I met Elisa Eymery on my fifth day of living in the UK. I was looking for the infirmary at the French lycée and she happened to know where it was. She was wearing a Nile blue top with jeans and a tonal scarf instead of a belt, which I thought very cool. Nine years on, we’ve been to the same university, lived in the same student halls, hosted a radio show and been on holidays to Cairo together.
Last year, Elisa, freshly returned from a six-months trip to Asia, launched a project she’d been talking about since her student days: Wandering Minds, an online young fashion store stocking emerging, unknown brands sourced during her travels*.
The store has a buddy blog, No Experience, which features the behind-the-scenes of a fashion start-up as well as Elisa’s buying trips. I asked her about the importance of blogging to support an emerging fashion business, on the role of content marketing in generating sales and on her successful partnerships with bloggers.
Why did you decide to title the blog No Experience?
We wanted the name of the blog to reflect another aspect of our identify as a fashion start-up. Our store name, Wandering Minds, reflects the fact that we’re all about travelling and exploring the world to find cool, eclectic pieces.
No Experience emphasises the ‘young start-up’ aspect of our business, which we are quite proud of, although it also comes with challenges. We have no (or at least very little) experience in the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter, as the average age of our team is 25, but that’s not a bad thing. It pushes us to think logically and creatively, and to rely heavily on our instincts as young fashion consumers.
Why was it important for you to have a blog alongside your online store?
In business terms, it is unthinkable for online fashion stores not to have a blog. It allows us to express our personality as a retailer and it inspires trust amongst our potential customers. Trust remains a major issue for unknown brands/stores online, so having a well-developed, up-to-date blog definitely helps establishing confidence.
The blog is split into five sections, Behind-the-scenes being my personal favourite. How do you decide what to post and how do you make sure it stays true to the Wandering Minds ethos?
Behind-the-scenes is also my favourite section, but it is the most difficult to write. We always wanted to talk about the behind-the-scenes of running a fashion start-up, because it is fascinating and not many people write about it. But we’re also trying to portray ourselves as an established company, as we don’t want people to think we don’t know what we’re doing. Everything we do, from photoshoots to our fulfillment process, is on a very low budget. It’s the only way for us to survive as a company, and most people don’t even seem to notice; we get emails from people who seem to think we are a multinational sometimes!
So we’re in a bit of a dilemma at the moment regarding the tone of the blog: do we take a risk and emphasise the ‘home-made’ aspect of Wandering Minds, or do we try and emphasise other aspects unrelated to the start-up life, such as our fashion viewpoint, our sources of inspiration…
You sell an extended selection of products in the store but only feature a few on the blog - how do you choose them?
I used to always add links to our products in our blog posts, but I don’t feel obliged to any more. I try to write about things I really want to write about, so that the tone of the blog doesn’t feel forced or overly commercial. There are other places to do hard selling, and I don’t feel our blog is the right place for that.
That being said, if I write about my style inspiration, whether it’s a style icon or a really cool movie, I sometimes include links and photos of our products that would really work if our reader would want to emulate that style, and for that reason the products that I feature are often my favourite ones.
Have you noticed a link between the products you feature and how well something sells?
No I haven’t. However, I find that people who have first read the blog, and then visited the store, are a lot more committed to browsing the store, as well as finding more about our company and our concept. Our blog visitors spend quite a bit of time on the ‘about us’ page on our store. The blog definitely has been a great way to create a positive bias towards who we are as a company.
Why did you decide to blog on Tumblr?
We really weren’t sure which platform to use at first, but Tumblr seemed the easiest one to customise nicely, as well as having a social element with the dashboard and people being able to follow you very easily.
However we’re increasingly thinking about switching or also having a Wordpress blog, because it also seems like a great platform for people to stumble upon content they might like.
Quite a few bloggers have worn your clothes recently. What role are bloggers playing in the expansion of a recently launched startup like yours?
Bloggers have a huge direct impact on our sales performance. Whatever a blogger wears, their fans will buy! They can become quite angry when a particular item of clothing worn by their favourite blogger sells out, which is quite funny. Blogger collaborations are crucial to the survival of our business, and is also one of the cheapest and most effective way to promote our store.
For prospective customers who hadn’t heard about us through bloggers, it gives us additional credibility since a lot of people visit our press page, where we record the blog posts where we are featured.
How do you see No Experience evolve in 2013?
We need to find the right balance between sharing our start-up experience with our followers and keeping enough distance to be taken seriously.
We also need to write a lot more often, and I’d like to link our newly created Instagram account to our blog, to give a new dimension to the Wandering Minds behind-the-scenes narration.
Another big step for the blog will be the launch of our ‘shop by city’ feature on the store, where shoppers will be able to shop designers from a wide range of cool fashion cities. This new dimension will be accompanied by the creation of city-specific content by local bloggers, which should make for some very interesting and unique points of view to be shared on the blog.
* Full disclosure: I have been involved with the Wandering Minds adventure, in a moral support and at times advisory capacity.
All photos courtesy of Elisa Eymery at Wandering Minds.