Off Brand is a column that studies fashion and beauty trends.
RECENTLY On a sunny day, a French bulldog named Hector walks with his owner to a cafe near their home in Los Angeles. As usual, Hector wore a $ 380 French leather “Dorró” collar and a $ 520 “Tascher” strap, both beige. That day she left the $ 680 “Colombo” harness at home, even though it was one of her favorites. Everything is made by Pagerie, a high-end dog accessories company launched by its owner, Mandy Madden Kelley, a lawyer turned fashion influencer into entrepreneur. According to Ms. Madden Kelley, a neighbor who was walking with a cat (this is Los Angeles) stopped and asked where Hector’s accessories came from. “It really looks like Hermès or something,” said her admirer.
For Ms. Madden Kelley – a New Zealander who blogs about motherhood, beauty and, yes, dogs – it was a fulfilling moment. “I felt very proud to say that it was a brand I launched,” he recalls. Pagerie, which it calls “the first ultra-luxury fashion house for pets,” made its debut on e-commerce sites during the pandemic accompanied by an image of models dressed in neutral colors walking in a charming Weimaraner fashion. Its peeled look is in stark contrast to much of the pet fashion world, which leads to cuteness and ornamentation – like the French bulldog I saw on Instagram wearing a T-shirt that says “I’m the lost Kardashian” and clutching a tiny t-shirt. faux fur pink wallet.
Ms. Madden Kelley got the idea for her business when she moved to America in 2014 and started attending fashion week. At events and events, he witnessed stylish ninth-dressed women at Chanel and Dior, but accompanied by dogs in not-so-polished plastic clothes. “I feel like there’s a disconnect between the way they present themselves and the clothes their pets wear,” she said.
Luxurious pet accessories have never existed before. Hermès, Goyard, Louis Vuitton, and Dior all made necklaces and necklaces; some offer more substantial accessories such as dog beds. Goyard straps and collars, in particular, are an ultra ne plus for pet-owner fashionistas in the most status-conscious corners of Paris, New York and Tokyo. But Ms. Madden Kelley is looking for something more considered, which takes into account the shape of the dog like the way her design heroes Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Hans Wegner shape the chairs around the human form.
FIRST WORD from the “unapologetic” press release, meaning: “The Unapologetic Infiniti QX55 starts at $ 46,500 MSRP….” That’s some jazzy grammar right there, Thelonious. Why not be in the mood to apologize? Gravel machine? Crypto-maniac control setup? Price? Marketing means never apologizing.
I suspect Infiniti floated the idea that its new mid-range premium coupe crossover style was controversial, hoping to tap into that love / hate energy from consumer psychology. Ironically, the QX55’s normcore beauty leaves almost no one behind: sassy big grille, 20-inch wheels, slick roof, cute rump. Tesla’s Cybertruck wasn’t.
Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division (of the Paris-based Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance), has had some tough years in the US, largely due to an aging product line that is geared more towards sedans. Meanwhile, the brand’s SUV offering has also been on the fangs for a long time. The QX55 is the first of two new family cars to enter the marquee for the 2022 model year. The other is a three-line SUV (QX60).
The flagship of the Infiniti fleet remains the large and uncontroversial QX80 SUV. Everyone agrees it’s vile.
The QX55 shares most of what makes the crossover of the QX50 family tick – a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with variable compression ratio (VC-Turbo) relationship; continuously variable transmission; and front-biased all-wheel drive, standard on the QX55 – but remodeling the package in a rigid, fastback shape over bigger wheels and tires. The QX55, Management Notes, is a hollaback for the pioneering and underappreciated FX model (2002-2013). I may have observed that the old design of the rear of the cabin looked a lot cooler, but how can that help?
I was fortunate to meet and interview some outstanding business and marketing leaders, but I was successful so curious to meet Francois Kress, former President and CEO of brands like Carolina Herrera and Prada.
Making sure my Zoom background is right on target, I carefully selected my #remotelife outfit that was most fashionable (and yes – she comfortably beat me on both sides) trying to make the best impression on this fashion legend when we met via video to discuss the company innovative technology and wellness, Feelmore Lab. Despite his outstanding career with roles at LVMH, Prada, Bulgari, and other luxury companies, I found him humorous and very humble (“Anyone can have a long and great career if they are mature enough”) despite his success.
“I have been very fortunate to run many well-known brands around the world, but in my mind there is always a certain nostalgia for science. There is no science in most luxury, it is traditional – products are made the same way for a hundred years. It’s usually about expertise and a lot of marketing. “
Feelmore Labs recently launched their flagship product, Small bay—Scientifically proven slim clothing can reduce stress and improve sleep quality, without interrupting your daily routine. This highly anticipated device has received a lot of attention, with features gathered from leading technology publications and also being voted the winner for FORMWell Tech Awards 2020.
I was intrigued by his scientific background and how passionate Francois is about neuroscience, technology and fitness, all of which have made his 2016 startup a reality.
“I grew up in France, in a family consisting mostly of doctors. I studied science and math for many years in high school and finally to PhD level. Finally I was contacted by Bernard Arnault (founder of LVMH). Luxury fashion is generally a family-owned company, so it’s unexpected, but it’s great to be part of a company that acquires a new brand – I’m naturally very interested in the world of fashion – beautiful products and beautiful people. It’s also interesting to understand the psychology of why people spend more on products they don’t need. “
Despite building a name and a career in fashion, Francois has been considering turning to technology and fitness for some time.
“I want something more meaningful. By chance, I was asked to join the board of directors of a biotech company, as an independent advisor, bringing my fancy skills as well as my scientific background to the table – they love the mix! We developed a product that went through FDA approval, and an IPO and finally sold the company in 2015. After that I wanted to use my experience around everything I have learned over 25 years to truly transform technology, health and wellness. industry.”
What’s unique about Cove is its ability to reduce stress and improve sleep, all without interrupting your daily routine – all of which are subjects close to the life of its founder.
“I always have trouble sleeping – not just because of jetlag! I always try to be healthy, I am a productive, competitive, but also anxious person. The health technology industry has traditionally been poor at marketing. Sometimes they love science and technology so much, they forget they sell to humans, so the idea that we could use non-invasive technology to modulate your nervous system and mimic something we call ‘affective touch’ to help in this area really appealed to me. – and that’s very helpful. ”
The company had a clear vision from the start, with a very good foresight for today’s emerging wearables and healthcare technology market. Feelmore Labs was born, and Francois left fashion to help create an entirely new category.
Although Cove was born out of science and research, tackling this new category – belief in product efficacy, as well as user experience is key.
“From the start I employed a very competent group of medical doctors, PhDs and neuroscientists. This field is very new, and mostly invasive – with electrodes implanted in the brain – not very consumer friendly. We look back at our early investor presentations and we are very consistent with what we ended up doing. The idea is to put out a credible, science-backed device and try to redefine the category – and that’s what we’ve been doing so far. We employ the same rigorous methodology, working closely with the FDA to make sure every box is ticked – everything we do has to be validated by science. ”
The pandemic has made health more of a focus at home, with people like Peloton clearly showing that many people are focused on helping themselves. Even though Francois and his team didn’t create Cove due to the recent pandemic, they had to overcome hurdles to launch it during times of global crisis.
“We have a 4 year development plan and of course we have problems with live testing. It is also difficult to build devices completely remotely with international suppliers. Lots of Skype calls, FedEx delivery, and late nights are required. Covid of course raises anxiety, but the need is always there. Since we hit the market a few months ago – it’s been very interesting to see our early adopters. We saw a lot of people. We see a lot of people focus on improving performance. This is of course at a very early stage, but we are seeing people aged 35 and over – slightly taller than the typical gadget buyer. We also see people who are curious about science – which we think is proof that our approach works. The basic proposition to use our device for 20 minutes per day and change your life will certainly require some convincing, but the fact that we can support it helps pay off. “
Cove’s marketing strategy is focused entirely on creating a community around their unique proposition and leveraging a data-driven scientific approach that learns from device users’ personal use to facilitate future growth.
“We could just decide to go to the market with a very purposeful tone about the use case, but we don’t want to do that – we want users to find it out for themselves. Some people like to use it in the morning before work to reduce anxiety. A lot of people use it before bed to aid sleep – that’s my use case. For some people, the word is used at times of known stressors to them – for example, public speaking. Fear that’s worse than death for some! The first step for us is to get enough tools across the country and then around the world to build up critical mass – we have big global ambitions to collect data and better understand possible use cases. We are using a number of feedback mechanisms to build more knowledge in the community and will continue to better share experiences and suggestions once we have enough tools around. “
Being an entrepreneur is clearly in Francois’s DNA – and it’s clear his company is only just getting started.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life – and I’ve worked with so many amazing people – but by far, this is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I really like science. I think the technology available will lead what we do next – things will shrink to a smaller, slicker form factor. We also have other companies that are studying clinical applications of our technology for serious cases of insomnia and anxiety. My focus is results on making better people – it makes me better. I have less stress where I know I’ll snap in the past, and it’s a blessing, on average, to get me into better sleep patterns. To lead a team and help build something positive for the world is great fun for me. ”
It’s exciting to catch a glimpse into the world of major business leaders who have turned and taken on new challenges to foster an emerging category in a critical area such as health, which is driven by their own area of interest. Marketing leaders can definitely apply the lesson here – be authentic and driven by clear, open goals to let your community of customers help shape your future strategy. It is an honor to speak with Francois for Forbes, and I will certainly watch his entrepreneurial journey develop with great interest in the years to come.
It’s 2,489 miles to Los Angeles, one of the world’s fashion mecca and the home of the Brownstone clothing line, an emerging clothing brand with roots in Danville.
Brothers Waverly and Warner Watkins are twins of two supportive parents, Waverly Sr. and Kimberly, who encouraged them to find out what they wanted to do and go after it with all they had.
Waverly was a “sneakerhead” at the age of 14 and had amassed an impressive collection of shoes by the time they graduated from George Washington High School in 2007. The sneakers were a “rabbit hole” for the brothers’ passion for fashion, which grew steadily on the internet. .
As they progressed, so did their research. They scour the websites of national and international clothing lines. Offline, they visit exclusive brand shops and ask employees about various collections, brands, and anything else they want to know about their merchandise. However, the clothes were only part of the experience.
“There are a few shops that make us think ‘Ah, man, that place is so cool,” Waverly said. “If we want to start our own line, we want our customers to feel the exact same way we do.”
By the time the Watkins brothers graduated from Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 2011, they knew they wanted to start their own path. They moved to New York to get their feet wet in the world of fashion and that’s where their brand name comes to them.
THAT Choosing a boutique was never on Christen Edmonds’ radar.
But as a MU student, he started selling headbands to raise money for a mission trip to Africa.
It started out as an on-campus pop-up shop selling headbands her grandmother taught her, and she ended up selling to boutiques in a number of states.
It made him want his own storefront.
Brickwood Boutique started in Cape Girardeau in 2016 after a venue opened in the city center.
“I didn’t make a business plan, but I saw an opportunity to be in a college town and own a clothing boutique because they really didn’t have a place to shop,” said Edmonds.
Three years later, Edmonds opened a second location at 913 E. Broadway in Columbia.
Brickwood Boutique is a “Bohemian” women’s clothing store. This boutique offers clothing that targets students as well as young professionals. They also sell “athleisure” clothes.
Customers are immediately met with booming speakers playing pop music upon entering the store where they will find a variety of dresses, bottoms, tops, shoes and accessories.
Inspirational and confidence-boosting phrases written in black paint accentuate white walls. A paper chandelier hanging from the ceiling adds a warm yellow hue.
The original boutique was for students from Southeast Missouri State University. Much to Edmond’s surprise, he found himself needing to expand and move upward to get more square footage.
“I was one of the first people to market on the Cape in the boutique thing,” says Edmonds. “Cape doesn’t have much, so I thought it was really a chance for me to grow there.”
He’s trying to duplicate the styles of the more expensive, lower priced brands in his shop.
By polling her audience on Instagram and using the insights of her employees, she decides what styles are trending and buys clothes that fit using two systems.
This includes shopping online through individual brand wholesale websites and an aggregate brand website called “Fashion Go,” as well, “go to market,” a week-long event he attends several times a year in Dallas and Atlanta.
Edmonds describes it as a learning experience to see the latest trends that brands are showing.
“[The brands] went to the market and they set up booths and basically took orders from boutiques all over America, “he said. “I went to the booth and placed orders for the current season and next season throughout the year.”
Taylor Miller, a junior in textile apparel management at MU, works at Brickwood. She said she liked to give Edmond her opinion on what’s popular in the fashion industry.
“We’ll send the things we like and what we want to the store,” Miller said. “I think it’s great that we got our input on what’s in here.”
Sydney Calhoun has worked at the Columbia location since July. A senior strategic communications major at MU, he runs the marketing for Brickwood’s Instagram page.
“He’s very proactive about what we want to do,” said Calhoun. “If we’re really interested in something, he’s really great about being like ‘OK, here’s what you can do to improve your experience, help you in the long run.’ “
Running two businesses in different locations is not easy, so Edmonds gives employees a lot of freedom and responsibility. The Columbia store has 10 employees and Cape Girardeau has six.
“Basically this shop is run by all of us, so it’s great that he can keep us so active because it’s just such an amazing experience for after school,” said Calhoun. I really appreciate.
Brickwood has also adopted an innovative strategy to serve its customers. The store offers a subscription program called Club Brickwood where customers get a 25% discount on every item costing $ 7.99 a month with the first month free.
“I’ve read books about subscriptions and how great they are, and if you can incorporate them into your business in any way, give them a try,” said Edmonds.
The Brickwood brand has gained a steady following both in person and on social media. To date, the Instagram page for the Columbia location has over 1,400 followers and the Cape Girardeau location has 9,700 followers.
Hayley Ockerhausen was so captivated by the decorations that he wanted to shop there.
“I liked their storefront and thought the clothes they were wearing looked cute and I thought the name sounded fun,” said Ockerhausen. “It has a great central location.”
Edmonds is now opening a pop-up at St. Edmonds. Louis. As more and more people choose to shop locally and support small businesses, she wants to continue to grow her online presence and bring designer clothing at lower prices when the opportunity arises.
“I believe my brick and mortar will continue to grow, but I also believe online will get bigger and bigger,” he said.