They say constraint is good for creativity, so it makes sense that smaller brands with fewer resources are often the most inventive. Bow & Drape, a clothing line centered on the cheeky customization of sweatshirts and tees that launched in 2012, is a great example. The brand will be rolling out two unique social initiatives this week which will double as customer perks: sample sales and a Live founder series, both of which will be housed on Instagram.
“We like to be really accessible, and platforms give us an opportunity to engage with our customers in a way that we can’t through mass e-mails or through our website,” said founder Aubrie Pagano. “With each new feature that comes out on each respective channel, we always try to figure out how our customer will want to use it to interact with us and what’s special about it to our customer.”
A style by Bow & Drape
The founder series will take place every few weeks on Instagram Live and will feature Pagano weighing in on specific topics. It will have a question-and-answer component, as well — viewers can submit questions through the comments section as they watch. According to Pagano, the idea stemmed from her realization that the brand’s most engaging social posts were those that either came directly from the founder or requested customer feedback — for instance, asking them to vote on which sweatshirt design has the best pun (a staple of the brand). “Instagram Live provides this really cool opportunity to have a conversation with our customer who’s really willing and excited to participate in the brand and how to make it better,” she said.
The first round of the founder series will take place this Friday and will focus on customer feedback that stems from the annual survey Bow & Drape will be distributing to its e-mail list the day before. The next will center on how the brand plans to position itself amidst a highly contentious political climate. The hope is to “continue the conversations that our customer enjoys most,” Pagano said.
The second initiative was more serendipitous. Three weeks ago, just as a blizzard hit New York, where Bow & Drape is based, the brand held a sample sale that did not go as planned. “We had this beautiful space that we decked out with champagne and donuts, but of course, it was snowing and nobody was showing up,” said Pagano, who described earlier sample sales, conversely, as “madness.” In response, her crafty team (there are eight members total) decided to start posting pieces on Instagram Stories to drive purchases and entice more people to come out. “First come, first serve — send us your digits!” the posts said. Once an offer went through, one of Bow & Drape’s customer service girls simply called the “winner” up to collect her credit card info. The team posted around 20 items (some of which had multiples) over the course of the next three days, and everything sold out immediately, resulting in just shy of $10,000 in sales.
One of Bow & Drape’s Instagram-based sample sales
The experience was so positive that Bow & Drape now plans to program it out, holding sales once a week, starting this Thursday. “It was a fun discovery,” said Pagano. “Customers will be able to anticipate that we’ll have extra stuff that they can get for a steal, while also getting a sense of what’s behind the scenes.”
And Pagano has more up her sleeve for the brand. There are talks of inviting customers further into the brand’s world by having them compete to get their pun on a new Bow & Drape item, in the vein of an internal competition they hold for “most pun-y employee” that results in a cash prize.
She’ll also be launching a social campaign this spring that is tentatively titled Magic Moments. “What’s cool about our brand is that we can help someone express or cement a really special moment in their life,” said Pagano, noting that she’s seen customers using her pieces to do everything from propose to celebrate beating cancer. “What we’ve seen is that so much of our user-generated content comes from these wild moments. The campaign will be about celebrating those moments via our social channels in more depth.”
Of course, new product and customization types are also on the horizon. Though the brand has kept its SKUs really tight over the last few years — Pagano suspects they’ve had a dozen, max — it plans to launch 30 new SKUs over the next 12 months, building out its customization techniques (sequins are what they’re known for) to include options like embroidery and chenille. Though launch dates are yet to be confirmed, you can bet they’ll be on social when they are.