showing
How Your Biggest PR Fail Could Take Less Than 30 Minutes
You don't just want to corner a small piece of the market- you want to take on the world! That's why this piece from Jennifer McCloy is going to be so useful to you. Prior to founding her label Jennifer Kate, Jen studied Strategic Corporate Public Relations, Economics and Government Relations, and worked for many years as a Strategic Risk Consultant- Phew! Her career in fashion may seem far removed from her corporate background, but she attributes the success of the label to just that – an ability to marry an understanding and appreciation for consumer demand, with a real respect for the nobility of the craft.
Optimising your business for international sales
I remember the first time an international stockist ever approached us - it was a beautiful boutique in New York (still one of our favourite stockists) and it was our second season. We were still a very young label, and the lure of stocking in New York was something that was difficult to look at logically. The excitement was palpable - and any consideration for “the boring bits” such as payment options, the strength of the dollar or freight seemed a drag.
I have to admit, sadly those “boring bits” have now become what excites me - and the success of the label can absolutely be attributed to just that - an ability to enjoy the back-end of the business and see the opportunities that lie there to grow and sustain your business.
If you are running your own label, or really any small business for that matter, the terms “streamline” and “cash flow” have likely been bandied about a number of times in conversation. Often these types of buzzwords can make designers switch off - the creative side of our brains taking over and encouraging us to leave that stuff to the next guy. But the annoying thing about buzzwords and cliches, is that they become buzzwords and cliches because they are used over and over - and they are used over and over because they are important.
If you are looking to take that step to grow your stockist base outside of Australia, there are several ways to streamline your business in order to free up cash flow - and allow us to do those amazing creative things we want to do.
When pricing your goods for international stockists, it is important to consider all the costs that go into getting that product to their door. Shipping fees and charges (per unit) need to be considered, as well as any agency commissions you might be paying. These costs can be very quick to erode your margins, so it is crucial to consider all costs on a per unit level - how much will it cost to produce, sell and ship each piece?
With the strength of the US Dollar at the moment, it is also important to charge all of your international stockists in their relevant currency (USD, GBP, Euros etc), rather than AUD.
If you are producing offshore, most suppliers will want to be paid in USD - so in order to avoid heavy conversion fees and international wire charges try to hold any income you receive in USD. The best way to do this is either using a Foreign Currency Account which allows international transfers - CommBiz is a fantastic platform, and many of the others are just as competitive - or ideally have your international stockists pay you via PayPal. This way, if your supplier allows payment through PayPal, you can pay them in USD and you don’t need to pay any conversion fees. The transfer fees are also much lower than any of the major banks, depending on the country of the recipient - it can be as low 0.5% in some instances.
If you are producing within Australia, then sending money via PayPal is free, but is is important to keep an eye on the movement of the dollar so that you can convert your balances at the right time.
This can be a make or break for many labels - and it is important to be pushy (but still friendly!) when it comes to negotiating payment terms with suppliers and stockists. There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of bad debt, so you just have to stand strong.
At the end of the day, if a stockist doesn’t pay you on time (or at all) there is no point doing business together. If they want your product and you are able to have an upfront and honest conversation with them, all terms should be clear (and in writing) from the outset.
Of course, the terms will depend on the size of the stockist and the larger ones will have their policies in place - you just need to aware of these and ensure you can manage your cash flow to meet their orders.
Shipping and Returns
Importing/exporting goods will always come with a bevy of fees and charges - and many labels are paying far too much to move their shipments. It can be worth looking into options with a Third Party logistics / warehousing provider to avoid bringing your product into Australia and then shipping it out again. They can also provide you with a landed cost per unit for your shipments - which will help to inform your wholesale pricing.
It is also important to give yourself enough time to meet shipping deadlines, as there will often be delays. Moving shipments urgently will always cost more.
If the idea of acing international sales sounds like sweet music to your ears you'll be glad to hear that Jen consults to businesses of all sizes. If you'd like to get in touch for more details email us at hello (at) flaunter.com