Amevie – trendy sun care company

Amevie sure sounds like a pretty name, but it packs a lot more meaning than just sounding nice! Amevie comes about from the latin word “amehvi”, meaning “Love Life”. Simply loving life? Sign us up! Amevie serves as a triple whammy in internet resources, as a super fun informative blog offering health tips regarding the sun and UV rays, without getting too medical on us, offering lots of fun inspiration and juicy tips about fashion, and safe fun in the sun. Not only is Amevie a pretty rich source of helpful info, but will very soon also serve as a platform for the company’s own brand of health-conscious sunglasses and sunscreens, which successfully balance health, beauty, and fashion, without sacrificing any of those three essentials.

Amevie is a super handy site to keep saved in your browser bookmarks; their articles are jam-packed with answers to those head-scratching questions about our health and how the sun’s rays work, while being extra accessible, intuitive and comprehensive. Reading the full details about these subjects from the more biology-heavy medical sources is a total bore, feels like school, and sometimes leaves us more confused than before. Browsing through some of their article titles, I noticed the added bonus of tips for travel too. These posts are full of little tricks and hacks to make traveling and keeping your skin, eyes etc. safe during your time abroad. So useful, right?!

Amevie doesn’t pull punches when it comes to busting industry myths about sunscreens and sunglasses, products that are supposed to protect us, but often don’t, despite having pretty demanding price tags. After all, who doesn’t want the knowledge toolkit to know which sunscreen, on a shelf stocked with tons of different brands that are all trying hard to sell, works best and isn’t feeding our skin cells unfriendly chemicals. If you don’t believe us, or are just feeling curious, see for yourself, and if you like what you see, share with your friends and family!


This article was written by Maurice Hriech, a Creative Industries graduate (almost) at Ryerson University with a love for city-living, summer, and organic skin care that keeps his health at the forefront. Hobbies include indoor gardening, film photography, and of course, shopping.

LaFemme TheBerge Crowdfunding for the Fashion Art Toronto Show

Tanya TheBerge is one of those fashion designers with an inspiring story, a fantastic background and a great product. A well known bikini designer for fitness competitions, we are thrilled to see her début collection at fashion Art Toronto (F.A.T.) this spring. But we will let you read her story from her own words, and don’t forget you can support her Indiegogo campaign with as little as $25.

Luevo: What is your favorite part about being a designer?

Tanya: My favourite thing about being a designer is that it encompasses so many different art forms in one. From illustrations, sculpture, tailoring, embroidery, textile design, conceptual collections and countless other forms of multi-media. The limits really are endless.

Luevo: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?

Tanya: Everyday comes with its challenges when you are a mother of two, entrepreneur and emerging designer but I believe it’s more important to focus on the positive. Although, some challenges I’ve had are seeking credibility without the possession of a degree from a prestigious fashion school, having to take care of and support a family of four while creating my collection with limited/no funding available to emerging designers in Ontario/Canada. I’m trying to overcome the challenges associated with an industry that is designed for the privileged to succeed.

Luevo: What advice do you have for young designers?

Tanya: My advice for young designers is to see the silver lining in every situation because it is from the bad experiences that we often times learn the most. Complete tasks fully, stay focused and be self analytical so that you are able to produce work that is authentic to who you are. Expect to have to work hard and then work even harder.

Luevo: Why crowdfunding?

Tanya: I decided to do crowdfunding because there is no financial assistance for fashion designers in Ontario. The costs of producing a collection, brand, label and campaign can be astronomical. I also liked Indiegogo’s feature of giving back to contributors. As a proud person, asking people for money is not something I’ve ever felt comfortable with but being able to give a piece of the collection and gathering my supporters together has been a great experience.

Luevo: What are you top tips for a designer going the crowdfunding path?

Tanya: My three top tips for designers looking to do a crowdfunding campaign. 1) Hire a consultant!! I worked with Ana from Luevo, and without her guidance, support and knowledge we would not have been able to launch a campaign that we can be proud of. She kept us on track and was an abundant source of information and knowledge. 2) The majority of the work is done before the launch so focus on making real connections with people who can make a difference 3) get used to everyone tell you “You should do this… You should do that…” and do the best you can.

Luevo: Let’s talk about your brand. Who is LaFemme Theberge?

Tanya: LaFemme Theberge is an artist who exists with a rebellious heart. La Femme Theberge is about taking the adventurous route, the route less travelled in order to discover new ways of being and thinking. La Femme Theberge is a rule breaker and innovator.

Luevo: Finally, where do you see the brand in the future?

Tanya: I see the brand growing to be recognized for producing unique and artistic red carpet pieces and being curated for art exhibitions worldwide.

Make sure you follow Tanya’s journey on Twitter and Instagram. You can connect with Tanya via her website, and you can always show your support by sharing her crowdfunding campaign with your friends.

VEENA – A Canadian fashion brand with a mission

Meet Jena Murray – a former intern at the Canadian Space Agency, an Alberta Sports Hall of Fame honoured athlete and fashion designer. Yes, it seems like she’s done it all, but now Jena’s focus is to empower girls to gain self-esteem through the exploration of art.  But let’s see what Jena had to say about her latest endavour (VEENA), as we had the pleasure to sit down and interview her.

“I am very proud to own VEENA because it embodies many of my own personal beliefs and it represents who I am as a person.  It took several rounds of brainstorming, idea generation and self exploration to reach this point.  I feel fulfilled knowing that I am trying to make a positive impact on the world through business.”- Jena Murray

 

Luevo: What is your favourite thing about being a designer? What path would you have followed, had you not become a designer?

JM: My favorite part about being a designer is having the freedom to create.  Designing allows me to explore the world around me and combine it with my imagination to create products that are innovative, thoughts provoking and so much more than they appear to be on the surface.

Luevo: What obstacles have you had to face and overcome to get where you are today?

JM: It has taken a lot of determination and perseverance to get where I am today.  I have never been one to settle and I am an extreme over achiever.  Some of the decisions I have made and experiences I have overcome include leaving a full time position as a 3D artist to go back to school for Fashion Design & Marketing, making a drastic switch from the sciences to fine art during University, completing an internship at the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal, moving to New York and completing an internship with Anna Sui, and deciding to pass up opportunities in the fashion industry to chase my entrepreneurial dream.

 

Luevo: Tell us more about VEENA WARRIORS, what is it?

 JM: VEENA WARRIORS is a program for girls that I have started in tandem with the VEENA clothing line to help girls build self esteem, strength and courage.  During VEENA WARRIORS sessions girls take part in creative and artistic activities that help them reflect, communicate and share their thoughts with others.  A staggering number of girls suffer from low self esteem and it is my goal to help girls feel better about themselves using art.  As I begin to develop sessions for next year, I want to focus on four key areas; body image, media pressure, fears and anxiety.  We will address each of these issues individually and conduct workshops that help girls learn about themselves, their environment, and peers.

When girls create artwork by participating in VEENA WARRIORS, I will be using their artwork as direct inspiration for the upcoming season of VEENA clothing.  I will also be naming specific styles after girls participating in VEENA WARRIORS.  I want girls to feel empowered when they wear VEENA clothing and I want it to represent who they are.

Luevo: Why did you decide to build this program?

JM: I decided to create the VEENA WARRIORS program because it brings my ideas full circle and fulfills my personal goal of helping girls love themselves.  I want to have a company that represents something more and affects individual lives on a personal level.  I also want to build a personal relationship with girls that will be wearing my product.  I want the items we create through VEENA to hold a strong meaning and I want them to tell a story far beyond the style, cut and stitching.

Luevo: Are you targeting a particular group of young girls, or anyone can join your VEENA WARRIORS program?

 JM: VEENA WARRIORS is open to all girls under 16 years of age, regardless of ethnicity, background or economic status.

 Luevo: Tell us about the factory you are using for VEENA clothing

 JM: VEENA works with a factory that was established in 1994 in Southern India, Assisi Garments.  The factory was set up by Franciscan nuns and provides training and employment for deaf, mute and economically disadvantaged women.   Their workspace expands over 50,000 square feet and their product comes with FLO certification, meaning it is both Fair Trade and follows Global Organic Textile Standards.  Assisi was one of the first factories in India to work with organic cotton, free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They offer a safe working environment, employees are paid fair wages, and they both support and contribute to an old age home, cancer hospital and orphanage in South India.

Luevo: What does sustainability mean to you?

 JM: Sustainability means that you are conscious of your ecological footprint and the effects your actions have on the world.

I am passionate about being a social enterprise because it is important to have some kind of greater purpose and responsibility as a business owner.  I place a high value on being fair trade and organic certified because traditional manufacturing and business practices in the fashion industry are extremely harmful. Personally, I wouldn’t feel good about selling a product that negatively affects our planet or people.

 

Luevo: We know you are crowdfunding, why did you decide to take this route and why did you choose Indiegogo?

JM: I chose to do a crowdfunding campaign to build a customer base for VEENA, generate brand awareness and raise funds to expand the VEENA WARRIORS program. I chose Indiegogo because they offer flexible funding options, support Canadians and have a stronger artistic and creative following.

Luevo: Finally, what do you see in store for VEENA for the near future?

JM: I plan to grow VEENA as an online e-commerce company and to expand the VEENA WARRIORS program.  I would like to prepare a series of VEENA WARRIROS sessions for next year that focus on helping girls in 4 key areas; media pressure, body image, fears and anxiety.  I also plan to re-visit India and volunteer in schools helping girls learn a creative skill and English.  While in India, I will be visiting Assisi Factory and working on the development of Spring 2016.

If you’d like to learn how to support Jena, check out her website, Facebook and Twitter. Her crowdfunding campaign for VEENA goes live on July 16th on Indiegogo.

How to win a business competition

Our team is just settling into a brand new office in Liberty Village, Toronto. How did we get here?

A week ago we spent our last day at Digital Media Zone and on Saturday we were participating at a demo competition at Regus offices in Liberty Village. We won the first prize ( 6 months free office), so by Monday we were moving in. Demos and pitch competitions are great not just for the prizes but also for meeting potential customers or investors and for spreading the word about your product or service.  Depending on the event’s reach you can also use this as a PR opportunity.

We’ve participated in many business competitions with Luevo, even when we were still building the company and didn’t have a platform yet. In most competitions we were either finalists, or we won something.  While these take a lot of preparation and practice, I am going to give you a couple of tips to help you get the attention you want and increase your success chances when demo-ing your product:

#1 Be memorable

Wear something out of the ordinary, bright coloured t-shirts with your company logos, or some fun outfits. Too many people have the same look at these events, so dress to impress and to remain memorable.

 

#2 Free swag

Especially if you have a demo booth or a table, swag is a very easy way to get talking with the audience. At our last demo day at Regus we gave away Mars bars. The goal was to get the most votes in order to win, the chocolates were an easy conversation starter and many guests appreciated the gesture. Another great idea is to give away water bottles with your logo and company info printed on the label.

 

#3 Contest

Another way of engaging your audience is to run a draw or a contest. We were giving away a T-Shirt created by one of our designers. Not only that we got people to our booth but we also  grew our mailing list.

 

Finally, it is about your pitch, your attitude and the atmosphere you create with your product demo. We had a beautiful and colorful banner that had an inspirational message ( “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”), we played our promo video on a loop so the music would draw more attention and we had tons of fliers and business cards. We were fun, engaging and talking to everyone there, and so we won! In a future post we’ll dive deeper into tips and tricks on how to create the perfect pitch for emerging fashion designers!

 

 

 

Why your website should be mobile friendly

Is your website mobile friendly? If not, you are missing out on opportunities and here is why.

Did you know that more than 50% of shoppers are now browsing from a mobile device versus from a PC? Also, the rates are increasing in favour of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, even when it comes to making purchases. What this means is that brands and retailers are missing out on a great opportunity if their websites are not designed to be mobile friendly, or in other words: your website should have a responsive design.

mobilegeddon

Now more than ever, having a responsive website is critical to the health of your online presence. On April 21st, 2015 Google released its latest algorithm that will reward those sites that are mobile optimized, and on the other hand “punish” those that are not. The algorithm nicknamed “mobilegeddon” will affect million of websites, and most of those will be small businesses.

How does the “mobilegeddon” work?

According to The Next Web, the algorithm scans your website for responsive design elements, loading times and mobile best practices. If you don’t pass their mobile friendliness test  then you can expect to see a 1/3 of your traffic drop. You will also notice that your website won’t rank as high in Google searches on mobile devices (especially if you rely on localized searches such as “fashion designers in Toronto”

So, what can you do?

First step, check if your website is mobile friendly by using Google’s own test tool (click here). Then, if you don’t have the resources to redo your entire site, start with one page at a time in terms of importance. For instance, first optimize your homepage and then move on to subsequent pages.

That being said, redoing your website shouldn’t be a burden and it might even do you good to get a web facelift and keep the look fresh. Our team is ready to help any fashion businesses that are in need of website mobile optimization, and our special packages start at only $1000 for a complete website! As always, don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you have any questions about your web and marketing needs, our advice is always free!

 

Fashion Crowdfunding – The Challenges

Over the last year we’ve seen hundreds of applications from eager independent fashion designers who want to take their brand to the next level, with a little help from crowdfunding. So,what is crowdfunding? Simply put, today, crowdfunding means raising money from different individuals through an online portal.

There are three types of crowdfunding: donation based crowdfunding, when the project owner gets “donations” for his or her cause; reward based crowdfunding, when the project owner provides different rewards to backers for their monetary support; and there is equity based crowdfunding, when the project owner gives away equity in return for money.

Luevo’s crowdfunding platform is product-based,  very similar to the reward based crowdfunding model. On our platform, fashion designers use their product as a reward, so those interested in supporting a  brand they can do it by pre-purchasing a product. It is the basis of pretail and the future of fashion.

With so many choices and success stories, crowdfunding is an easy way of raising money, right? Wrong. Crowdfunding like any other type of fund raising has its challenges. More so, studies show that fashion based projects have a lower than average success rate (for example, on Kickstarter – the largest crowdfunding platform the average success rate is about 40%, however fashion projects have  success rate of approximately 25%)

IS-CROWDFUNDING-RIGHT

I feel it is my duty to give you some insights into the challenges of creating a successful fashion crowdfunding campaign, and in a future article I’ll go over best practices and hacks you can use as a fashion project owner.

1. Time.

Project owners underestimate the amount of time they need to put into building a successful campaign. I sometimes get the very eager fashion designer asking me “I want to use your platform, how soon can I login and use it?” Well, like with any other platform, designers can use our system any time. However, my answer always includes a reminder that they should spend at least 2 months preparing for the campaign.

And this is the first challenge: taking time away from your day-to-day business in order to plan, create and monitor your crowdfunding campaign. And once the campaign is over, you are not done yet! Hopefully you’ve been successful and now it’s time to prepare those rewards for your backers.

2. Money.

Funny enough, you need money to make more money. You will need money for marketing, PR, and even for creating the rewards, packaging and shipping. Most often, packaging seems to be an overlooked expense that you will encounter. You will also need to set aside a budget for the campaign itself: you will need good photography (especially if  you are using your products as rewards), a video and you even might need help from a copy writer. All of these cost money.

3. Rewards

Creating the actual rewards can be a challenge, especially for fashion designers. The most successful campaigns on Kickstarter are those that have”affordable” reward levels, like gaming projects. Gaming project owners can ask for small amounts in return for early access to the game or other features. This is easily achievable for digital projects but not as much for physical product companies, like fashion brands.

So the challenge to overcome here is to find the right suppliers and manufacturers, lower your production costs, and give discounts to your initial buyers in a crowdfunding campaigns.

I know this last point will not sit well with most designers. But you have to think of a crowdfunding campaign like any other marketing campaign. The highest cost to pay is to gain a new customer, but once you do gain them, your goal is to sell them again, and again (cheaper to retain than acquire customers).

With a crowdfunding campaign, you not only gain new customers, but you gain PR, advocacy, word of mouth marketing and support and so much more. You will gain brand ambassadors that will advocate for you and support you in your venture’s future. So yes, while there are challenges, the rewards are much greater, and  a crowdfunding campaign should be seen as only a part of your ongoing branding and marketing efforts.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our crowdfunding e-book, 77 pages full of templates, workbooks and step by step instructions on how to build a successful crowdfunding campaign on any platform.

This article was written by our co-founder Ana Caracaleanu.

New marketing services for emerging fashion designers

Earlier this year we launched a number of support services for emerging fashion designers: web design, marketing and social media and public relations.  Our crowdfunding website can now be found at preorder.luevo.com and we are getting ready for next season!

For the last 2 years we’ve been working with dozens of fashion designers and we’ve learned some things about their business process and what defines success:

1. Good designers DESIGN. We’ve talked to designers that went to school or that were self-taught, and they all share the same passion: to design. If they are good at it, they live and breathe design.

2. Designers are CREATIVE minds. They work well with shapes, colors, they have a visual memory. They are not as good with numbers and analytics.

3. Designers lack TIME. You see, if they are good designers they spend most of their time designing and use their creativity to get inspired and keep designing. They don’t have the time for much else.

The problem is a business is not just the product. It’s just not good enough to have amazing products. The online space is an opportunity and a curse. It is an opportunity because you can reach so many people around the world virtually instant. But you are a small fish in the biggest ocean there is, so you will have a very hard time getting on that opportunity.

I was fortunate to be able to build an amazing team around me and that we share the same common values: to help emerging designers succeed in their businesses so they can create more jobs locally and further grow our textile industry.  We decided to put forward our knowledge, our skills and our experience and continue our work a lot more hands on that we were doing it before.

So here is how we can help aspiring and emerging fashion designers:

1. Fashion Branding & Web Design Services

Remember that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – and for that you need cohesive branding and a strong online presence that tells your story.

I know that web design might be overwhelming, and I also know that design agencies take advantage of those that are not tech savvy. We build wordpress based websites that offer our clients a variety of options and e-commerce built in. The advantage is that your website will be search engine optimized (SEO) and responsive (mobile friendly) and we offer free coaching to teach you how to do your own small changes and updates and how to further optimize your content to get more online traffic.

2. Fashion Public Relations

We created a unique new method of running public relations campaigns for our fashion clients. Our formula is easily customizable, and we can either teach you how to do it yourself or we can run a complete PR campaign for you. Be aware of agencies that charge ridiculous amounts of money and request monthly retainers. We can help you on a project based basis and we only charge a one time fee, there are no hidden fees with us!

3. Social Media for Fashion Brands

With this one we really have fun! While I teach Social Media at the George Brown College Fashion School, I make sure that myself and our team is always up to date with the latest tools and techniques.  We can work with you on a one time basis where we evaluate your social media presence and build your strategy, or we can get our hands dirty and manage your channels month to month.

As a side note, I am also personally available for hourly consultations if you just need me to come in  for a couple of hours and give support. And always remember, that we don’t start a project until we communicated the solution with our potential customer. So not only do we analyse the state of your business and your goals but we also offer our recommendations for free.

 

This article was written by our co-founder Ana Caracaleanu.

 

 

5 Networking Tips for Aspiring Fashion Designers

Networking is an interesting topic for me, as I grew as an entrepreneur and learned along the way to be more natural at it.  I don’t believe there are any books or courses that can teach you how to network well, but I believe you can teach yourself in finding your own “groove”.

Remember:

Leave your inhibitions at the door, and step in with grace, value creating thoughts and the mindset that anyone there can be as much help to you as you are to them.

I recently attended a Fashion and Tech meet-up in Santa Monica with my business partner, and our goal was to meet new people, and why not, potential customers or partners. We work with fashion designers, we help them get their businesses off the ground, help them with marketing, web development and strategy. This was a great opportunity to get some of my knowledge shared with the right individuals and get us known with the LA fashion community.

Networking tips

Here are my top 5 networking tips:

Tip #1: Know your audience

This was a meetup so I could read everyone’s profiles before attending from meetup.com. I learnt that most people in the audience were aspiring fashion designers. So instead of pitching the company I started talking to them about their problems, making suggestions and I offered my business card to take our conversations further.

Tip #2: Don’t rush

This is your douche-bag networker and I hate him (or her). They come to an event and their only goal is to go around and talk to as many people.  Most times you’ll end up in a conversation with above said networker when he’ll abruptly stop you and says something like “I have to go around and do my rounds” or “I have to go meet other people” . He has no interest in you and you’ll never see him again. Don’t be this guy.

Tip #3: Give value

This ties back into the above two points. if you know your audience, then you know what brings them to the event in the first place. Spend time with each prospect and provide something of value to them, they will be more engaged with what you have to say. At this event I tried to provide as much feedback as possible and make appropriate introductions to help the aspiring entrepreneurs.

Tip #4: Don’t stick together

I noticed that the events I attend together with my partner I tend to network less. We end up talking to each other, and by the end of the night we think that the event wasn’t worth while because nobody wanted to talk to us.  The problem is, when you stick together, others won’t approach you as they’ll think you are engaged in a private conversation.

Tip #5: Follow up

This one drives me insane. So many times I have met people that for one reason or another they couldn’t share their contact info with me (some genuinely forgot their business cards at home or my phone would be dead  and couldn’t take their info). I have met many fashion designers that I could have helped, but they only connect with me when they felt they needed something from me – sometimes months later. I am sorry, but by that point, I’d forgotten who you are.

Some of these may seem like common sense, however, when networking many become overwhelmed and unnatural. Just take it easy, one step at the time, and just think that everyone is there for the same reasons as you are, to meet new people!

This article was first published on LinkedIn by our co-founder Ana Caracaleanu.

Fashion Branding – the case of Patagonia (part 1)

What is branding?

Branding is creating a unique name and image for a product or range of products in the consumers’ mind. Branding focuses on influencing the perception of customers as an image or impression is built in the mind of customers. The idea of branding came up when the product itself was not enough in the midst of many competitors. Branding gave more options for the customers to choose from: the brand was an added value to the product. Customers could recognize their set of values through the brand. (Read our Intro to Branding here)

Your logo and identity have more impact than you think, they tell the customers what you stand for, who you are, and who you are talking to. Branding also has a lot of impact on your sales. A great design without good branding will not get noticed in the crowd of up-and-coming fashion designers.

And being noticed is what you are looking for in order to achieve your sales.

Your brand has to be built around your own unique vision, but at the same time make sure to set it up in terms of meaning, values and visual aspect. These 3 points also have to be respected all along the brand life to remain coherent and meaningful to your customers. Poor branding or poorly managed branding communication can go against the purpose of branding and can lead to failure.

In order to better understand how branding can drive the success or the failure of a fashion company we’ll go through a case study and discuss the main concepts of brand visuals, coherence and recognition.

Patagonia

A bit of history

Late 50’s, Yvon Chouinard, ardent rock climber, does not find satisfying climbing gear to his level and technique. From there, he decides to produce himself tools and equipment under the name of Chouinard Equipments. The idea is simple, he needs reliable gear in order to follow his passion, but he also needs money to sustain it. Chouinard Equipments becomes the solution, 6 months working and producing for 6 months of climbing.

patagonia

 

In 1964, his first mail ordering catalog is out. The foreword of all the offers is quality. Why quality? For security. Faulty climbing gear is dangerous. As Yvon Chouinard was himself a customer, his own life was on the line. Second focus was: perfection, taking his motto from Antoine de Saint Exupéry : ” In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness”.

The business started to grow, little by little more of Chouinard friends came on board. Because they lacked  competition (the market was not very profitable at that moment), Chouinard Equipments became the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US by 1970. Next step for him was to go into clothing.

So the clothing line Patagonia was born in 1973.

The challenge was to maintain the same focus of quality and perfection. Another concern was raised: environment.  Chouinard started to worry about the damage climbers did to the rocks as rock climbing became increasingly popular. That’s when  he came up with the idea of producing  products that would have the least impact on the rocks and on the environment was born.

From the get-go the brand had 3 values to stand by: quality, perfection and environmental. And with that in mind we will evaluate their branding in the second part of this article. Stay tuned!

 

This article was written by Alexandra, fashion consultant. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin