A New Collection, A New Approach
A shop owner once insisted to me that customers don't care about the inner workings of a luxury brand or business. They don't want to hear about the lows, and they think the mention of the highs is boastful. They want to think they know you, but they don't actually want to know you. You are there only to provide them with a superior shopping experience.
I may be wrong, but I don't believe that's true of the Threads by Nomad customer. Repeat shoppers often inquire as to how business is going, and we get the most feedback on emails and blog posts when we share more than what's new or on sale. They show a vested interest in the success of the business, often volunteering their time and resources. They donate to the causes we support, and they champion those who work with us—Hayder, Atia, Munir, and so many others. They do this because, I believe, they understand that our goal is not to encourage the acquisition of things. Yes, we sell expensive garments, accessories and home goods, but at our core we are about people. We are about sharing wealth and opportunity. We seek to celebrate our differences, and learn from each other. We want to foster creativity, connection, and collaboration. And our customers "get" it. Even when we launched The Off Ramp, our non-profit sister, when we were concerned that the goal and the partnership were perhaps confusing, our customers got it.
I say all of this because this is the first in a series of blog posts and emails about the business decisions we are making, changes that we are undertaking, and why. Topics I want to address include embracing who we are and not succumbing to industry expectations, the reduction of waste, environmental sustainability, and why caring about people is good business. I hope you find this interesting, thought-provoking, and I hope it even begins to change how you see the clothes hanging in your closet.
Today, I want to fill you in on our new approach to the release of collections and what might change as a result. When we launched Threads by Nomad three and a half years ago, I assumed we would adhere to the industry standard of introducing four wide-ranging collections per year—Spring, Pre-Fall, Fall, Resort. Over time, however, this strategy has not exactly worked for us. It generates an unbalanced workflow, requiring Hayder to work overtime as we near the launch of a collection and forcing us to find things for him to make that we may or may not need between seasons. Our cash flow is similarly unreliable; spikes occur in the weeks following the launch of a collection but decline quickly as our customers become distracted. It is increasingly difficult to maintain audience interest in new product for more than a couple of weeks. We might be able to capture attention for longer periods of time if we could produce two to three times the styles in each collection, but we simply don't have the bandwidth to do this. Producing significantly bigger collections would also mean relying on larger companies for the acquisition of fabric instead of commissioning smaller amounts from individual artisans and small businesses.
It was a guest on an industry podcast that I listen to that suggested this was not an appropriate model for small luxury retail businesses. She suggested it forces emerging brands to unnecessarily compete with established empires. She recommended instead—and has had success with—a completely different approach: less product, more often. I knew instantly this was something I wanted to try. I ran the idea by a few people I trust to give me honest feedback over the following weeks, and everyone agreed it made a lot of sense for us.
So, moving forward, we will introduce new product more frequently—approximately every six weeks. These "collections," however, will feature fewer styles and fewer pieces per style. Yes, this means we will likely sell out of sizes and styles more quickly, but this will also cut back on our waste and hopefully increase our narrow margins because we won't have as much product to mark down. Our hope is that this new approach steadies our work and cash flows, sustains our ability to support artisans around the world, captures more consistently the attention of our shoppers, and of course, eventually leads to growth and the hiring of more people and provision of greater opportunities to thrive.
That was a very long lead-up to this: our first "less product, more often" collection is live; you can shop it now on the website. And if you missed out on your size or something is already sold out, know that there will be new and equally beautiful garments popping up in just a few short weeks.
Mom and I started Threads by Nomad with the belief that we could "do business" differently. We haven't stopped believing that, and we are continuously challenging ourselves to question our own assumptions and look for areas of growth. The next time I show up in your inboxes, let's talk about environmental sustainability in fashion. And thank you for joining us on this journey!