Former lifestyle editor and writer Julia Ford-Carther launched Bammies in 2015 with co-founder Rosario Chozas. Bammies, which stands for business + jammies, is built around the idea that busy boss babes need stylish garments that feel as comfy as a favorite pair of pjs. The company aims to make early morning outfit decisions easier through flattering pieces that make women feel instantly at home and confident, no matter what the day holds.
The brand is currently launching their second collection through a second Indiegogo campaign and has put together a special social media giveaway opportunity for PR Couture readers (details at the end of this interview) through June 16.
Title: Co-founder and CEO
What is your background?
I’ve always been an emotional intelligence enthusiast and passionate about female empowerment. Media (in all forms) has always been my vehicle through which I’ve pursued and expressed those passions. I studied communications at Stanford University, and over the past 10 years, shaped a career in lifestyle editorial and brand communications, writing for outlets like Ocean Drive magazine (my most recent staff position before going out on my own in September 2015), Allure, The Huffington Post, and MindBodyGreen.com; and working with brands like Tamara Mellon, Shop Spring, W Hotels, Lacoste and more.
Last year, I also launched SLF Media, a user-engaged media network and digital media platform that delivers modern lifestyle content for millennial women via entertaining and empowering channels, and it has now been incorporated into the Bammies online experience.
Throughout all of this, I’ve harbored a secret thing for fashion, ever since I was casually sketching purse designs in grade school. To me, fashion is another form of communication. The stars aligned and I met my co-founder, Rosario Chozas, in January 2015 at a women in tech community engagement event that she produced, and where I was the moderator for the panel on the power of social media influence. We hit it off, grabbed coffee the next week and she told me about her idea for Bammies. I was instantly on board and we incorporated our business in July 2015. This is hands down my dream job.
What is the biggest benefit of PR (vs other forms of promotion) for Bammies?
Customer confidence. It’s no secret that buyers shop from sources they trust. So when a media outlet, blogger, or influencer that a potential customer trusts organically endorses our line by writing a piece about Bammies or raving about it on social media, it gives that potential customer confidence in our brand. It’s a result that doesn’t necessarily translate via a digital ad or brand-generated communications.
To me, fashion is another form of communication.
What does PR look like for Bammies, right now?
Right now, our core team consists of my co-founder Rosario Chozas and myself, and we’re managing PR in-house. At this point in the development of our business, keeping PR in-house allows us to closely monitor feedback loops and quality control all brand communications. We learn so much every day about our customer and brand placement in the market that we like to be intricately involved in this process.
When we first launched, we received a significant amount of national and local (South Florida) media coverage from outlets like Mashable, Entrepreneur, Fast Company Co.Design, Fox & Friends, and Racked Miami, which was AMAZING. I’d consider this our recent PR success story — it confirmed that what we were up to was noteworthy and timely, and it resonated with a large audience. It definitely gave us even more motivation to keep going with our idea.
Considering the Bammies story appeals to so many types of media — fashion, career, mommy, Gen Y, design, women in business, etc. — and we’re a small team, we tend to focus efforts on one or two areas at a time. Now we’re looking more into lifestyle media opportunities — specifically fashion and career, including plus-size lifestyle since we recently extended our size run. We’re very focused on developing relationships with what we call our “Everyday Advocates,” the women who are influencers in their community (both digital and offline) and communicate that influence through media in various forms (outlets, blog, social media, public appearances, etc.). Given my background as a lifestyle editor, I understand how powerful a press mention can be if the writer/editor/blogger absolutely believes in what she’s covering.
This is what we look for when considering who to reach out to about Bammies.
- Will she get it?
- Does this fit into her life?
- What would she want to see us do differently?
- What is she most concerned about when it comes to getting dressed?
We also actively bring bloggers and media into the conversation and ask for their feedback about our branding and styles. So it really is about developing relationships.
Why did you choose to fund via crowdsourcing? What are 3 things fashion brands should understand before considering this approach?
Since we are bootstrapped and self-funded, we initially launched our first collection in January on a 30-day pre-sale to raise funds to go into production. We experienced such success with support from our community and the press that we hit our pre-sale reserve only two weeks into our launch.
We wanted to recreate that successful model with a larger, like-minded community for our Collection 02 launch. When Indiegogo reached out to us about an opportunity to host our launch on their platform, we considered their readership (it skews female) and emphasis on social impact, which aligned with our female empowerment brand message.
We’re huge on including our customers and fans in our process and love getting feedback from them, and we felt a crowdsourcing campaign could help us open a communications exchange with even more women.
For other brands considering crowdsourcing, I’d advise the following:
- Determine whether your target customer shops for products like yours on the crowdfunding platform you’ve chosen.
- Less is more. Set your goal for the minimum amount truly necessary to achieve your business objective. The crowd responds to campaigns that look like runaway successes, so meeting your goal quickly (or exceeding it) plays really well and helps create even more momentum.
- Treat your crowdfunding campaign like its own marketing initiative. Have a budget to promote it, have a dedicated marketing strategy, plan ahead and put systems in place well in advance so that once you launch, you can easily amplify results rather than playing catchup to keep the momentum going.
Why should every PR Girl have Bammies in her closet?
Oh, so many reasons.
As a PR Girl, you’re in the business of image and communications, and so, in addition to managing communications for your clients, you want to be communicating the right message about yourself at all times. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t dress in a way that’s reflective of your authentic self and style (after all, you are an extension of your business).
Style is part of your personal and professional brand message, so it should be reflective of you and what you represent in business. But you’re busy, you’re on the go, you have a thousand things you’re juggling at once, and deciding what to wear every day shouldn’t take up a ton of your time. That’s why Bammies is all about minimizing decision fatigue for women in the mornings.
As a PR Girl, you’re in the business of image and communications, and so, in addition to managing communications for your clients, you want to be communicating the right message about yourself at all times.
When you’re comfortable, you’re confident. When you look good, you’re confident. You can quickly choose a Bammies item, throw it on, style it with another Bammies piece or other staples in your closet, and not have to worry about the message you’re sending throughout the day whether you’re at a business meeting, a Bumble lunch date, or a happy hour networking event. You’ll never be pulling at a too-tight waistband, straightening a pencil skirt gone rogue, or fiddling with a peekaboo button-down blouse. It’s fast, it’s chic, it’s comfy and it’s reflective of you.
To enter the #PRCouturexBammies Giveaway, do any/all of the following:
- Follow Bammies on Twitter @Bammieslife and share the Indiegogo campaign link.
- Follow Bammies on Instagram @Bammies.life and repost the giveaway image currently on the @prcouture Instagram account. Include the campaign link in your caption
- Share the Indiegogo campaign link on Facebook
Tag all your posts with #PRCouturexBammies to be counted.
Campaign Link: https://igg.me/at/bammies/
Winner will be determined by the most combined likes per post(s) across all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and will be awarded 1 item of choice from Bammies Collection 02. May enter more than once (aka, post multiple tweets/Instagrams/Facebook posts). Only posts containing #PRCouturexBammies will be counted.
Giveaway ends Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST