Sketching groovy designs and being aware of the latest trends is not enough for building a clothing brand.
A strong commitment to many areas of the business is needed to make it work. Thankfully, we interviewed Maira Jimena Valderrama, Creative Director of Studio Maira, to give you an insight of what you should consider before launching your line.
1. What is needed to create the brand?
MJ: First, you have to create the brand’s universe. Before thinking about the name, you first have to make a mood board of what the brand represents. This is the most important part of the brand, creating the whole universe. Once the universe is defined, the next step would be to think about the customer’s profile and create the logo, the visual identity. Then, once you have that ready, you have three steps that go together: creation, production and sales.
Working on the first collection is extremely important because it is the first image that the client will see of you. It would be great to choose a topic or concept to develop. After that, you have to make your color palette, fabric’s catalogue, sketches and flats. For instance, all the collections do not have to be pink, even though your brand is feminine.
However, for the first collection is it recommendable to make it look the closest to the heart of the brand.
2. After we have that ready it’s time to tell the world about your brand. What do you think is a key point for the brand’s success?
MJ: I think that all the steps are important. From the creation to production and sales. Once the creative part is completed, which goes along with the storytelling of your brand, I think production is crucial because it’s between creation and sales. If it is not well done, there will be huge mistakes due to calendar times, logistics, fittings…
Sometimes the clothes don’t look like you expected and (in this step) we are focusing on the concrete realization of your idea from paper to life. I think that’s very important, to have production managed in the correct way with someone that can guide you through the way, at least in the first collection. Another advice at the moment of launching your brand in social media is to give every channel a visual consistency.
The logo, branding, and packaging must be connected so that the visual message is clear.
3. E-commerce is a hot trend right now, and it’s getting more and more popular in Peru. Do you think a new brand should invest in a website?
MJ: I have many clients that come with the same doubt. Here in Peru its getting more and more common. When we made a market research into this area we found out that some clients are shopping online, however, not all Peruvians want to take the risk of buying clothes due to fitting and sizing. Therefore, if you are beginning you should give more importance to the visual universe and working on the Facebook page that is very important for the local market.
On the other hand, building a strong web page is recommended for reaching the international market. Once you have a stronger budget and more time in the market, like in the second or third collection, you can invest in e-commerce. Facebook is not allowing online sales but displays the products and connects them to an online shop. I would take the risk because I think it’s gonna be part of the future from here to ten years.
4. On the other hand, working with influencers is another trend right now. However, there is not a tool for measuring the impact they have with the increase of the brand’s sales. Therefore, what do you think about sending samples or gifts to influencers?
MJ: That’s something that we as a Studio have wondered too. As you said, there is no a way how to measure the impact. I’d propose a test to see if it’s working. Each influencer has a specific target of the clients that you can reach, and they let you diversify your reach because they have followers from different ages that maybe is not your principal target.
That’s why I think collaborations can be good if you choose the influencer that will represent you in the right way. Moreover, the influencer should match the image you are going to share because the collaboration can improve or decrease your image.
5. Due to a bad consumer experience, some people do not find shopping through Facebook
or Instagram trustworthy. For someone with a new brand, do you think it’s better to get into a store or to open your own store?
MJ: Thats another very important point because you want to increase sales and amplify your distribution channels.
When you are beginning, I’d invest in selling your collection in a concept store. There are not many concept stores in Lima and the market is limited because it’s a new idea. But I’d invest in it at least in your first collections because that lets you reach a higher number of consumers that you will not be able to achieve if you open your own store.
At the same time, you should work hard in the social media channel and when your audience is solid, you could launch your own boutique. But I think it’s important to have multiple channels of distribution at the beginning.
6. What is your top list of concept stores in Lima?
MJ: I really like Morphology, The Hanger. The new store Lima Bonita has a good variety of brands too.
7. For someone that wants to join this world, which services in Studio Maira can help us to success in this journey?
MJ: We have a package that was made due to request of the clients. It is called “Personalized Mentoring” and we have different packages from five to ten hours that you can renew. In this program, we will guide the client through all the steps that I’ve mentioned.From the creative part to production and sales because here in the Studio, the team works in brand development. It’s nice because the client ends up being a new friend that is guided step by step to the success of his/her brand.
Another service that most clients take is the “Branding” in which we create the whole visual universe, from the logo to the packaging, the care instructions on the label and the shopping bag. The advantage is that we specialize in fashion, therefore, we have a wide experience in fashion branding that differences us from studios that are more focused on general design branding.