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How to get a $100,000 order with retailers like Net-A-Porter with Liv Koennecke from Fashion brand Maison Essentiele

by Female Startup Club
October 19th 2021
00:53:05
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Today on the show we are learning from Olivia (or Liv as I know her!)  Koennecke, Founder of luxury pyjamas brand Maison Essentiele. If you’re in the fashion industry this is such an amazing deep d... More

before we dive into the show today, we have some super exciting news as of this month, female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network, something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup, Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is live Konecki for female startup club. Hey everyone, welcome back, It's doing here, your host and hype girl today on the show, we are learning from live Konecki, founder of luxury pajamas brand mason Essential. If you're in the fashion industry, this is such an amazing deep dive on things you should be considering when it comes to capitol, how to go about getting a retailer like Net a porter or Bloomingdale's and thoughts behind gifting high priced products to influences mason essential creates luxury home essentials for your daily rituals of sleep lounge and self care.

Now, while I've got you here, I'd love to ask anyone that's new around here a big favor. If you're listening in on the apple podcast app and you have a quick moment right now, would you please hop into the main feed of all the female startup club episodes and scroll to the very, very bottom and leave us a cheeky five star review, you might have heard me say this before, but this is truly what helps us find new ears and it is so, so, so important to Indy creators like me. So if you haven't already done so and you're a fan of the podcast, I will be forever grateful to you. And also while I'm at it, leave your other favorite podcasters a review to, it really goes a long way and it's a real mood booster to read the reviews back. But that's all from me. Let's get stuck into this episode. It is a real cracker. This is live for female startup club. Yeah, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery.

Clavijo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit Clavijo dot com slash F. S. C. That's claudio dot com slash F. S. C. Female stock up club precincts live. Hello! Welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here. I'm so excited to be here to. I wanted to give everyone a little bit of context because you know, why not? As all good friendships start. I feel like we like so many other people these days met online because you had supplied one of my favorite girlfriends Bridal outfits for her wedding and then we got to chatting somehow and that then somehow lead to us catching up in 2019 and now here we are having you on the show, which I'm so excited about, love this for us, so good and it's been so great to watch, you know, I'm such a fan of the podcast and watch it grow, you know, and it's just yeah, I'm and I'm so, I guess flattered and grateful to be a guest on it, so thank you for having me uh well thank you so much.

Okay, so for everyone listening, you have the most beautiful silk pajama company that's really been taking off in the last couple of years and you're stocked in all the cool places, which we're definitely going to get into a bit later in the show, especially around how to get stocked in Netta Porta, but how do you usually introduce yourself and what your brand is? What's your elevator pitch? Yeah, sure. So, um I live, I'm the founder of Mason Essential, we create premium sleep and loungewear and around, you know, that kind of whole idea of luxury self care at home. So it's kind of an ever changing thing, isn't it, how you introduce yourself, but at the moment, that's what I say, love it, love a bit of luxury in my life. Let's go back to the very beginning, I want to understand where you're at in your life when you decided to start a business in the fashion space, obviously it's highly competitive. It's highly saturated what got you thinking about pajamas and getting started Yeah, for sure.

Looking back, it's really interesting because I feel like, you know, I've heard a lot of life coaches and things say recently, you know, when you think about what you should be doing as a career, you should look at what you did when you were a child. And when I was a child I was doing lemonade stands, I was door knocking like selling my arts and crafts all my neighbors like trying to make them by like my mama beads and stuff. Um I even pitched like a whole bunch of ideas to my school principal when I was in junior school to like do different events at school. God knows who gave me the like who gave me the appointment of his poor principles time because I was just all over there and I really feel like I've just always been really passionate about that kind of business space. Um fast forwarding into my high school years. You know like any girl, I was quite interesting fashion and that really kind of I guess um started my passion for the real business side as well as the creative side of the fashion industry. I was um you know, my favorite publication growing up to read was the Business of Fashion in high school. You know, I had a tumbler.

Um I was quite an earlier Doctor of social media, like all those types of things, you know that real nineties kid nostalgia. Um and then you know kind of after school, I had a vintage fashion label, I used to sell at our local markets. Um and then moving into my career, you know, kind of tertiary wise, I studied marketing, I got my first job in marketing when I was 19, I was always like a big do it, like, I just wanted to get in there, so I was working full time from 19, I was chosen to be part of the a sauce Student Brand Ambassador Program. So I was one of 21 of the other girls in the group was made a um you know, you've had on the show before, the founder of bread. That's so cool. Yeah, and you know, then I moved to Sydney and worked for a number of different fashion brands, and I worked for a big pr agency and fashion. And then I actually moved in house for Calvin klein and Tommy Hilfiger doing all that kind of pr so, I guess that's kind of my career to date before I started my own business.

And then when I was at pvh, I had moved to Sydney, was living in Sydney and originally from Adelaide, and I went back one weekend to stay with my grandparents and just this particular weekend, I had forgotten to pack my pajamas. So my grandma had laid out this robe and this like, kind of silk nightgown, she has this really beautiful range of vintage silk nightgowns and robes, and, you know we really used to bond over vintage shopping together when I had my own little business and stuff so she had laid this out for me to wear and um I was like kind of not sure on that usually you know more of a track is gal, but you know we'll give it a go and I ended up wearing it and it was just such a beautiful experience, it just felt so nice. I just felt like I was really doing something that was really You know, kind of a very self care moment for myself, like you know doing a mask or having a bath or whatever. It just, it was a really, I just remember it just feeling so nice and the next morning I you know stayed in it until like 11 because I was just like I just love this like I just want, to I want to stay in this um so I came back to Sydney and I was hooked and I was like where can I get myself some nice pajamas and obviously already working for a fashion brand, I knew about what was kind of um you know on on the market for for the brands I was working for um and I spoke to my friends and everyone was kind of like I don't actually really know um you know I went on to you know, your net a porter's and your matches and um all the silk pieces that I was really interested in were you know eight or $900 a set which was not in my budget.

And on the other end of the spectrum was you know your more kind of mid tier fast fashion brands, Everything had gimmicky designs or maybe it was made out of a lot of quality material um and so I guess that was my moment where I was like something's missing and um you know that ah ha moment people talk about that was that was definitely my information essential. Oh my gosh! So it was all on from there, you the door, we're ready to take some action, What did you do? Yeah, I mean I was honestly was hooked, I was, I always knew that I wanted to have my own business eventually and in the fashion space, but I just didn't know what that looks like, you know, I'm not traditionally a designer and I have this you know, great kind of career in the marketing business space. Um but I just I knew that eventually that's what I wanted to be but I just wasn't sure you know how I was going to get there. So when I had this moment, you know, I realized there was a lot of roles I needed to feel that I had no experience with doing. So I think it actually took about almost two years for me from this idea conception to like a soft launch of mason essential.

And during that time I just basically dove in and educated myself on everything from materials to fit design, you know trying to find manufacturers, everything that you would probably need to kind of just get that initial sample range done. I spent that two years just really perfecting that process. So that was kind of I guess how makes an essential was born. And yeah just I started it with three credit cards, very high interest credit cards in my bedroom and um yeah I just haven't really stopped since. Gosh, what kind of capital do you actually need to start a fashion brand? Like for someone who's maybe just entering the space uh and doesn't kind of have all the all the knowledge yet about starting a fashion brand. I know you said you had three credit cards but like what does that actually look like? How much kind of capital did you need to build out your samples to get your first order to get your website up and running like all that kind of stuff?

Yeah for sure. So when I started Mason Essential, I actually envisioned it as more of a direct to consumer company, you know being that kind of brand like you know fan and brand that I am with um you know that whole kind of space. I have seen the success of other big you know scaled direct to consumer businesses in the U. S. And I really wanted to try and I guess emulate that kind of a strategy for mason essential. So um you know being the ripe old age of 24, I went out and just cold pitch to angel investors on linkedin, I would literally just Google or you know not Google search and link to an angel investor and try and find people that have had previous retail experience and just honestly pitch them my idea. So I ended up meeting with a few investors who for whatever reason decided to entertain me and you know, and basically, you know, they were like look we're really impressed by your passion and your vision for the brand, but you know, you haven't run a company before, you don't have any any partners or staff, et cetera, there's still a lot of gaps that need to be filled here and um you know build something first, get some traction and then I would suggest maybe kind of you know, looking for investment post that.

And I guess you know that was really really difficult for me because I didn't have any money to put into the business, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do and I knew that you know it was I was onto something, you know, I think going into mason essential because I'm from the business background, I really started with a commercial mindset and I think that's what's really key in this whole idea of building a fashion brand, you know, of course design and the creativity side is equally as important, but I went into this business knowing that sleep or is one of the fastest growing categories in fashion, that it was a fragmented space with something missing For someone like me as a customer, I couldn't find what I was looking for on the market, which was high quality product within my price range with, you know, kind of stylish options. Um, and I basically, you know, knew that that there was there was that gap in the market. So although I wasn't able to secure that investor, I learned a lot through having to put together that pitch and going in with that commercial mindset, which is honestly really lent um, into things that I've ended up doing.

Um you know, to this day and I'm honestly so grateful that I wasn't able to secure that investment because you know, at the time I think I was asking for something really small, like I was in conversation with somebody about $50,000 or something. Whereas you know now anyone that runs like a company knows that something like $50,000 is just a drop in the ocean. So not only am I so thankful that that didn't come off, but because I had no capital to work with, it has always made me have a really lean operating, you know, way of operating. I've always had to be really savvy with my money and I've had to become really creative with the ways that I have done what I've done and I think that's probably my biggest lesson that I could pass on to other business owners is that you actually to begin with don't need a huge amount of money. Of course it helps. But what are we talking here? Like what's the, what do you need to get started? So for example, you know, things like for me personally, things like doing a logo or doing a website or you know, designing some packaging, et cetera, there are so many great tools that you can use right now that are so much lower cost.

So for example, when I did my logo, I ended up working with a young up and coming graphic designer on instagram that I found that was, you know, a lot more cost efficient than the packages I was receiving from agencies that were tens of thousands of dollars. Um When I designed my packaging, I've worked using, you know, different outsourcing websites. So ones like Fiverr or ones like um up work et cetera to find people who are experts in things like fashion illustration or graphic design who were able to help me put together those technical sketches or design a print for me or something because although I didn't have those skills, you know, these people possess them and sometimes they just do this as a side hustle, trying to earn a little bit of extra money and I was able to just pay by the hour or by the project, you know, a lot smaller amounts rather than hiring a team, hiring an in house designer or paying an agency to do a big branding project for me etcetera.

So totally starting small, keeping it scrappy, keeping it lane, I love that. And I think starting within your means is like something that of course you want to go for all the bells and whistles of course it would be great to have a team. But actually by starting small and being scrappy, you learn so much faster, you learn so much about every aspect of the business and I think it sets you up for greater success in a greater foundation down the track when you are able to start hiring a team and when you are able to start bringing people in to do those things for you, I want to lead into launch and what kind of marketing initiatives you were doing in those early days to kind of get your first, I don't know, a few 100 or 1st 1000 customers say, and kind of building that early base. Yeah, for sure. So going with that same kind of just start attitude from the beginning, I set up social media accounts, that was really key for me. I find that a lot of people think, you know, oh, but if I start something now, like I'm worried it's not gonna, you know, I'm scared of, you know what the products or what, what my images are going to like now versus what I want them to be etcetera.

You know, as a business now, four years in my imagery still isn't where I want it to be my, you know, things are always, you're always going to want more. So for me, I was just really going whole about setting up things like at the time, instagram was was the main platform and I was already building out that aesthetic on the page. So, you know, we had a lot of inspirational photos and you know, kind of just honestly, yeah, just aesthetic images that we grew this this really organic, I guess fan base of people that just really was like those types of images, you know, back when that was really, you know, the main thing instagram was used for, So pre launch, I think we already had about 5000 followers just from people that, you know, we're along for the ride because they liked that kind of aesthetic that we had started to create and that was a really powerful tool because, you know, then even when I started to eventually reach out to influences or retailers or buyers etcetera, um you know, I might not have had fantastic imagery yet of my product, but I did have, you know, they could already understand my aesthetic just from looking at that And a lot of the time they look it up and be like, oh wow, you have such a beautiful instagram, you know, this really fits into leans into our category or our customer.

So being able to build that up just really organically before we even started with product was really key for us, and then we just had a Shopify account um and we still used to fight that was honestly, you know, it hands down, I think the best one for e commerce and you know, I just aren't built everything kind of myself in Shopify and used all of the marketing tools and Shopify. Um and uh yeah, I just went from there and when you kind of got to that point where you were ready to launch, what are the things that you were doing to find your customers and find the people to actually like building on that building on that fan base that you've built on instagram and having everything set up. How are you going about finding your customers and getting those sales, especially in the beginning when it's really hard to convince someone to buy from a brand they don't know about, or they haven't seen before getting people to even come to your website, that kind of thing. What were you doing in those early days? Well, I think you've been similar to you during this, um, honestly, just just seating, seating.

Product to people that were brand genuine brand fans, you know, um I think for us not having any marketing budget, you know, to this day, actually, we've barely spent anything on marketing, we've had, you know, over, you know, I think it's something like 20 million media impressions worldwide, um you know, over 200 million, um you know, kind of instagram impressions um with different influences and that really grassroots approach was key for us. You know, I would see anyone that would be interested um in the brand genuinely interested. You know, I wouldn't I wouldn't gift someone that I knew was really popular and just hope for the best. I mean, starting that dialogue, that engagement, reaching out to them and, you know, seeing if that that was something they were interested in, whether they were an influencer or whether they were a buyer of a brand or a friend of a buyer or a friend of an influencer. Anyone that was kind of, you know, looked like that, it was something that they might be interested in.

It was that real grassroots approach that led to. And I think that's key is that sometimes people think when you gift someone for from on social media, that the key is content, you know, and having them repost Yes, that is one definite great thing about gifting influences or gifting people of influence on social media, but it's also that organic approach that, you know, they might not necessarily post about it, but they might tell their friends about it or they might, you know, next time one of their friends is getting married, they might end up wearing it for their bridal party or, you know, if they, you know, and it just kind of goes from there. I think we just honestly gifted anyone was interested in the brand and just kind of, the rest fell into place. I think that's so important, what you've touched on with influences, because it's so true. Just because someone doesn't post or do kind of what you expect or what you what you want to happen, doesn't mean that it's still not working in the background and someone still not passing on that they had this amazing experience with this brand and you know, highly recommend and check it out exactly something I'm wondering about what is, like, your thoughts are obviously gifting a product that is a higher price point.

It's expensive, right? Like, you have to be able to have the budget to be able to gift that kind of thing. So, for the people who are listening being like, oh my God, I can't give out that product, like, you know, it costs so much. What would you recommend in that case? Like, whether it's, you know, in the beginning, how many pieces were you giving out a month or how did you make it feel okay to be able to give out a high price point product, it's definitely so hard, but I guess the way I always looked at it was that the R. A. Y. To gift them and potentially, you know, either get content and get those relationships, etcetera. Versus if I was to pay someone, pay an influencer to post about something, pay a sales agent to connect me with a buyer, etcetera was going to be so much more expensive. So let's say for example, I might have ended up spending $500 on gifting, but if I had paid an influencer who ended up posting that might have costed me, you know, 2.5 1000 to 5000. So for me it was an easy appeal to swallow being able to let go of that price.

Um I think as well as a new brand, I was working with manufacturers who require minimums and although I have a manufacturer that is quite well, I have a few manufacturers that are quite good with with minimums. Um you know, they're always, is some, and as a new brand you're just simply not going to get through that stock. And I think that's another thing as well as that, people think, you know, all right, I'm going to order 100 pieces of something and we're going to have in 100% sell through 100% sell through doesn't often exist, whether it be just kind of, you know, off sizes or what have you or maybe something is not as um as popular as another style, which you end up restocking, you always have some sort of left over. So you know, in that instance I would use that product as if it was a style that we might have been um you know, have a few random sizes of or I had to you know, meet minimums, it was just easier and more cost efficient for me to take that product and use it for marketing than it was to pay for an agency to do that for me, something we've learned that's key to entrepreneurial growth is a solid crm platform.

Hubspot is the number one crm platform for growing and scaling businesses with the hubspot crm platform. You have a purpose built solution that's tailored to your business and your business alone. We're super curious about all of the new tools and features they've rolled out this year. So here's a few that were really excited about business units allow you to confidently manage contacts, marketing and sales assets and settings across multiple brands, which means clearer insights to empower what's next new admin features like permissions, templates and dr integration makes it easier than ever to add, remove and edit users as needed. And one of the features were most excited to try is sandboxes where all admins have access to a production like account, allowing them to test iterate and experiment with new, go to market strategies before going live, which is a total game changer, learn more about all of hubspot new features and how you can customize your Crm platform at hubspot dot com when you have gifting now and obviously you're a few years in, you established that kind of thing, but if you would have just say 100 because it's an easy number, 100 units, what would you dedicate out of 100 units to gifting?

What's your like split? Maybe 20? 20%, wow, okay, so it's quite high. Cool, amazing, wow. I think it's important, you know, I just I just I just made, I just made that number up but I think it's important usually actually no, I take that back, usually rule of thumb, I say 10% of um you should always spend 10% of your revenue on marketing initiatives. So when I'm talking about that, if I got and of course it always fluctuates depending on what the opportunity is. But if I got an order from let's say net a porter Again, let's just say it's a round number, I'll say 100,000, I would probably try and dedicate $10,000 towards marketing of that um to what that goes specifically towards net a porter's, you know by so I think 10% is my general rule of thumb. Okay, this leads us into its a great segue internet reporter and your retail strategy obviously over the last few years you've kind of secured these amazing brands like Net a porter and Bloomingdale's and I'm sure so many in Australia that uh, it kind of dream places for someone in fashion to get stocked in.

What is your kind of strategy and approach to that and what advice do you have for other founders listening who have that same goal? Yeah, for sure a few things. So about this, so thank you for bringing about. Um, so I think it comes back to again when I was talking about that I went into owning a fashion brand or starting a fashion brand being really commercially minded. So I knew that this was an area where there was a gap in the market and there was a niche and I knew that this is a product that I could feel. So when you go into somewhere like net a porter for example, you can go into say the ready to wear section, you're going to be flooded with over over 1000 if not 2000 different options for every category, whether it's tops, pants, swim. Um, not to say that you couldn't succeed in those areas, but just as an example But you're going to sleep with and there's about 150-300 options at any one time. So I knew for example, that there was already a gap where I could be feeling, I was never trying to go in being like, you know, cell address for the races.

That was also the same price point in the same style and the same design as many other brands on the market because there wasn't that niche that was really going to be able to help capture those buyers because the buyers at the end of the day are trying to provide their customers with, you know, um some variety and you know, fill those gaps and I felt that makes an essential really did. Um so going into it, I was very commercially minded and my advice to others would be to really find out what your niche is if that's for fashion, you know, um that might be you have an idea for swim. Okay, so what about your swim is going to be um you know, really interesting for these buyers to want to take it on. Is it um you know, really sustainable, but also really, really lux is it, you know, more towards plus size. Do you do a number of different ranges of skin tone, you know, nude underwear? Um You know, these are all just ideas I have at the top of my head, but you know, really finding that niche, I find to get their interest is key.

And then also understanding your customer, you know, I always knew that someone like Net a porter was where I wanted to be. And coming back to your idea of my price point. My price point was very strategic in that we provide the highest quality silk and linen garments on the market. Um so when I'm talking about that, you know, the silk is quality six a which is the highest quality Um in a 19 month, which is a is a, you know that really nice, lustrous thickness. It's not sheer when you wear it. And we use, you know, European Lenin's, everything certifying sustainable. Um but it's for a better price than what was on the market already. Now, if I was starting a brand you can think, oh well I'll price it what the other competitors a priced at. Because that seems like, you know, a good ballpark. Whereas I was very, very conscious that I wanted mine to be, you know, slightly more accessible because it's really worked for us in terms of you know, offering that extra thing to the customer. Mm And then in terms of how I actually landed those accounts, you know, I'd already worked in the industry for some time before I started Mason essential.

Starting working in marketing from so young, I was I was 19 and um I started in fashion in Sydney when I was 22. You know, I've spent a lot of years really building up those connections and my database of of friends and professionals in the industry that I could reach out to. So when I was in a position where I started mason Essential and I was looking at wholesale. You know, I would unapologetically talked to anyone that would listen about the brand. and then I feel is a really scary thing for a lot of people to actually put yourself out there and you know, especially when you care so passionately and so deeply about this, that somebody's opinion might not reflect, you know, your passion for the business. I hear that a lot basically, you know, people are like, oh, but I'm scared about talking to people about it, but I would talk to anyone that would listen because you know, you never know where that's gonna lead you. And through my network of connections, I was able to meet with this new agency that was opening up in Australia or that it opened up in Australia in fashion and when I met with them, you know, the only reason I even got that meeting was because of the connections I had built over those years firstly and secondly, being in that niche, they didn't have a sleepwear brand that they were currently representing.

You know, they had many ready to wear brands, they had many brands in jewelry or bags, etcetera, but not one for sleep. And I basically was able to teach it like you guys are also in sales, you're also commercially minded sleep with the fastest growing category. Selfridges increased this floor space by X percent last year and you sold a Selfridges, you know, if you're looking from a sales perspective and you work on commission, don't you want to be part of a category that's, you know, so you know, that's growing so quickly and I think, you know, not only having that mutual friend but also being able to talk in that kind of capacity with them, they once they still want 100% convinced, you know, but they were like okay, this this could potentially have legs and from there they actually took my brand with them to their showings in new york. I was it was only to test it um and you know, I paid for for for my brand to be part of that, which um usually they only take brands, they have under under there their wing, but this was just like a one off test and it went really well and they had some really fantastic responses from buyers and yeah, after that I was able to get picked up by by their them as an agency.

And I was also um which is what has led me to to learn these amazing accounts. Okay. Right. So when you say agency, you kind of mean like they basically take your brand and pick it out to everyone, you're not going to an individual retailer and picking it up. Okay. Right. And so for example, how much did you have to pay them to get them to take your brand to new york to the showing, I can't remember the exact amount, but I want to say it was, So it was all that I was paying for, was there floor space and yet them to them to take on this 11 off thing and I think it might have been about five grand, $5,000 Australian. Um which for me at the time was a lot of money, you know, I was nearly starting out, I just left my job, you know, everything else, but I really felt strongly that this was the right thing to do and yes, you're right. So mason essential works that we are with a sales agency. So what that means for people not in fashion is like you would have a pr agency, we have a wholesale agency and they look after a myriad of Australian and new Zealand brands and pitch them out to their network of buyers and they hold showings seasonally quarterly, all over the world that are paris new york Sydney basically internationally.

And they helped me secure these accounts. Got it. Yeah, so the reason this was really, I guess appealing to me doing it this way is that they have great relationships with these buyers. So you know, fires like media are inundated with pictures all the time from different brands, but having this authority, this trusted authority that is this agency that they know on a personal level was really key to getting their attention. You know, I tried myself to picture a number of times, but I just didn't have those personal relationships. So from that perspective it was really good And the second thing was that it allowed me to be aligned with the other brands they represented. So you might not have known mason essential, but you might have known other brands that that that they had under their wing or the buyer might have come in particularly to see another brand that they represent. And in that process they were able to be like while you're here, let us show you mason essential.

And I feel like that was really, really important because you know, Going in as a no one brand with no connections and being based in Australia, you know, being able to be aligned with these other brands already existed, that they already stopped and that they already knew were trusted. You know, kind of in the fashion space was really, really key and just was kind of able to give it that immediate um, that immediate I guess yet brand authority that we were missing. Yeah, I totally get that. And that makes so much sense. You said something a moment ago also relating to net a porter that I want to dig a little deeper into. You said that they might place an order for say like $100,000, is that typically like ballpark where a retailer like net a porter would be spending on an order and there's a follow up question to it, but just to paint a picture. Yeah, sure. I mean I'm still learning in terms of what a ballpark order is because it changes seasonally, but from what I understand and the way that um, you know the fashion space works is that per year a buyer has a certain amount of budget to spend all postseason.

A buyer has a certain amount of budget to spend and how they split it up between their brands is kind of up to them based on their data. Now when I was before I was in this kind of more before I had my own brand, I thought the buyers were just buying what they like. I thought they were like, oh wow, I love this top, we should stock this topic. Net a porter, you know, But from now what I understand is that it's actually a lot more data driven than that. It's based on previous trends, what's done really well, you know, in terms of sales etcetera and that kind of provides them with the framework of how they buy for the, for the next season. So in terms of the size of the bite, it changes seasonally. But I would say for someone like net a porter yet, it would usually be around anywhere between 50 to 120,000 Australian other larger retailers actually like to start a lot smaller. Um, you know, it might only be a $10,000 or $15,000 Australian order, sorry, us dollar order to test the waters but someone went like NATO porta require a lot of volume.

So um yeah, it's usually around that. So keeping that in mind then as a small business owner, as a small brand, if you have an order coming in from net a porter, you have one coming in from Bloomingdale's, you have one coming in from X Y. Z 10 retailers later. You obviously have to pay your manufacturer upfront That huge amount of money. And your payment terms are probably, I imagine 60-90 days if they're good at paying maybe it's a little bit longer, maybe you've negotiated a little bit less. But my point being how do you fund the business when you're going into this retail like wholesale strategy because it's it's a lot right? Like especially if you are winning a lot of accounts, you need to have working capital. So I'm wanting to understand like how you do that and you know what your insights and learnings are now that you're at that point where this is happening or I assume this is happening to you. Yeah, definitely. So I think going into all of this, I was quite naive.

Um, you know, even when I signed with my agency, you know, they said to me, look if matches, I'm not on matches, but they said if matches put in a $300,000 order, would you be able to fund that? And I just said yes, absolutely. You know in the moment like, you know, you're not going to say no when you're asked these types of questions is it's kind of like a test. Um, and so I've always kind of been a yes person in a door and you know, you kind of make it up along the way, but when I was actually faced with this exact situation, you know, I went into the season saying, and we have decided that we would offer payment terms of 50% upfront, 50% on delivery. Now, that was going to be enough to cover my manufacturing costs and then, um, deliver the product and then they would um, you know, pay the rest on delivery, going into larger retailers, obviously they have their own ways of working and they were like, that's nice, sweetie, but we do it this right.

And so I quickly learned that wasn't going to be sustainable. I most definitely try different retailers require different payment terms and I most definitely try to dictate the payment terms of 50% upfront, 50% on delivery because it does help with my cash flow, but you're correct in saying, you know, some will have, you know, you manufacture and then you take you three months to manufacture, takes you two weeks to ship And then they don't pay you until they get the goods 60 days after. So sometimes you're left out of pocket for up to six months, which is just crazy, especially as a new brand, that is when capital would really come in handy. But for me that wasn't an option and something that I wasn't able to secure and you know, in the moment I was already in amongst getting these incredible dream opportunities. So I just said yes, I just said yes, I can do it.

And then was left with trying to figure out the rest later. Um I've developed a really great relationship with my manufacturer where we have payment terms now and I think that's really key for people trying to um build, build a business or build a fashion brand. Is you immediately when you're looking for for a manufacturer, you want to ask them the questions what your minimum unit quantities because some might say 1000 and for a new brand, that's just not something that you should take part in because you're not going to be able to move 1000 units of stock, you know, per style, per color. And so finding a manufacturer that will allow you to do flexible units as well as payment terms. So I'm now in a position where our payment terms, I pay only 20% up front And that has really helped with cash flow. But these are all things that I feel like you don't learn until you're really in the thick of it, you know, you don't think of these things. So yeah, definitely trying to negotiate those terms with your manufacturer before engaging with them and then finding out, you know, after you've done your sample around, once you already have retailer orders, you go back to the manufacturer, you're like, Okay, great, can we, can we manufacturers?

And they're like, yeah, sure, 100% up front. You're going to be in a, in a real tight spot. So, um, finding that out up front I find is key. Yeah, that's a really great insight and I think that's a really great piece of advice just for anyone, I guess across different industries as well. It's a really great thing to keep in mind when you're choosing a manufacturer, when you're choosing who to produce your products with, where are you now with the brand? What fun exciting things can you shout about? Where are we with the brand? So we're currently designing four seasons a year now. We were doing three um and we are launching into a number of new retailers internationally over the coming months. So, um, we're launching into Simmons in Canada, we're launching into the undone here in Australia. We are launching into shop pop in the U. S. Um and yeah, so I think there's a lot of a lot of international expansion that's continuing to happen for the brand, which is super exciting.

We are also talking about bringing out a few other categories for the business, um, still around the idea of of sleep and um, you know, it's really important for the brand to continue to solidify itself as you know, that premium authority for sleep and lounge. Um but you know, kind of starting to look at accessories or men's or overnight bags etcetera. So watch this space from a design perspective as well. And yeah, I think just those are probably the main things to be honest. So exciting. Gosh, love that for you. How cool! So many great names there are we? So at the end of every episode, I asked a series of six quick questions which I asked to everyone, some of which we might have covered, some of which we might not have, but we go through them all the same. So, question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you doing what you're doing? Mm It's always such an interesting question. I'm always so interested to hear what your guests have to say because it's such a loaded question, you know, to be able to sink succinctly answer in one sentence.

I don't know if I can, but um my wife is definitely to create just a really beautiful and purposeful brand. You know, I wanna create with integrity across design and sustainability and quality for our customers and I want them to have that same self care experience that I had. Um you know, when I put on that silk nightgown, I sometimes related to the same feeling if you're not a pajama wear of when you change your sheets and like there's no better feeling than fresh sheets on the bed, you know, um it's kind of that same experience, but even that feeling, it's the best, gosh, I'm so boring um but it's you know, kind of an extension of that, you know, but I think to go even deeper than that, you know that all sounds well and good, you know, to create a beautiful brand and to, you know, to have your customers enjoy, the experience is number one most definitely, but just the amount of time and passion that has gone into this business, you know when you're working crazy hours, you know when you're not paying yourself much because you're reinvesting the capital um or when you're taking really big risks, you know, you really do have to dig quite deep and I feel like this business has just become such a part of me um you know, I've always wanted my own business in the space of fashion and since I started making essential, it feels like everything was kind of preparing me for this opportunity.

So my wife is that it's literally me and part of me um at the same time as obviously wanting to create a great customer experience and product. I love that. I love that question. Number two is what is the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop? I definitely think, you know, it's not necessarily a marketing moment, but being stopped on Net a porter has given us such global awareness and reach, you know, everyone shots on Net a porter um you know, I've had celebrity stylist reach out, I've had, you know, so many more international direct to consumer sales when they can't find what they need. Um you know, on somewhere like Net a porter um so that I think is key and then secondary to that um you know, just that really grassroots marketing that I was talking about before, just I'm constantly um networking, you know, meeting new people, meeting you founders even in our area is not necessarily related to fashion, you never know where you're both going to end up um whether it be online somewhere like, you know, instagram or Tiktok or linked in um or whether it's joining certain groups, like the female founders start up with the female started club um you know, really just surrounding yourself with those people, I feel like um and getting that, you know, kind of word of mouth out there has been came Mhm, totally, Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter?

What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that other entrepreneurs would benefit from knowing about. Yeah, for sure, I think, you know, and this probably sounds like such a plug, but I honestly listen to your podcast almost weekly, I think No, no, definitely, you know, I do, and I feel that, you know listening to podcasts and just kind of gaining that insight and then when it doesn't really necessarily relate to my industry, I always learn something, you know, whether it's around managing your cash flow or marketing or you know certain certain insights because the reality is if you're running a business and that's your first business, you're going to make mistakes and hearing about other people's trials and tribulations and, and you know, experiences really, really helps in that process. And then again, as I was saying before, you know, finding, finding your crew, finding your, your club and your um, your network of people, you know, has been key, you know, surrounding yourself with those people that are in a similar situation to, because you know, as an entrepreneur, I know people say this a lot, but I think it's really underrated that it can be really lonely if you don't have a business partner.

You know, there are a lot of decisions you have to make or winds where you get these emails and they're incredible opportunities and there's no one there to kind of, you know, um, celebrate with um, so being on things like um, you know, the female startup club hype club or you know, other facebook groups etcetera has or even clubhouse has been really, really great. I love that for me, thank you so much for, for those kind words totally agree, what's true question number four, how do you win the day, what are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and productive? I would love to say that it's wake up every morning and meditate and what not because I am big avid believer in that, but I'd be lying if I said I do that every day, but definitely waking up early, keeping a list, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing off on a to do list. Um, I also keep a calendar on my fridge, which really helps.

I guess visually remind myself of my goals and my deadlines. Um, and also just always making time to move your body. I really like to walk outside. Um, and I love hiking and getting in nature and things, but you know at their minimum if you can't get to a gym class or you know, if you can't really leave the house much that day, just even leaving your front door and going for a little walk, just that clarity is, is key. I feel, I agree. I love getting out of the house, especially first thing in the morning. What Would you spend $1,000 of no strings attached grant money on in the business? Yeah, definitely. Still, I think $1000 is um, $1000 would be always great. It doesn't always go that far. So I think coming back to that idea of seeding and gifting, you know, whether it is influences or whether it is, um, you know, people like if you're trying to get into certain stores, you know, reach out to the bias and see if they would like, um you know, a gift and to receive some of your product because it's the best way to get it into their hands and you know, experiencing your brand and I think, you know, at their minimum it creates really great relationships both on social media and off your organically spreading the word and you get feedback on your product, you know, especially in fashion, sometimes I might people be like, I love this, but I'm a little bit shorter and it was really long on me or something.

So it's really good to be able to get that feedback if that's all you get from it, it's still worthwhile. Yes, that's so true. Absolutely. And last question question number six, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things inevitably don't go to plan? Oh gosh, I'm like laughing. You would hear this question. I feel like my, like my defense mechanism, it's um because I feel that you definitely, one thing if I have learned being a business is that if you're a business owner, some form of failure is inevitable, especially if you're a first time business owner, you're going to make mistakes, sometimes expensive ones. Hopefully not, but I've definitely made a few along the way. So I think the sooner you make peace with the fact that you will fail in some way the better because you know, the thing that's not going to help your business is if you are constantly beating yourself up about this failure, you need to get right back on that horse and you need to learn from that failure.

And I think that's what's key. You know, failure is great. As long as you fail fast, you brush it off and you make sure you learn from it. What are your key learnings from that experience, because ultimately it's going to make you a better business owner. So true, So true. And also you don't have any other choice. You have to keep going. Yeah, it's going to happen if you're gonna have to keep going, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of those super cool insights into your world and the fashion industry and retailers and all the things I have loved chatting with you as always, thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D I. Y course the ads, M. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us.

So please do jump on and subscribe rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Mhm.

How to get a $100,000 order with retailers like Net-A-Porter with Liv Koennecke from Fashion brand Maison Essentiele
How to get a $100,000 order with retailers like Net-A-Porter with Liv Koennecke from Fashion brand Maison Essentiele
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