At Velocity, we love narrating inspiring success stories of leading D2C brands to help budding entrepreneurs join the bandwagon. The next in our storytelling series is Everlane, a fashion retail brand for everyone. From its humble beginnings to where Everlane stands today, every step is an inspiration in its own way. We will follow these steps and highlight the lessons other brands can emulate to reach the top without solid ground to start with, just like Everlane did.
“We believe we can all make a difference”
That’s the mindset setting Everlane apart from the other D2C fashion retailers in the league.
Starting its journey in 2010 as an online-only brand, Everlane achieved incredible growth from $0 to $100M in just six years, and there has been no looking back since then.
What’s the secret of the booming growth of this small-time e-commerce seller? How did it manage to retain loyal sellers in a market flooded with luxury brands and popular D2C retailers? Was it quality, branding, or pricing? Let’s unveil the secrets of Everlane, but before that, we want you to get to the roots, where everything started.
Everlane- The Inspiring Journey of the Brand Consumers Love For Its Radical Transparency
Everlane was the brainchild of Michael Preysman and Jesse Farmer, who joined hands to launch the brand with the core idea of selling “transparent pricing.” Michael Preysman, 25, worked in an Internet investment firm, researching big names like Yelp and Facebook. An entrepreneur by heart, he found his calling in retail rather than technology. Jesse Farmer shared his mindset and jumped at the opportunity to partner with Preysman.
The risk of leaving their tech jobs seemed big, but they took it because they believed in their passion and wanted to realize their dream to bring transparent and affordable fashion to everyone.
Both were on the same page about creating a brand that was about transparency rather than trends. Hence came the tagline- “We’re not big on trends.” Everlane made it big even without selling trendy fashion. If there’s one highlight in the brand’s story, it’s solid customer trust.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Everlane embarked on its journey as an online brand, and today, it has stores across the US. The transparency paid off in a big way as the small brand became a market leader despite its modest beginning. It started from scratch, secured $1.1 million in seed funding in 2015 and earned a whopping revenue of $50 million in the same year.
Today Everlane ships its products to 143 countries and earns an annual revenue beyond $250 million. Besides winning the number game, the brand has also come a long way with diversification. It started small with men’s t-shirts, but now has a broad portfolio with womenswear, shoes, bags, and accessories, all because it understood the pain point of high fashion being beyond the reach of its target audience.
The USP of transparency made Everlane a D2C winner, but the brand has several more inspiring lessons worth emulating. Here are a few lessons every entrepreneur must consider embracing.
Lesson #1: Transparency fosters trust
Everlanepromotes itself as radically transparent and lives up to the word. The website reveals the true cost of each product in its line, with every detail of factory cost (material, labor, and transport). Buyers have a good reason to trust the brand because of its authenticity with a hundred-per-cent markup, which isn’t a norm in traditional retail selling. The best part is that everything is visible and easy to understand. That’s the USP of Everlane because no other brand does it.
The Takeaway: With customer trust on its side, Everlane carved a niche for itself in the competitive space.
Lesson #2: Educate, not just promote
Besides being open about product pricing, Everlane has been a pioneer of consumer education. On its website, it educates customers about everything one can think of, from factories to employees and supply chains. They can see how things work behind the curtain and what practices are followed in the factories.
The Takeaway: Educating customers can help brands foster stronger connections to make them stick around for the long haul.
Lesson #3: Unlock the potential of word of mouth
Making noise is the best way to make your brand visible, but you need to do it right. Everlane nailed its product launch strategy with a referral invite list that fetched 60,000 subscribers in five days. The response was astonishing, considering that there were only 1,500 T-shirts in inventory. The tactic proved the power of referrals when it comes to leveling the playing field for new brands in a competitive landscape. Since the brand didn’t have a huge catalog, it leveraged referrals to make the most of what it had. And the results were unprecedented!
The Takeaway: You need not spend a fortune on our brand launch. Just get people talking about your brand to spread the word. Here is our step-by-step guide on product launch, that can help you get started.
Lesson #4: Sustainability sells
From the outset, Everlane established itself as a sustainable brand and continued to strive for the vision. In 2018, the brand launched ReNew, a unique product line that took eco-friendliness to the next level. The incredible thing about the line was that it was created from millions of recycled plastic bottles. Besides promoting ReNew, Everlane has been eliminating the use of plastic elements in other lines. It also uses certified organic cotton as raw material and follows ethical practices in its factories. Sustainability is a selling point in the current landscape because consumers are more than keen to embrace the green trend. Everlane capitalized on the mindset to strengthen its brand.
The Takeaway: Sustainability is evergreen, so it can give your brand a winning advantage, no matter how competitive the market is. Thinking about how to start? Begin by providing sustainable, eco-friendly packaging.
Lesson #5: Quality is the real winner
In the era of fast fashion, this brand prioritizes quality over everything else because it wants customers to wear its pieces for decades to come. From Grade-A cashmere sweaters to Peruvian Pima tees and Italian shoes, each product in its line is crafted with the finest materials that promise quality and durability. The best part is that they come at an affordable price.
The Takeaway: Trends come and go, but quality stays forever. It single-handedly builds a loyal fan base for brands.
Lesson #6: Stay on top of tech
Another lesson D2C brands can learn from Everlane is to act like a tech company even as they sell retail products. Technology is the cornerstone of all e-commerce brands as they need websites and mobile apps to extend their outreach and sell their products. Everlane founders got a head start by moving base from New York to San Francisco just to ensure they had experts at hand to help them with their online presence. The brand also leveraged a digital strategy and social media to maximize its marketing returns.
The Takeaway: Whatever your product offerings, technology is one thing you cannot miss out on as a business in the modern landscape. Start using Velocity Insight to get a headstart on your business data.
Lesson #7: Extend outreach through strategic partnerships
Everlane stepped up its marketing goals through unconventional means, such as strategic partnerships. Besides appearing on countless fashion blogs for organic outreach, it also runs a robust affiliate program to reach more users. It collaborates with top bloggers to get product reviews and reach their audience. Not to mention, it gets the advantage of the influencer’s word-of-mouth. That’s a win-win!
The Takeaway: Brands should not depend only on traditional marketing strategies to reach the audience. Strategic partnerships can be real game-changers. Here is the list of top 100 Indian Instagram influencers that you can reach out for your marketing.
Lesson #8: Go aggressive with guerilla tactics
Guerilla marketing is about thinking outside the box with creative ideas to acquire customers. Everlane took the cue and got aggressive to stand out in a competitive space. It partnered with Postmates, an on-demand food delivery company, to deliver orders in under an hour in major American cities. It was probably the first company to try this unconventional tactic, which paid off well. The proposition appealed to the existing customers and garnered tons of attention from the press.
The Takeaway: Good marketing is about being aggressive and unconventional, so try something beyond expectations to drive lasting results.
Do you plan to dive into the D2C startup landscape without massive financial backing? Undoubtedly, the market is competitive, and the road isn’t easy, but there’s a way to reach the top. With these inspiring lessons from Everlane, you can surely carve a niche and set up your dream startup for success.
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