Founder of Banded Together, Dana Burrows, talks about how small brands can leverage their voice against the bigger players.
After celebrating the first birthday of Banded Together, we chatted to its Founder, Dana Burrows, about how the business has evolved and overcoming the challenges of launching online.
Burrows is no stranger to the retail space. She sold a successful lingerie and sleepwear business she founded with a friend in 2015 after 14 years of trade. “I wanted to sell directly and not wholesale anymore and needed a change,” she tells Power Retail.
“In the 14 years that I was wholesaling, the market had changed dramatically and the people making and using the products were increasingly missing out. More value was put into the middle distribution – the promotions, the retailing, the discounting and less and less into the quality of the product,” Burrows adds.
She also noticed that the pace and fabrications that were fast becoming the norm when not great for the environment either. “I love fashion and wanted to do something that was more responsible to the people making it, the end user and the environment,” says Burrows.
The tipping point came when she was trying on a silk outfit at a high-end design label in Italy. She realised that the price-point and level of quality was beyond most people’s budget. “I decided to make it more accessible with a direct to consumer business model,” she says, explaining how the idea for Banded Together was born.
Burrows found her feet in e-commerce. “I love how agile it is and that smaller brands can have a strong voice and not be dictated to by traditional retailers.”
“We focus on making the best quality garment with an end price that is only two to three times the cost rather than eight to 12 times the cost, which is more traditional in fashion retail,” Burrows tells us. “In order to do this, we sell directly and cut out a lot of the middle retail margins.”
Banded Together’s focus is on versatile womenswear made from premium fabrics, priced directly to the end consumer that is ethically made, sustainable and kind to our ecosystem. It’s also washable and low maintenance with a timeless design for a longer lifespan. It’s not about fast-fashion, it’s about good fashion-sense.
What challenges has Burrows had to overcome along the way? “I’m an introvert and online retail relies heavily on social media. I overcame this by working out how I like to be involved and hiring people to help also,” she explains. The company uses both organic and sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram. “Both are really important,” Burrows tells us. “The organic posts help communicate the brand’s core beliefs while the sponsored posts act more as product reminders (the retargeting) and introductory (to colder audiences).”
The brand also utilises influencers who like the product in exchange for a post. The most recent was goodbyecroptop whose instagram post resulted in sales to five continents. “For me it is about sharing the brand with people who hold similar values,” Burrows says.
EDMs are the strongest performer for the business. “I really treat this as a conversation between the brand and its people. It’s not necessarily about selling product. This avenue is used to help people with everything from styling tips to washing tips,” she says.
Banded Together also has a recent pop-up shop in South Melbourne Market which was very successful, so much so that Burrows is currently negotiating a more permanent studio store.
Banded Together relies on a lot of apps to offer a more customised customer service experience and the store is run on Shopify.
Burrows also notes that the site needs to be mobile response, given 70 percent of site visitors are coming via mobile or tablet.
For Australian e-commerce businesses, there are many opportunities and challenges. “The shipping distance makes it expensive to export,” Burrows says, which will be a sentiment echoed by many online retailers. “For fashion, we follow different seasons to the Northern hemisphere, but this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Trans-seasonal product can be sold globally and instead of discounting items at the end of the Australian season you can promote it more to your Northern hemisphere customers,” she adds.
Burrows has also found that the Australian lifestyle is just as much of a selling point as the product itself. “Worldwide, people like the Australian attitude, so having a product that offers a piece of it can be beneficial,” she explains.
While the range has focused on silk and this is where the inspiration for the company came from, Burrows tells us that being in fashion, there is always room to grow and further development in the pipeline. “I have been researching organic pima cottons to extend my range beyond silk,” she says.
What is one thing she knows now that she wishes she had known when setting up the business? “that not all ‘experts’ know what they are doing! You need to listen to your instinct to get the best outcome for your own brand.”
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