Sudara is primarily a loungewear company known for their comfortable and chic PUNJAMMIES, tees and robes for men, women and children; every product made helps a woman remain free from the sex trafficking industry.
In 2005, Sudara founder Shannon Keith took a trip to India that opened her eyes to a tragedy occurring daily to women and girls throughout the country — modern day slavery. Since its inception, Sudara has has employed more than 300 women through sewing center partnerships throughout India. All efforts support the the brand’s mantra that “No human being should be owned by anyone, anywhere, for any reason- ever. It really is that simple.”
Having been lucky enough to work with Sudara, I connected with Lindsey Thomas, Sales and Marketing Manager at Sudara.org to find out the latest.
How did you get started in the industry?
My start in the industry happened after I left fashion school to finish a degree in business. Soon after starting my degree I ended up landing a job in the fashion industry working with an Italian shoe brand opening its first flagship store in Portland, Oregon. The decision to take this position and work with a company that puts heart and souls into its brand was my first glimpse into how a successful fashion business can operate. Transparency and honesty are two things I seek out and celebrate in this industry. It’s possible to be up front and open with customers, and at Sudara we celebrate and live this value!
What are your big communication goals right now?
Our communication goals for 2016 align directly with our cause for freedom. We are striving to create more awareness and gain more support for the women in India. To do this we continuously evaluate the way we communicate and provide information or resources on the company to our followers. Ensuring accessibility of information and backing up what we say with what we do is a key factor in the success of our communications. One more important goal is to show that social good organizations like us are capable and needed to resolve issues and create a better world.
What are a few of your key marketing messages?
We are a benefit corporation, which means we are a mission-driven business and use the power of business to do social good. For us, this means we work with local partners in India to create jobs for women to provide them with a pathway out of sex slavery and provide benefits such as safe housing, wellness care, access to education for their children, and job placement services. We love to share our story on social media as well as our blog, but we are even more passionate about sharing the stories of hope and freedom of the women who are now employed at the sewing centers.
How is your communication/marketing department organized?
We wish we had a department! We are currently a small team with an all hands on deck mentality. One person is dedicated to sales and marketing full time, and then we have a mix of experts in communications and social media who work part time and on a volunteer basis to fill those needs for us.
Looking over the past year, what are you most proud of?
Sudara has seen incredible growth on social media, sales and website views. The company has launched new product offerings, like men’s and children’s products, and gorgeous robes which are now one of our bestsellers. New prints have captured the attention of editors at some of the most fashionable outlets like WhoWhatWear, Vogue and Elle Magazine.
What role did PR play, if any, in these achievements?
The primary purpose of PR/Marketing for the Sudara Brand is to spread the right kind awareness and share the stories of all the women in India who have found and continue to find their freedom by learning job skills, gaining empowerment, and reinvesting in their economy.
PR helps immensely by increasing awareness and gaining support for the cause of freedom. As a former buyer, I discovered Sudara by reading about the brand.
What has been the most powerful piece of media coverage received recently? What made it so remarkable?
Having our founder and CEO, Shannon Keith, share our story, talk about like-minded brands working to fight human trafficking, or discuss ways for people to get involved has always been very powerful. Through these pieces, we hear from people who are excited about the cause and how they can help. These articles drive traffic to the website and to our social sites, but we’ve also found that it helps spread our message via word of mouth and conversations between friends (e.g., “I read this article and you should, too…”)
How else do you reach your target audiences?
We are able to reach our target audience through various social channels as well as conferences and word of mouth. However, one of our biggest challenges is the balance between showing the beauty of our products through images, our website and wholesale purchases, and telling the story of why we exist and the cause behind every purchase.
We try to balance this the most on the blog/website and through social. You can see beautiful images of our products that celebrate freedom on our Instagram account, and you can read stories of the women who make the products and learn more about the cause on our Instagram and blog. Here is one story of a woman, Soyamma, that we always find especially powerful because of how she chose to come back to the center and donate a percentage of her first paycheck to it; she wanted to be able to help even more women live in free from sex slavery. Being able to share these stories and get customers to realize that, yes, these are beautiful loungewear and products AND there is a story behind every print is a challenge, but one that we gladly take on each day.
Being able to share these stories and get customers to realize that, yes, these are beautiful loungewear and products AND there is a story behind every print is a challenge, but one that we gladly take on each day.
What social media platforms do you invest in and why?
The Sudara brand participates in most forms of social media. We choose to use the social media platforms that best fit our customers interfacing and purchasing our products. We have found that Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are the best platforms for our audience, however we choose to spend 98% of our online budget with Facebook. We were recently featured in a Facebook business article discussing our success on their platform, in which we saw a 10% increase in sales and a 44% decrease in ad spend.
What are you excited about lately?
Lately we’ve been very excited to see the expansion of socially conscious companies and the success they’re finding in the market. Consumers today have become more aware of the impact their purchases have on the world. There are so many people out there that deserve more opportunity and accessibility to obtain the knowledge and skills many of us take for granted.
Here at Sudara we are standing up as a company that cares about our impact in every aspect of our business. We have found success from the heart of a belief that slavery should never happen, bottom line! To see other companies combating this type of social injustice and consumers taking a stand in support of these beliefs and causes has been one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in the fashion industry, period.
About Kristen Conahan
Kristen is a style blogger at Style Wax Poetic and freelance publicist working with various fashion and social impact accounts clients.As a blogger, Kristen has been asked to host events at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus and has been featured on numerous publications and brand’s websites including Banana Republic, Racked.com, PopSugar.com, Boohoo.com, Lack of Colours, Beauty Collection, StyleSpotters and more and has collaborated on various brand campaigns including Target, DSW, Banana Republic, HP, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Starbucks and Jockey to name a few. When working as a publicist, Kristen enjoys helping companies thrive and specializes in smaller accounts that are working to gain attention and brand awareness through PR.