daph-blog

Speaking of…hard work, believing in yourself and the power of imagination…

Daphne Benzaquen

Before I started writing this piece, I looked back at the last Fashion Fund related blog post that I wrote back in September and immediately noticed that I referred to daph. as my side hustle. How things have changed! A little over 6 months later and it’s the top thing I think about, talk about and yes, even dream about.

As is the case in many journeys, there are points throughout when you may get discouraged, frustrated and even annoyed, “why aren’t people buying my bags?!?” “98 visits to my website in a day? Pitiful!” First month in, I’ll admit that I just wanted to curl up into a ball and say, “what have I done? How will I sell all this inventory I have?!? I’m doomed!”

Now, a couple of months wiser, I choose to keep trekking on and not focus on the bumps in the road.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love finding inspiration in my surroundings, whether it be friends, family, strangers I meet or by attending events. This past week, I attended The St. Louis Fashion Fund “Speaking of Fashion” event at my alma mater, Washington University, headlined by Tapestry CEO, Victor Luis.

Not really knowing what to expect, I left the talk more inspired and passionate about daph. than I had been in a while.

 

Top 3 memorable moments:

 

Stay Grounded:

As I waited for the presentation to begin, I noticed there was a small glass bowl full of green wrapped myseries on one of the side tables. It struck me as a bit odd seeing that the stage was beautifully adorned with Forsyth luxurious furniture pieces; the bright green seemed out of place. It wasn’t until a few minutes into the talk with Victor that I realized its overwhelming significance. As a child, Victor, who immigrated from Portugal later in life, would receive various crates from his relatives in the US. The most memorable item in the box was always Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum because the scent “just smelled like America”. Now Victor has Wrigley’s gum available for his whole team at all times in this office. Some may think he has a strong liking to the stuff, but in reality, it is a reminder to keep him grounded and reminiscent of where he came from.

Hearing this story not only made me smile, but also resonated with me and my proud passion of my Peruvian heritage. Besides using Peruvian leather, which is not obvious when showcasing my pieces, each piece has a small huayruro seed as the period on the daph logo. Some might think it’s a random bead, but no! It’s something that has always reminded me of Peru and was very important for me to incorporate somewhere on my products.  To learn more about huayruro seeds, click here.

 

Branding takes time:

Having been an avid Kate Spade and Coach fan (I even incorporated Coach’s latest ad in one of my vision boards – a story for another time), it was interesting to learn the story about how Coach grew up enough to acquire the quirky Kate Spade brand. I was surprised to find out that Coach started as a men’s wallets and belts brand (excited to announce the launch of men’s wallets this summer, you’re welcome friends!) and later moved to bags that were unlined. Hello, brenda. and sonia. totes! They focused on their bags and the quality rather than creating a lifestyle which the bags fit into. For the first ten years of existence this was a very successful strategy, but as time passed and new up and coming brands emerged (enter Kate Spade), consumers were leaving Coach by the wayside. Coach had relied so heavily on its name recognition that it forgot about establishing credibility with its consumer and creating a narrative around their products, their use, versatility and reliability. They were too scared of losing their loyal customers by changing their messaging and brand story to attract a new wave of different-thinking consumers.

 With Victor Luis’ strategic, imaginative thinking and creation of Tapestry as the house of brands, Coach was able to rebrand to attract a wider audience and reclaim a spot as a high-quality leather goods producer along side preppy, feminine Kate Spade.

 Hearing from Victor, someone who has been in the handbag business for years, that branding takes time only confirmed that I need to work on my patience and continue to narrow down my story and brand. Having taken many branding courses, I’d think it’d be pretty straight forward to get everything set up, but I can safely tell you it’s not. Narrowing down my target audience, who the “perfect daph. girl” has taken a lot of time: from spending hours scouring magazines for additions to my vision boards to researching boutiques that attract my audience, to stalking other brands who are defiantly not daph. but have a well-established brand. But every day I get a little bit closer. Branding takes time, lots and lots of time.

 

The Power of Social Media:

Considering myself an avid social media user I definitely am aware of the power it has on today’s consumers. My thoughts were only confirmed when Victor emphasized the culture change of many younger consumers nowadays. This new generation is focused more on buying pieces rather than collections, i.e. the weekly Supreme drops that my sister is obsessed with (do I mention her too much? I think yes!). Consumers want unique pieces that are limited in release and are to be admired if you are lucky enough to “cop” one in time.

Guess I was with the times when I decided to launch daph. with a small quantity of goods in the original collection. Each piece comes in exclusive colors and in a limited quantity to ensure those who have purchased their daph. bag will not see it being carried around by every other girl in their class, office or coffee shop. It’s the limited availability which makes it unique and desired, besides the quality and design of course!

The impact of influencers online has also immensely grown. People like learning about other people, what they are wearing, watching and eating. And for those that have worked hard enough to share the majority of their life with the public and attained the famed influencer status, working with brands is a major part of their daily life. Having a handful of bloggers which I love to follow and interact with, I knew that when I launched daph., working with influencers was a must. I was excited, I just didn’t know the “right time”. Then one day I realized “is there a ‘right time’”? Trends are changing, brands are being born every second, I gotta get out there! So, I scoured Instagram, various tags and locations to find “daph. girls.” This in itself helped me develop my branding further. Who is the perfect daph. girl? Where does she live? Where does she vacation? Who does she hangout with? What does she wear? What does she do for fun? And it was then when I started discovering more and more girls all over the place, some even reaching out to work with ME, that I realized the importance of translating my brand into an emotional and relatable language for my consumers to understand and fall in love with.

I’ve definitely found a couple I am SO excited to collaborate with and can’t wait to share their stylings with you next month!

 

The final and most impactful words that Victor left us with and those I leave you with are some that not only keep me inspired and excited about daph., but also are tried and true. So, for those out there who want to start something and are scared, I’ve been there. It is scary. It is hard, but it’s worth it. Every. Single. Day.

“With hard work, belief and power of imagination, the possibilities are endless. Nothing is ever limited.” - Victor Luis


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