You may recognize the name Madeline Veenstra as the founder of WikiFashion, which is, as it sounds, a sort of Wikipedia for the fashion industry. Her latest project is Popbasic, a selection of micro-collections that can be ordered monthly. Officially launched just this Monday, the idea was originally aimed at an Australian audience (Madeline is Australian) but had so much early interest from US and Canada that she relocated to San Francisco to take advantage of the startup culture and launch to a worldwide audience. While she had the idea in April, 2012, "it waas a long process of finding the right manufacturers to create our collections and also the best companies to partner with for our beta launch."
The first beta collection was designed by Madeline, and features a polka dot blouse and two necklaces, and is available for $65 and shipping is free worldwide. The package also includes a a gift from Tatcha Cosmetics and Dear Kate lingerie, part of Madeline's plan to partner "with beauty and lifestyle companies to add a little surprise for each customer. We don't want to flood our customers with even more beauty samples, we only ever include one beauty or lifestyle surprise as a showcase." The next two collections are in production, and while the initial sets are created by our manufacturers in China, Popbasic is looking to produce some pieces in LA or Europe.
For our initial collection, we've only released a few hundred to test the concept. Without any marketing or advertising, we almost sold out within our first few days. The process was very long and consumed most of my time for the last eight months. I worked with close to 50 factories to find the best and to ensure that they really understood our concept.
Unlike many of the subscription services popping up, Popbasic doesn't lock customers into recurring purchases. Instead, Madeline explains, "We are pioneering the concept of micro collections purchased as a set. I think in particular for fashion, it's [not a good idea] to lock customers into something they may not necessarily like. I saw a lot of fashion services that target personal styling, but none that were creating their own brand." Popbasic aims for a tech-savvy customer, 18-30. Much of the initial interest came from fashion and beauty bloggers, no double spurred by Madeline's own relationships and credibility through Wikifashion.
Staying true to her audience, Popbasic leveraged the pre-launch community by encouraging them to style the collection, resulting in 100 entries prior to launch. Those who participated them shared their Polyvore sets via social media and blogs which helped to drive 3,000 sign ups ahead of launch. The Style Guides are also featured on the site with a link back to the blogger who created it. A launch video and media outreach rounded out the launch strategy and resulted in coverage in Shop Til You Drop, the highest circulated women's fashion magazine magazine in Australia.
With launch week in full swing, Madeline notes that Popbasic will "continue to work with fashion and beauty bloggers, as well as introduce a loyalty program and credit system. It's also really important to me that our customers enjoy the entire process and that I'm there to help them whenever they need it. I think really good customer service is often over looked, for us it's going to be something that we really focus on going forward."
Madeline's unique connection to both an Australian and North American audience certainly has it's perks. For example the next collection features an Australian beauty brand that US customers have likely yet to discover, but Madeline assures, we will love.
Sounds good to me!