By T.C. Daniel, Bradamant
I have always been a bit of a Rabble Rouser, so it doesn't surprise me that my Shopify business is built on two revolutions.
In 2010, I gave birth to my fourth child - a daughter after three boys. I was delighted and enchanted with the idea of this female legacy, and also completely dedicated to being a stay-at-home mom, this time. I had worked throughout my other pregnancies and babyhoods, and wanted to experience this alternate universe; this cozy-sounding, peaceful, mindful living it seemed some of my friends had mastered.
Two months in, I was nursing on our bed, crying and feeling very lost when my husband called from his V.C. work where the hours were long and the pay was underwhelming.
He was bewildered by my misplaced anger, frustration and restlessness.
"Tamar," he said. "Get off the bed. Put the baby down. And go and start your business. Right now."
And I did. I went down to the basement and started sketching. (Don't worry the baby was in a bouncy chair!) The only thing that scared me more than starting my own line was not starting it.
I had learned a lot about street culture, trend chasing, and the pitfalls of retail during my time at Topshop and Anthropologie. I drew on that experience and got to work researching the market.
What I found was a flooded space. So many options. So much sameness. I was hemorrhaging our money while trying to figure out sample development, fabric sourcing, sales and marketing on my own. Without deep pockets and industry connections, I quickly realized that I would need a way to stand out from the crowd. Overnight success takes at least 5 years, and a bunch of money.
As a child of the eighties. I remember fondly the cooler older girls with their sleek bodysuits, how glam they seemed and how untouchable. And it occurred to me. The much-maligned bodysuit was a great idea, but somehow the execution of it had gone wrong. I revisited this wardrobe staple; turning it this way and that, and gathering feedback.
Women were afraid of trying to pee. They were traumatized by snaps popping open at inopportune times. They remembered having a prominent VPL. They couldn't reach to do it up. There was a long list of woes.
None of this deterred me. I began to see it as more and more of an opportunity to take a whole category and do it better. I began to get excited. And as the prototypes got better and the reactions became more and more positive, other people started to get excited too.
Here is an item that makes you look slimmer. It makes you look professional. That's powerful. (Hello, Spanx! Talking to you Donna Karan.)
I took my knit design background and developed a collection of gorgeous tops for every occasion and body type. I replaced the snaps with the same type of hook and eye closure women are used to on their bras (they stay hooked and they lie flat). I moved the opening further up on the body so it's easier to reach, and I offer a thong and a full back, both with flat seams, so no VPL!
The reinvention of the bodysuit was my first revolution. I am so excited to be teaching more women about this great option.
To name the brand, I was looking for a strong female. Who else could lead this type of revolution?
Bradamant was a renaissance knight with a husband and son, who fought alongside her father and brother in battle. Bradamant is the perfect icon of a woman trying to juggle it all and bravely fighting to live her life as she wants.
Feminine. Modern. Strong. She embodies the values of my brand. Coming across that legend felt quite serendipitous, and the URL being free was even more so.
When I realized that Bradamant is also an anagram of my name, the deal was sealed.
With the product in place, I turned to my trusty friend the Internet to help me sell. I had some knowledge of selling online from my sketchpad business, The Fashion Sketchpad, but I needed a more sophisticated platform for multiple SKUs and beautifully showcased imagery. When you're selling clothing online, your images are everything.
Shopify has been a great help for us. When you're starting out, you need support, and Shopify feels like being part of a community. The interface is easy for a non-coder and has saved me a bundle in custom development. I was able to choose a template design that I love and get compliments on all the time. The apps and integrations meant I was up and running with Google Shopping, Mailchimp, and Olark Live chat really quickly and easily.
With the store set up, I realized we once again needed a differentiator. I became intrigued by the idea of integrating social media interactions in our pricing strategy in a new way.
What if we put our money where our mouth is and actually reward women for steps they take in real life? Once I had that thought, I became pretty obsessed with different iterations of playing it out.
The result is Reach Rewards, what I think is a really revolutionary way of doing business. Women tell us (on twitter, FB, instagram or email) about steps they've taken that they're proud of, and we send them shopping codes as rewards, right away, no questions asked. It's so simple!
So here's what I've learned: If you're embarrassed to show something, it's not good enough. Go back and try again until you feel proud to put your name on it. Don't believe it when people tell you that you suck. Don't believe it when people tell you that you're fantastic. You know inside if what you're doing is fantastic or terrible. Listen to the bullsh*t detector and keep it real.
T.C. Daniel's formal education is a BA (hons) at Shenkar College Design and Engineering Israel. Upon graduation, she was lucky enough to win an Italian talent search competition and flew to Trieste, Italy to have her collection walked down the runway there. She sketches all the time. She sketches so much she had to create her own sketchpad to keep up: The Fashion Sketchpad (Chronicle Books 2011), The Pantone Fashion Sketchpad, The Pocket Fashion Sketchpad, and the soon to be released Outfit a Day: A Fashion Planner.
This year, Shopify's Build A Business Competition is bigger than ever. Shopify is giving away more than $500,000 in cash, prizes and mentorship in its fourth annual competition. Contestants create a store and try to sell the most in their category for a chance to win $50,000 and a VIP trip to NYC to meet their mentor.