You run a fashion brand you could not be more proud of. In a world where “the clothing industry is the second largest polluter”, your company strives to make a difference. Its business model reflects your commitment to workers and the environment. What’s more: your baby is profitable to boot! You, the CEO of an ethical brand, have shown the world that a business can be ethical and make money.
But your company, your baby, is now growing up. You are ready to scale your fashion brand to the next level. But taking this plunge puts you in a common dilemma for CEOs: will your brand stay ethical? It seems like getting bigger means ditching the ethics that once drove you and your company! What’s a CEO to do?
The principles vs profit dilemma is as old as entrepreneurship itself. One could compare it to the “have it all” struggle of feminism.
Candice Munro, a small business entrepreneur, would say that it’s possible. Yes, you could “have it all”, yes you can grow a company and keep it ethical. Candice Munro knows what she’s talking about: she was after all a mom when she founded Buttercream Clothing,
Thinking to scale an ethically-made fashion brand? Well then, we will take you through the story of a mom turned entrepreneur.
Candice Munro started a sustainable clothing brand called “Buttercream Clothing” as an alternative source of income for herself, which is now also the only source of income for many local workers.
Her idea of building a sustainable slow fashion brand with the help of social ads has reached heights. Let's know-how.
Candice explains the term by saying that slow fashion is a process where goods are made regionally and morally without a bit of wastage. Her company leverages two types of models, one is a presale and the other is ready-to-ship. Candice's approach is to utilize fabric locally without any wastage of the cloth. She thinks this is the only way that is sustainable and also to support many locals.
To all who are interested in building a slow ethical fashion, Candice advises starting with better fabrics that are eco-friendly. Let's know what tips Candice gives for scaling up a business.
Candice was always interested in sewing and creating new things as a teenager. Then, it was just a hobby for her. Later, when she had her first child, she decided to do something by staying home. Since her parents were entrepreneurs, she was inspired by them. Candice started her business, Buttercream Aprons which she sewed at her kitchen table and started to sell on Facebook. As the aprons were getting sold, people started to ask her to sew clothing. At the very beginning, the brand started to make tank tops, dresses, and skirts and that's how Buttercream Clothing became her passion.
When Candice realized that women buy more clothing than aprons she started to change her style and adopted it according to the market needs. While talking about startup businesses, she suggests changing things if the product is not yielding well. She also says not to flog away at one product but to try out things that can be marketed.
"If you're flogging away at this one product and it's not selling, I often recommend taking a hard look at it and be brutal. Look at how you can change this to make it better."- Candice Munro
Candice says that it wasn't that easy for her to shift from aprons to clothing, though it was a struggle for her she overcame things by just doing things, again and again, to make it possible.
Candice believes that if the product is original and unique along with a great customer service facility, it can surpass all the other brands. She encourages new brands and supports them to excel in the market.
Candice uses real models from among her family or friends group to promote Buttercream. The unique quality of the brand is that it makes clothing in sizes from extra small to 3X and in process of expanding towards launching 4X and 5X too. This is the best thing that sets Buttercream apart from other brands. The quality, sizes, and realistic models are an asset for the company.
Candice went to a local, farmer, and crafters markets meeting many people. She got to know things in the market. Slowly people started to try her garments feeling satisfied. This spread by increasing her client base. The market got to know about her styles, sizes and models turning towards her brand.
Buttercream kept growing and the sales also were increasing more and more each year. And now the brand launches new products every two weeks. Candice comes up with new designs each week and sometimes she brings garments back seasonally.
Candice designed a flowchart which she shares with her team. Then they together pick up the product and photoshoot and then load the bulk on the site. Later they put up an ad on Facebook, Instagram, and through newsletters to reach customers. The leftover stock is again flash sold and some of them donate it to charity.
Candice says that it was pretty difficult to handle the covid situation since there were no proper sales and that she should support her team and family. When people started to support the online brands she actively was reaching out to people through online modes. Then her sales doubled overnight, it's interesting that her team has grown during the covid times. The only thing Candice advises the retail stores is to have an online store too to tackle better situations.
Candice has a group of her customers on Facebook called Try-On Group through which she stays connected with her customers. New updates on products are posted on the group to notify people.
Buttercream is also using Instagram to market its brand. The company also writes newsletters and has an app called Smile for rewards, which helps in referring customers and gaining points. The only thing Candice believes in progressing business is maintaining relations and catering to customer needs.
So what are you waiting for when Candice’s experience can help you work with things better. Get ready and scale up your ethical fashion brand too.