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How Covid-19 has impacted my start-up brand

Sunny Bird launched Bournemouth-based women’s fashion brand Perfect Dress Company three months ago. She discusses how she is keeping the business going through the coronavirus outbreak. 

When we launched our women’s fashion brand, the Perfect Dress Company, in December 2019, we had no idea how much the world would change in the coming months.

What was initially planned as a year-long mission from concept to launch ended up taking two years as we conducted research through focus groups and surveys, and built a social community to listen to real women’s feedback of what they wanted, and what they thought was missing from other fashion brands.

We spent time working on product development to ensure we were offering something unique: a range of dresses specifically designed to slim and flatter all body shapes. Time was also taken to develop our own unique stretch fabric so that we could offer something new to our audience: dresses that fit them whether they go up or down a size.

We had planned to launch in September 2019, but among the many things that didn’t go to plan were a factory fire and issues with fabric quality that led to delays in manufacturing.

We are taking this time to listen to our customers and community to further improve our brand

Despite our best efforts, we ended up launching the website just two days before Christmas (which wasn’t an ideal time to launch a fashion brand!) and the first shipment of dresses was not arriving until January 2020. We missed out on Christmas party season sales, but our loyal community were quick to purchase dresses as soon as we launched, and we had requests from all over the world.

Perfect Dress Company size 20-22

Perfect Dress Company size 20-22

Three months later in mid-lockdown, sales have understandably dropped dramatically as everyone is tightening their budgets, and not spending on luxuries and clothing. They are only buying essentials. Our dresses are designed for special occasions, date nights, cocktails with friends, weddings and the office – and so are not needed during the lockdown when people are working from home.

Right now, we know we need to change our approach and be adaptable, but we certainly aren’t slowing down behind the scenes. We are taking this time to listen to our customers and community to further improve our brand – for example, we are gathering feedback on the website and user experience of our “select your size” feature, which will change to display models only in your dress size throughout the website.

We are finding out what dress styles our audience prefers and what they would like to see us working on in the future, as well as getting ready to launch our accessories range.

As a result of Covid-19, we’ve had to postpone the launch of our spring 2020 collection and halt production. Fortunately, as our designs are not fast fashion, we have stock that includes timeless classics that can be worn year after year and sold next season.

As a result of Covid-19, we’ve had to postpone the launch of our spring 2020 collection

We are using this time and our platform to continue to enforce our messages of positivity, provide support and empower women to feel the best version of themselves, which is our ethos as a brand.

We’re writing blogs, newsletters and social media posts to share tips on how women can adjust to life at home, raising awareness of women’s issues and helping in any way we can. We are also sharing humour, such as our ambassadors’ TikTok videos in our dresses to help lift spirits, and reaching out to celebrities and influencers for collaborations.

Perfect Dress Company sizes

Our community has been so supportive right from the start and some have even messaged saying they are grateful now more than ever for a dress that fits them whether they go up or down a size – some women are stress eating and putting on weight, while others are doing more home workouts and eating more healthily.

During our journey so far, we’ve faced many challenges along the way. For us this is just another challenge we will get through and come out stronger the other side. I think all fashion brands need to use this time effectively, researching what has worked for them so that they can come out of this with a more insightful strategic approach and, above all, keep positive.

We know we won’t sell many dresses in the next few months, but the time will come again when people want to get dressed up, and we will be ready. 

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • How odd not to name the founder.

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