As many businesses would agree, COVID has been the most unique challenge we’ve faced so far in our business journey. With global freight coming to a grinding halt, all acquisition of leather and hardware has proved incredibly challenging, forcing us to adjust our development and delivery calendars and remain flexible as new situations arise.
Throughout the time we were forced to close our doors, it was extremely important to us not to let anyone on our team go, a team we consider family. Although it was a financial sacrifice for the company, we managed to do that, keeping our entire team on board--a few of whom have been with us for multiple decades.
When food banks were experiencing shortages during quarantine, we also introduced a new program as a way to give back to the community and do our part to help families in need. With every purchase made on our website, we donate ten meals to Feeding America. Thanks to our loyal and steadfast customers, we’ve made it to 82,000 meals donated (and counting) since we began the initiative.
Must-know tips for growing a DTC brand
Starting a brand is a challenge, and the challenge only becomes greater the longer you’re going at it. Having helped my husband build and expand our now thirty-seven-year-old leather goods brand, I have some solid experience to back up my advice.
Here are five suggestions for how to build a long-lasting brand of your own.
1. Put the customer first.
The customer is important. They are the reason you have a business and a brand in the first place, and it’s their generosity that got you to where you are. Putting them first, listening to their needs, and accommodating their requests as best you can are how you can repay them for that generosity.
Adopting an affiliate program was one of the ways we did this at Latico. It has not only helped us connect with our most loyal customers in more full and creative ways but it’s also given those loyal customers more opportunities to be involved with a brand they love.
2. Trust the customer.
Trust the customer’s taste to guide your product expansion. Expand on what’s selling rather than reinventing the wheel for seasonal launches.
At Latico Leathers, we make sure to expand our product based on feedback from customers. We believe in quality over quantity, sustainable materials, and personal style rather than fleeting trends--and this ethos has fueled our product expansion decisions for many years.
3. Infuse the brand with your values.
Building a brand you believe in is hard work. It takes years, and a lot of dedication, creativity, and flexibility. To believe in your brand, you have to believe in its values. Therefore, infusing your brand with your values is an important way to pave the way for the years to come. You want to make sure it’s a brand that you want to put all that work into.
For Latico, that means making sustainability, affordability, and giving back a core part of the brand’s value system. Our motto is “passion over fashion.”
4. Empower loyal customers to spread the word.
Building an authentic community of brand ambassadors from our pool of loyal customers has been an ongoing project of ours--and is one DTCs brand should work on, too.