The Journey To MOLLY: Creating An Online Presence, Building Brand Awareness & Dealing With Brand Features
While many are naturally inclined to the social scene online, I tend to shy away from it. It could be due to the fact that before I started my brand I never really felt the need to share details about my life with opinionated strangers or put myself out there, but nonetheless, I'm probably the most socially introverted person I know. If that makes any sense. With today's online climate being the basic blueprint for a small business' success, there's no getting around it. You gotta do what you gotta do to adapt to this new era of entrepreneurship, and even though it's not my strongest suit, I have to get with the times.
When I first discovered my gift of designing shoes on Valentine's day 2017, I revelled in the escape it provided and the joys it brought to me at one of the lowest points in my life. Shortly after getting back to reality and trying to map out what I planned to do with this talent, I realized I had to get out of my comfort zone and onto social media platforms to create a presence for myself if I wanted to succeed. In 2017, I opened an Instagram page where I shared photos reflective of my personality and style, and in doing so I was able to learn more about myself by looking from the outside in. What I learnt: I'm super outgoing, fun, and amiable, but also fiery, dark and reserved. It's a very contradicting reality, but nonetheless, it's reflected and embodied in my brand and designs.
In April 2020, I went on to create an official brand page- @brandedbymolly, but I was still a bespoke shoemaker producing one-of-one pieces so I would mostly share behind-the-scenes content of my design & shoemaking processes, as well as updates on The Journey To Molly. However, after deciding to go into a small-scale production of the first release of my debut collection- The Gemini Rebirth, I knew it was time to rebrand. I proceeded to take down all content unrelated to my award-winning design and spent many months figuring out how to go about this new phase.
Making the transition from Bespoke Shoemaker to Luxury Retailer will inarguably be a bit more challenging since I have to actively make efforts to appeal to my niche market, as opposed to one client at a time, but I'm hoping I can find my way around it. I've also spent 3 months coding and perfecting my online store before the scheduled release in March to ensure that my site is engaging & informative, my users are able to shop with ease, and that everything runs smoothly.
Now this is where the going gets tough.
Creating an online presence was probably a walk in the park compared to building my brand awareness. Since I'm considered a "rookie" in the fashion industry, and seeing as it mostly depends on a consumer's familiarity with my brand, I would say my brand awareness right now is somewhere between daylight and a year-long eclipse.
Thanks to the A-Design Award, MOLLY is more discoverable, but not as much as I would hope for. Ultimately, I will have to do a lot of heavy-lifting with online marketing strategies to keep building my brand awareness. For entrepreneurs working without the backing of bigger, well-known influencers or establishments, having a tailored marketing strategy is crucial due to the fact that most people will likely overlook your products or page simply because they've never heard of you and don't see a reason to buy into what you're selling, and unfortunately, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Once I re-launch in March, I plan to do a lot of cross-platform marketing; running ads on social media sites from Facebook to YouTube, and I'm also considering Influencer and Celebrity marketing as an approach to build credibility for consumers who may be skeptical of my brand in its early stages. As the saying goes- "you have to spend money to make money"... I know it's a very huge leap for me, but it has to be done if I want to successfully put my emerging brand out there.
Press releases arising from the A' Design Award have helped elevate the discoverability of my brand online since creator's of award-winning designs were set out to take part in brand interviews on platforms such as Designers.org & DesignPRWire. They were no viral interviews, but tbh, I was just grateful to be sharing more about my experience and brand with someone other than myself. Haute Fashion Africa is also another huge online platform that featured MOLLY late last year. The well-known network operates as a directory for an array of Fashion Creatives in the industry and focuses on preserving and promoting African Fashion.
As I mentioned earlier, it's very difficult to build a high-standing reputation when you're unknown in the fashion industry, which is why I dedicated some time to researching & creating a PR List comprised of recognizable establishments & creatives in the industry. This list, coupled with a range of marketing strategies I have cooked up should (hopefully) be sufficient enough to acquire more features in my early stages, however, I am not quite ready to act on my plans just yet. It makes no sense to spend all this money and time advertising, gaining the interest of my niche market, only to delay shipments when the sales start rolling in simply because I am unprepared. I think that would be the quickest way to lose trust from potential buyers. All-in-all y'all, pray for me, cause it's hard out here for when you're trying to build solo dolo.
This was yet another train-of-thought I figured I'd share as I maneuver my way through the world wide web, but as always... it's been nice keeping it all the way real on The Journey To MOLLY.
Until next time,