It’s no secret that launching a product in the international market is tough. But with the right strategy, you can make your dream of selling internationally come true.
Roanne Jacobson, Founder of leading luxury accessories brand, Saben, joins Flaunter General Manager, Mel Cawston for a chat about all things brand, PR, and going global.
Tell us about yourself & your background – what have been some pivotal career moments that have gotten you to this point?
Hi, I’m Roanne, the founder and Creative Director of Saben, a market leading luxury accessories brand based in Auckland. Embedded in the Saben identity is the mission to empower our community through accessible, thoughtful elevated design. I started the business 20 years ago while living in New York, working in bars, saving my tips and living the classic ‘struggling artist’ life. With the little money I did have, I would save to buy myself something extra special. That something was always a bag. I became somewhat of a connoisseur (a bag lady if you will) and as much as I loved them, there was always something amiss. The pieces I found were beautiful but not big enough for daily use. Or they had all the bells and whistles to hold the chaos of my life but they looked ‘all function and no flair’. That’s when the lightbulb moment happened.
I saw the gap in the market, so, combining my artistic vision with my love of luxury accessories, the first Saben bag was made in my parents garage, 20 years ago.
You’re about to take Saben global. What an exciting milestone! Tell us about why you have chosen to expand internationally and how you knew you were ready.
The last two years have been full of uncertainty and full of some very unsettling moments for a business leader. I’m incredibly grateful that Saben has not only weathered the storm but come out stronger than before the global pandemic. This is part thanks to the team by my side who are so dedicated and work so hard. They keep me focussed and reign in my crazy madcap ideas. Saben has been available in Australia for a few years, but this happened rather organically, it was demand rather than us driving it. One of those madcap ideas was to expand into my hometown of Sydney during a pandemic. Crazy? Maybe. The logical next step for the business? Absolutely!
I think we all understand, it really does take a village! Who do you have on your team, in-house or partners, that have helped you get to where you are today? What are their talents?
I mentioned my team in house, they are an extension of me. I’ve always hired my weaknesses so the women I work with bring their areas of expertise to the table – the brand wouldn’t be where it is without them.
Having a PR strategy is pivotal for many brands. How important is PR for Saben? How did you go about pitching this story to international media?
We would be lost without Flaunter! Having been working with closed boarders for 2 years, Flaunter has been instrumental to our Australian PR strategy. Building relationships with media, ambassadors and content creators while we’ve been unable to be on the ground.
What does PR look like for Saben day-to-day? Have there been any campaigns that have been particularly successful, and why?
For the last 6 years, our Mother’s Day campaign has been a highlight of the year for me. It started as an opportunity for us to honour the mums and mother figures in our lives. Since then the campaign has become a beloved part of our year. The families we connect with each year all have unique, inspiring and often heartbreaking and deeply personal stories and it’s an honour to share them with our community. The campaign shows a beautiful side of human nature which doesn’t always get shared in the fashion space. It’s been a privilege to share these stories.
Tell us your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment (so far).
I still get the warm fuzzies when I see people out and about wearing Saben. That feeling never gets old.
What are you most excited about for the future? Will we see Saben in more international markets?
We hope so. Having a Saben boutique in my favourite cities around the globe would be an incredible feeling.