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Set Fashion Free: Unveiling an E-Commerce Innovation

Set Fashion Free: Unveiling an E-Commerce Innovation

How many times have you gone into a department store and felt like nothing fits your personal style? Nowadays, the intimate nature of fashion can be felt when you connect with a color or fabric, a designer collection, and the story your outfit tells about you. Of course it may be a wonder where to create such personalized looks, if it cannot be bought on the racks. With more and more e-commerce businesses coming online, it was just a matter of time before some innovator would take on the challenge of personalizing the process of finding the perfect outfit. At ThunderLily.com, this advancement in fashion design has come to life by allowing consumers to build their own looks.

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ThunderLily.com is the first e-commerce marketplace for consumers to create and personalize style like never before. Allowing consumers made to order looks is the unique value of ThunderLily. It is easy to pick from or create a pattern, choose the ideal color and fabric, and in less than a few weeks wear your very own look. There is much more to ThunderLily than just creating a personalized outfit – so OSFashion went behind the scenes to tell their story in this exclusive feature with Clare Tattersall, Creative Director and CEO.

When asked why she started ThunderLily.com, Clare stated, “I have a vision, which is clear; help consumers find looks they love, with proportions they feel comfortable in, while also creating an affordable resource for designers to make samples and muslins.” She tells us her vision behind ThunderLily is to create a free online workspace for designers across the globe, where they can log in and get creative as they like, then take designs to an online mall full of consumers seeking out personal style. From the beginning ThunderLily had the goal to empower individuals, from designers to suppliers, on up to the consumer.

Respecting the hard work and expertise it takes to create wearable fashion, Clare says she is on the ground floor as both a designer and consumer, understanding the investment that comes with each. “Since both sides of fashion are quite costly and time consuming, I was inspired to solve a problem for people much like me,” she said. Starting her career as a designer was arduous, from looking for a studio to house her fabrics, to finding fashion design software that was suitable for her budget. By providing tools for a designer to be as creative as they wish, on their own terms, Clare says here software will make life easier on the budget conscious fashion start-ups.

On the flip side, Clare says “the same tools provided at ThunderLily.com can also benefit the consumer, by allowing exciting fashion and fabrics from the most innovative designers.” A variety of looks are one of a kind handcrafted custom-made fashion. By allowing consumers access to something off the racks, Clare thinks this keeps them feeling chic, stylish and memorable. She tells us that for ThunderLily to remain competitive in the digital space, the fashion must appeal to the consumer, as that increases the value to the designers who create these unique looks.

Some of Clare’s personal favorite designers are right on ThunderLily.com. She tells us her wardrobe accommodates many great designs and styles. Browse a few of her favorite fashion designers or meet Clare at her upcoming event: Set Fashion Free. The conference kicks off January 10th, where ThunderLily will be unveiling free 3-D fashion software to select members of the garment and fashion industry.

Connect with Clare on Facebook to learn more about her free design software and plans to set fashion free. If you are like me, tired of the racks on rack on racks of stuff I won’t wear at the department store, then go to ThunderLily.com and create a personalized look this season.

*Erika is teaching an SEO intensive class on Skillshare, focused on optimizing your Fashion Blog.  Details: SEO In Style

Have questions? Ask Erika on twitter, @elmconsulting

Posted in: Fashion Tech

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Recap: FashInvest Capital Conference 2012

Recap: FashInvest Capital Conference 2012

Bellizio & Igel (B&I) was thrilled to take part in the third annual FashInvest Capital Conference this past Tuesday (December 11, 2012). FashInvest is dedicated to connecting traditional fashion and so-called “fashion-tech” entrepreneurs to VCs, angels, private equity and other strategic partners and vendors. This year’s conference featured an array of brands in different spaces and with varying degrees of experience. Some brands were selected to give two-minute-long “quick pitches” while others gave more detailed pitches, including feedback from a panel of industry experts. We were fortunate enough to be among the feedback panelists. I’ve included the full list of presenting brands here.

While B&I was first approached by FashInvest to be feedback panelists, after some further conversation, we agreed to an expanded role with the conference itself. We introduced several brands that ultimately participated (Brideside, Dormify, D’Marie, Shop My Label and Beautisol) and we connected Designer-of-the-Year award recipient, Diane Gilman (HSN’s “Queen of Jeans”) to FashInvest. We also agreed to be the official “Tweet” partner of the conference, and spent the day tweeting about the business and legal issues raised by the entrepreneurs, panelists and conference attendees. It was a great experience getting to know these fascinating entrepreneurs and their brands.

There’s no way to do this conference justice in the space provided by this blog, but we’ll point out some of the conference highlights (for us, anyway). We highly suggest that you attend next year’s conference in person. It’s a tremendous networking opportunity and a great place to learn more about the fashion investment community.

The quick pitches presented quite a challenge. How can you possibly provide enough information about the market, opportunity, team, competition, challenges, potential for success, use of funds and everything else that typically goes into a pitch in just two minutes? The short answer is you can’t and you don’t have to – you just have to do enough to wet a potential investor’s appetite and a couple of brands really stood out to me as accomplishing that.

Bazaart marries e-commence and art by reinventing digital catalogs on tablets. With Bazzart, anyone can create shoppable collages from their favorite fashion brands visual assets and share them with the world. Bazaart was already part of the DreamIt accelerator and had a great pitch, which effectively and succinctly explained their revenue streams (affiliate commissions and fees from retailer who want to make their catalog accessible on the site) and proprietary features (including patented technology which learns user tastes based on search patterns and recommends relevant products matching the user’s taste).

Brandon Fail of The Shoplift is a marketing genius. He managed to get everyone talking about his presentation BEFORE the conference had even begun. How? At the cocktail reception the night before the conference, he made a friendly wager with FashInvest CEO that he could get through 50 SLIDES in two minutes. The presentation itself was memorable (as is the name) and, yes, he won the bet. The Shoplift is billed as the first mall that the shopper get to build for themselves. “Shoplift” anything that’s available for sale on the web, run your own store, stock your own collection, build your own following, etc. The site is in beta, but we think it will make for a truly fun shopping experience.

The Shirt (by Rochelle Behrens) designs clothes for women who want look stylish at work and at play, without having to change wardrobes to do it. Rochelle has developed a patented dual-button technology which eliminates the gape across a woman’s bust. Rochelle wore one of her shirts, which was a great way to show “proof of concept.”

After the quick pitches, an All-star panel consisting of Lawrence Lenihan (FirstMark Capital), Daniel Schultz (DJF Gotham) and Morty Singer (Marvin Traub Associates) discussed what drives investors to invest. This was an all-star panel to be sure. Lenihan brought up a point that, judging from the retweets, clearly resonated. He said that features and widgets are not enough… you have to fill a need. Build a brand, don’t just sell stuff. Schultz thought that the key to the investment castle was scalability. Singer focused, in part, on the idea that a successful mobile strategy is crucial.

At lunch, keynote speaker Aslaug Magnusdottir, the CEO/Founder of Moda Operandi, was honored. After spending some time learning about the wild success that is Moda Operandi, we got back to the pitches.

We knew Dormify before the conference and we already knew they had a big idea. Dormify is a curated, online content and commerce brand offering home goods and similar products to students and young adults looking to create a unique living space at school and beyond. Think of a curated, more stylish and hipper online version of Bed Bath & Beyond. Dormify did a great job pointing out its great margins and relatively recession-proof market.

Modalyst is a curated, online wholesale accessories marketplace connecting emerging designers and independent boutiques. The key here is “collective buying,” so that boutiques can test new brands without worrying about minimums. Greater exposure means everyone wins. Modalyst did a great job of recognizing a problem and coming up with a simple, innovative solution to that problem.

SeamBLISS gave a great presentation. They, too, recognized a problem in the marketplace. Bespoke is all the rage, but high prices prevent a large swath of the fashion-buying public from participating in this market. At the same time, many talented sewers and designers are having a hard time making ends meet. SeamBLISS is an online marketplace where shoppers can connect and collaborate with these artisans to produce affordable, custom clothing.

Additional panels on Effective Exit Strategies and Winning Business Models followed the presentations, but Diane Gilman, in closing the conference, stole the show. Gilman reiterated the importance of persistence, noting that before she became the #1 fashion vendor on HSN, she had been forced to reinvent herself and her brand many times before she finally found lasting success over the course of the last several years (after more than 40 years in the business). Gilman’s passion and personality were infectious, and a crowd massed stage-side after she spoke to meet her.

 

If you’d like to get involved in the next conference, either as a presenting brand or as a panelist, please get in touch with us and we’ll make the necessary introductions.

Posted in: -OSF & Other Events-, Biz + Dev + Legal, Fashion Tech

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Top 4 Ways That 3D Printing is Already Changing Fashion

Top 4 Ways That 3D Printing is Already Changing Fashion

I’m obsessed with 3D printing. The first time I saw it happening live, I sat there with my mouth agape, finally grasping what the concept meant–I knew immediately that the technique was going to have some really cool applications in the fashion world. While we’re still in the very beginning conceptual stages, there is some cool stuff already happening that you should know about.

Here are some current utilizations of 3D printing in our world:

JEWELRY 

This gorgeous “Black Rose Collier” necklace (left) was designed by Dario Scapitta Design and is available for purchase for $111.18. Jewelry designers have been using 3D printing to make prototypes for designs for years. Recently, however, it’s the final products themselves that are being printed, and the designs are really gorgeous. Rings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, earrings, and even sunglasses and cufflinks are being printed and sold.

REPAIRS & REPLACEMENTS 

An easy thing to do with a 3D printer is to print missing pieces and make repairs on items. Through Thingiverse, a website that hosts thousands of user-generated designs for printing on the awesome MakerBot personal 3D printers, you can print precise sizes of buttons, replacement watch bands, and my personal favorite, replacement high heel tips. (Who doesn’t need those?)

SHOES

Shoes present a special challenge (they have to hold a lot of weight, and shoe shapes and sizes are very diverse), but there are some beautiful prototypes being built.

Biomimicry Shoe“ by Marieka Ratsma and Kostika Spaho (top left)
Invisible Shoe (Naked Version)” by Andreia Chaves (top right)
“Designed to Win” Running Shoes by Luc Fusaro (bottom)

  
CLOTHES

Most 3D printed objects are printed in plastics or metals. Printed clothing will have to use special materials, such as the Nylon 12 that is used in the N12 bikini for sale through Shapeways (a huge resource for 3D printed products). The N12 bikini was developed by Continuum Fashion, a team of two awesome ladies who also designed the “strvct” Shoe at the top of this post (see header image).

“The N12 Bikini“ by Continuum Fashion // “The Lotus Top“ by ThreeForm

 

If you’re interested in learning more about 3D printing and fashion, here are a couple of articles to check out:

Posted in: Fashion Tech, Style, Design & Beauty

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Pocket Shopping: 6 Reasons to Have a Mobile Strategy

Pocket Shopping: 6 Reasons to Have a Mobile Strategy

If you are a fashion business owner, there are few simple questions you can ask yourself to gauge if you need a mobile strategy or not. Start by asking yourself: Can a mobile solution help me achieve any of my business objectives? There are six reasons why having a mobile strategy can help your business.

It can increase your customer reach.

127.6 million mobile users in the U.S. consumed mobile media through their mobile browser or an app in 2011 (comScore 2012). The number clearly highlights the importance of mobile in the consumer’s life. Besides, its importance as a marketing tool is apparently enhanced by bringing in picture that 81% of users prefer mobile sites to apps for price research, 79% for product reviews and 63% for purchasing. This data is evident in highlighting the significance of lead capture pages on mobile sites, or landing pages in mobile marketing.

Specifically, the importance of a mobile presence in the fashion industry can be understood by looking at the latest research on Mobile Shopping by Spotzot, which shows that women’s fashion is ranked first in mobile shopper interest. These all indicate that having mobile presence is a means not only to reach more customers, but also an apt means to market fashion.

It can increase sales.

With a call-to-action page, you can instantly convert browsing to selling. Think of it as a window shopper actually going inside the store and making a purchase. Shopping becomes easy as a click and with a faster checkout.

“Mobile consumers are looking to search, find and transact quickly,” according to Dennis Glavin, manager of the North American mobile search advertising business for Microsoft, Redmond, WA. “From there, the next step is to construct a mobile campaign and landing page strategy that best delivers that immediate action to mobile consumers.” (*Source: Mobile Commerce Outlook 2011)

It can help your customers.

The simplest example of how it be helpful a mobile presence can be the ease of carrying around coupons which saves the consumer the hassle of printing an online coupon and presenting to the cashier in-store.  Similarly, your mobile call-to-action page might be help customer by having quick check-out by or by finding an area of interest nearby.

It can increase brand engagement.

Increasing customer engagement is the top reason companies and brands are using mobile marketing today (Forrester, July 2010 via Snaphop). “Every advertiser wants you to show them you want to engage with them in some way, whether that’s watching a video or filling out a form,” says Wong, the CEO of mobile rewards platform Kiip. (*Source: Fast Company)

Certainly mobile marketing can increase brand engagement by a range of touch points. These touch points can be sales, coupons, like I mentioned above; or they can be retail environments or web stores where brand makes contact with the individual, as seen in this image (click for larger image):

It can drive traffic to your store.

“While the selling of digital goods via mobile devices represents a huge opportunity, mobile campaigns should also be leveraged for influencing offline purchase through the sign-up of consumers to sales and offers or calls to action that allow store location look-ups or the ability to phone your local store,” says Anne Frisbie, vice president and managing director of North America at mobile ad network InMobi, San Mateo, CA.

“It’s important to note that mobile continues to be more effective in driving in-store purchasing than mcommerce,” said Scott Dunlap, vice president of mobile at JiWire, San Francisco.

These statements establish the importance of mobile in driving traffic to the physical retail locations. Some creative landing pages that include a store locator or a map with directions to your store can help you achieve this.

It can strengthen my existing product.

The mobile strategy can strengthen your existing product in simple ways, such as include making purchasing easier simply by including a short amount of price information, or just a helpline number.

“Retailers are leveraging mobile to make the shopping experience much more transparent,” says Tom Nawara, vice president of digital strategy and design for Acquity Group, Chicago. (Source: Mobile Marketer)

 

How can Mobinable help?

Mobinable helps achieve you these business objectives by providing focused, call-to-action landing pages. Not only does these landing pages extend the dialog between your brand and the consumers, they can also capture the customer moment as it occurs, on an anywhere anytime basis. Businesses can chose focused goal oriented pages, ready to engage the users. To learn more about how Mobinable can help, click here.

Learn More at Mobinable’s blog here.

Original image created by Yutaka Tsutano.

Posted in: Digital Marketing, Fashion Tech

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5 Important Analytics Tools for Fashion Bloggers

5 Important Analytics Tools for Fashion Bloggers

*Erika is teaching an SEO intensive class on Skillshare, focused on optimizing your Fashion Blog.  Details: SEO In Style


Proper analytics to track your website performance should be on the top of your to-do list when launching a new website, microsite or social media project. There are many useful analytics tracking tools, but in this post I will provide you with 5 essentials, no matter what your digital marketing goals. Keep in mind that as your site grows, advertising and media partners will want to know about your site traffic in media kits, as well as demographic penetration. It is integral for fashion blogs and commerce sites to make analytics a top priority!

Tracking tools are available to monitor keyword traffic to the pages of your site, as well as track incoming traffic via referral URLs, such as visits from social sites like Facebook and Twitter. The analytics tools used on many fashion sites range from free tools to paid enterprise level tools. Of course there are benefits to both types of analytics tracking tools, but here is an overview of free and paid solutions:

  1. YouTube offers viewer analytics for videos published on YouTube. The demographics are beneficial to help tailor marketing efforts related to video content. Use of YouTube should include these elements: 1) Headlines: These show up in search results, so make sure they are topical and relevant to the season (since fashion & beauty is seasonal). 2) Tags: These are items a blogger should always limit, on YouTube and on the blog. Always focus tags on topics you will write about over and over. Avoid being generic. 3) Link in Description: When writing a video description, be sure to add a link back to a target URL of the website.
  2. Quantcast offers its own free analytics for sites that add its tracking code. This is so useful for site owners to build personas and learn about audience demographics. This is a free analytics-tracking tool, and allows you to get details about users.
  3. Google Analytics offers free tools for small and large business, which give site owners the chance to track organic search keywords, as well as paid traffic. This tool is excellent for drilling down into segments of data, but all of your site information will become Google’s. The importance of these tools is really up to the site owner, but I personally find them very useful. Also look at installing Google Web Master Tools, and contact me for 101 training.
  4. Adobe Omniture offers enterprise level customized analytics for larger businesses with multi-level channels. This tool provides custom integration for multi & cross channel integration, specifically e-commerce and major publishing portals.
  5. Topsy offers free social media tools for monitoring Twitter mentions The emails sent provide a look into content and links going viral around the topic you set out to track. The top 3 items fashion bloggers should track using Topsy are: 1) brand name: target the blog domain or brand. 2) target keyword: focus on a keyword or topic you want the blog to show up for in Google search results (i.e. “fall leggings”) 3) main blog interest or theme: set an alert for topics related to your blog theme, so you can reach out to these Twitter followers mentioning such interest.

Understanding your audience using analytics helps you get a look at visitor usage factors, which are important to help determine content, referral partners, and advertiser sponsorship rates. Here are a few visitor usage factors to monitor, no matter what tools you choose to install:

  1. Bounce Rate (monthly average)
  2. Pageviews (per article)
  3. Unique visitors (1.5 per visit)
  4. Total search keywords (monthly)
  5. Referral traffic (sites sending traffic)

Using analytics helps you understand your audience by providing deeper insights into informative data points, but also should guide your overall online marketing strategy. Analytics can be used to forecast seasonal topics that should be covered year over year. Before I sign off, here is an analytics tip that should help your site get some visibility during or before the holidays; for smaller sites, seasonal topics should be covered extremely early, so your site can penetrate the search results before the bigger brands start developing content and out rank your content.

For more tips and analytics tools follow me on Twitter @elmconsulting.

Posted in: Digital Marketing, Fashion Tech

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6 Important Apps for Your Business

6 Important Apps for Your Business

Technology makes life simpler, or at least attempts. Fashion makes life colorful.  If you marry them, a simple and fun life springs up. In my first post, I would like to share 5 great tools (yes, of course they are free) which I believe are best in class and must be used by everyone trying to leverage technology.

Evernote
Organize your thoughts, pictures, ideas, blog, and mail drafts. This app makes it easy to better organize the extensive content you shuffle through everyday.  This should be the first app to download and start using. Technology cannot get any better and simpler than Evernote. It comes in all flavors: web, desktop, and for smart phones.

Tip: Even if you have no problem spending the $5 per month on the premium account, I feel the free version is good enough to begin with and will cater to most of your needs.

Dropbox
Makes storing and sharing content online extremely simple.  For all you space hungry people, start with free 5 GB’s and upload your pictures, portfolios, and videos for free. They offer a great referral program, where you can get several more GB’s of space, if you have folks in your network sign up. Go, nuts!

Mailchimp
I love these guys. Mailchimp is one of those companies that you have no idea why you like them, but you gravitate towards them. It must be the marketing, or the amazing customer service, or possibly the ease of use.  Regardless, it is probably the best place to store your contacts and interact with them via email.  If you run a blog or a website, make good use of the  Newsletter widget on your site.  E-mails can easily be organized into lists that are ready for distributing content!

Hootsuite
I use Tweetdeck but that is not enough if you are serious about Social Media.  Hootesuite is a great way to operate multiple social media accounts, between multiple platforms.  Hootsuite is better suited for those folks that take Social Media seriously. Scheduling, multiple network updates, URL shortening, picture upload, all comes in-built, plus much more!

Asana
I have been using this for my team at Mobinable.  It’s a super smart, and super cool service.  Started by the ex-founders of Facebook, this app simplifies your to-do list.  This app allows you to organize tasks under various categories (or projects as they call them).  There is also a great smart phone app available which will allow you to manage the list while you are on the go.  I don’t know what it is, but there is something about crossing off tasks from a list that brings me unmatched satisfaction.

Join.me
A great free screen sharing tool, which allows you to securely share your screen with any number of folks around the world.  If you cannot do a presentation in person, no problem, just share a web link and the viewer DOES NOT have to download any software. They open the link in any browser, and it works. This is the best screen sharing solution currently available.

I hope you guys will take me up on some of these suggestions.  Feel free to contact me for any specific tool you are looking for or need a feedback/opinion.

Posted in: Fashion Tech

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