There's a little factory the countryside of Northern Italy that has been making leather products for three generations. The household who owns the facility has a close relationship with a nearby tannery, so their employees understand the tricks of these particular cowhides: they understand precisely how sunlight will darken soft vachetta leather, which sections are best utilized for belts, and which bits are so thin that they ought to be disposed of. In the United States, workmanship of this quality is generally connected with costly high-end brands like Herm s and Celine, where a leather bag can cost upward of $2,000.
The cofounders of Cuyana, Shilpa Shah and Karla Gallardo, believed there must be a way to make high-quality items offered at lower rates.
The duo began looking for a benefit that would break them into the standard retail supply chain. It's no secret that companies throughout the style spectrum, from fast fashion like Forever21 to designer brand names like Tory Burch had moved their production to factories in Asia. And to be more efficient, these factories allow companies to combine all their manufacturing from bags to clothing to shoes into a single location. Employees at these factories must be very nimble, learning to change back and forth between different materials, while churning brand-new items out at a really quick rate.
Shah and Gallardo decided to introduce a start-up that re-imagined the existing manufacturing procedure. With a round of angel investment, they invested 2 years traveling the world, going to small workshops that specialized in certain materials, such as the factory in Italy.
" What you're looking at is a distinction in between factories that have grown through generations with knowledge in specific materials versus bigger factories that use a lot of equipment to make lots of materials," Gallardo states. "And that attention to detail is extremely important to keep a product excellent through the years."
However, despite the fact that they had a clear vision of the products they wanted to make, their company method was a difficult one. Instead of producing the cheap, changeable products that customers were searching for, they needed to cultivate a new kind of customer. One who would comprehend that having a full closet with a lot of different choices is not always much better than one with fewer, pricier items that they truly like.
If they could effectively alter their customer's tastes which's a huge if they would have a huge brand-new business chance.
Their plan is off to an excellent start. 5 years on and Cuyana has actually secured three rounds of financing, and grown to over 40 employees.
They've also assisted to pioneer a brand-new trend in shopping, which they refer to as the "lean wardrobe" movement. Gallardo created the brand's motto, "Fewer, Better Things," as she reflected to her youth in Ecuador. She remembers how precious her ownerships were to her as a little woman. The majority of people around her didn't have much disposable income, so they just bought things they genuinely required or enjoyed. Gallardo's moms and dads were extremely intentional about every purchase. Prior to buying a bag, for instance, they would ponder whether it was well-crafted and long lasting, possibly even lasting sufficient to hand down to the next generation.
A year later on, when Gallardo came to college in the United States, she was practically showered with clothing, shoes, and bags, much of it so low-cost, even a bad student might manage it. But paradoxically, she did not discover shopping to be a particularly fulfilling experience. Most of the items readily available in shops seemed created to be disposable, and well-made products were thought about luxury goods, with unattainable price tags.
Cuyana promotes a minimalist lifestyle, encouraging women to only own products they genuinely love. With every purchase, clients have the choice of getting a bag to contribute things in their wardrobe they no longer want in exchange for store credit. Gallardo and Shah were tired of the widespread consumerism in American culture, and thought that other women should be too. Their brand is pressing back against the extreme, thoughtless shopping that is promoted by brands that churn out $2 T-shirts and $5 jeans.
At the same time, Japanese organizational guru, Marie Kondo, whose book about the wisdom of decluttering your home and especially purging your wardrobe triggered a global sensation and triggered many American women to dramatically reduce their closets. Last month, a new app called Capsules introduced, helping women cull down their wardrobe to 35 items.
On first blush, being an e-commerce company that encourages women to purchase less things might appear like a bad company strategy. The founders have actually discovered that their model consists of effectiveness that make the company attractive to financiers. They save money by making in small factories that do not require enormous minimum order quantities. When they roll out a new product, they essentially "beta-test" it by making a little batch to see if it offers before positioning a larger order. "At larger factories, companies are mandated to buy so much more than then have to sell," Shah states. "A great deal of it ends up being liquidated."
Cuyana likewise cuts down on product development expenses by selling a curated option of timeless products rather than introducing dozens or hundreds of items every weather, like other fashion brand names. In the end, they are able to price their products just slightly higher than those at quick fashion brands, but significantly lower than comparable products at luxury designers: A leather tote bag costs $175, a weekender costs $150, and a cotton shirt costs $40.
But marketing these products to consumers is another difficulty completely. How would they get women who were so accustomed low-cost, low-grade products to pay more for much better quality? And how would they even demonstrate this quality online?
On the website, Shah and Gallardo have actually decided not to overload the customer with too many information about the production process however to evoke a broader story of about the beauty of living a more minimalistic lifestyle, surrounded by a highly curated choice of reliable, elegant things. Cuyana's marketing often includes a woman standing in a field of flowers wearing a slip dress and clutching a bag, in some cases shot in black and white. Women who purchase Cuyana products are buying into to the story they are telling about simplexes and taste.
Shah states that it has been more effective for the brand name to show, rather than to inform, their customers about why their brand name is different. Cuyana is counting that after she sees how the bag feels different from other items she owns; she will come back to buy other items.
" A lot of our customers do not comprehend quality," Shah states. "They may be aspirational buyers who shop at Zara. However, they come through the door fascinated by our philosophy and they see the distinction in our products, so they become informed that way."