Erin and Sara Foster are used to being described as writers, producers, actors, entrepreneurs, maybe influencers — but “fashion brand founders” is a new one.
“I think it’s a combination of imposter syndrome and of, like, ‘Wait, pinch me, we have a fashion brand,’” said Sara Foster, upon being caught off-guard by her Glossy Podcast introduction.
After a successful collaboration with Joe’s Jeans in 2020, the sisters launched their apparel brand, Favorite Daughter, through Joe’s founder Centric Brands on December 1. They’re now focused on taking it to the next level, starting with reaching shoppers beyond their Instagram follower base (which, combined, tops 1 million).
“Right now, people are buying Favorite Daughter because of us. But we don’t want that to continue for the long term,” said Erin Foster. “We want people to find Favorite Daughter and like it because they just like it — and maybe they know that we’re behind it, and maybe they don’t.”
Since launching with a focus on women’s ready-to-wear and DTC online sales, the founders have been busy with expansion plans. They’re currently considering brand collaborations in the footwear and jewelry categories, as well as eying the kids’ clothing space and scouting locations for potential stores.
“We know that we have to find ways to separate ourselves in this totally oversaturated market,” said Sara Foster.
Along with strategies for differentiating, the founders also discussed their “privileged” path in fashion and the lessons they’ve learned from fellow female leaders.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Getting a head start in fashion
Sara: “We definitely skipped a few steps here. We have not been pounding the pavement in the fashion industry; we’ve been pounding the pavement in many other areas of our career and life, and really, we’re just lucky to have this opportunity. And we’re lucky that we were able to launch in a pandemic. It could have easily been one of the first brands that sort of got scrapped from Centric Brands. They have a lot of successful stuff, and they could have easily said, ‘You know what? We’re gonna put a pin in Favorite Daughter, because, who the fuck are you guys? You’ve never proven yourself in this industry.’ … I listen to a lot of people on podcasts talking about their companies. And I’m like, ‘Don’t bullshit a bullshitter; you had a lot of help.’ Let’s be real here. We have an unbelievable partner in Centric Brands, and this just wouldn’t be happening without them.”
On balancing quality and price
Erin: “You can make two different kinds of clothing lines: You can make a clothing line for everybody, which is going to be really affordable, and potentially the quality won’t be as great. Or you can make a line where you really focus on quality, but the price point is going to be a little bit higher. There are a lot of people out there who get an opportunity to make a clothing line, and they push something out there [where] the return rate is really high, because honestly, it’s shitty. And we’re not interested in a short-term, shitty clothing line for some big paycheck, and then everybody gets it and it falls apart because the quality sucks. We really wanted to make stuff that we were proud of, things that we can send our friends and not be embarrassed about, and things that people that we don’t know can buy. People send us messages saying, ‘OK, I got the masked hoodie, and I really love this about it.’ Or, ‘I wish it was shorter.’ And we take that to everybody at Centric, and we say, ‘This is what people are saying about this.’ So we made the choice to really make quality a priority. And some people who follow us felt like the price point was too high. But we don’t think it’s realistic to get a cashmere sweater that is really soft and that has embroidery on it that says Favorite Daughter for cheaper than $200, if you’re going to have good quality.”
Businesses worth investing in
Erin: “Bumble was our first venture into tech and into business [outside of] entertainment, and it changed our lives. We can’t deny it on any level. [Founder and CEO] Whitney Wolfe Herd has been such a huge champion of us. And she taught us some really important lessons [about] paying attention to founders that you connect with and paying attention to businesses that speak to you, and putting yourself out there and saying yes to something that feels really intimidating and scary. And she taught us a lot about leaning into our instincts. Whitney is also someone who doesn’t play the game of what you’re ‘supposed to’ do as a company or a founder. If she doesn’t think that guys should be holding guns in photos, then she says, ‘You don’t get to hold a gun in a photo, or else you get kicked off our app. I don’t give a fuck if you like guns or if you’re pro Trump. This is how I feel, and it’s my company.’ And I respect that.… Brynn Putnam, who created the Mirror, is another one. She created something that we wanted in our lives: She created the ability to not have to go to a workout class, if you’re intimidated about working out with other women or you have an excuse every time you have an appointment at the gym. Being able to work out alone at home with your kids in the other room — that was a really huge step for that space. And we were really lucky to be advisors and equity holders of that company. Both companies have had huge exits. But we’re just operating off of our instincts. You look at investing and partnering like any relationship. You have to focus on what it feels like — because we don’t have backgrounds in investments, we didn’t go to college at all. And so we have to focus on what the people we trust tell us is the right fit and what feels like the right fit. And I think if you do anything from that place, you’re going to win more than you lose.”