Have someone in charge of marketing and graphics. This way everything is aligned.
Find a handful of lifestyle and studio photographers to work with — photos are very important!
Have capital and be comfortable spending it! You can’t make money if you don’t spend money. I can’t tell you how many times people are cheap when they start out. You will never make money if you don’t spend any.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Raab, an artist and jack of all trades. She has worked as a full-time Graphic Designer and part time Printer and Photographer for over two decades, having previously owned a one-stop print and design firm in Savannah, Georgia. After a move to Miami, Raab was looking to get away from the print industry. Her newfound passion for yoga & her love of Harem Pants presented a superb mix for a new lifestyle business venture, Buddha Pants. Raab now resides in Fort Lauderdale with her husband Richard and two kids. They have a 2.000 Sq Ft distribution center and warehouse.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I was born in the early 80s. I grew up in Canada until my father’s engineering company moved to central Florida in the early 90s. I’m the eldest of three. My father is an inventor and engineer and my mother is a nurse and also world renown author.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I graduated from SCAD (Savannah College of art and design) in Georgia around 2006. I went on and pursued what I had learned and opened up a graphic design and print studio. We were open for six years until I decided it was no longer what I wanted to do. I moved to Miami Beach, Florida with no plan. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I’ve always loved sales. My parents constantly reminded me that I was always selling lemonade or making jewelry and standing out by the street trying to sell when I was not even 10 years old.
During this time I had uncovered a love for yoga. Baggy pants were always my clothing of choice for my practice (and even everyday attire) but I could never find well-made ones. They would always fall apart on me and never have pockets! I decided to make something that I wanted and needed. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was looking for these!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we first started shipping our products we would maybe get 5 to 10 sales a week. It was a really exciting time for us. At that time, the big movement towards going green had started. We wanted to eliminate single use packaging — so we used a cotton bag and sewed the labels on them to avoid any packing tape or one time use packaging. It was quite ‘hippy-dippy’ looking and the labor was obviously not sustainable. I think at the time the USPS clerks were giving us a hard time about it too!
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
A couple of years ago I read a book about Shopify e-commerce stores. Shopify is a Canadian multinational e-commerce company with headquarters in Ontario. They’re basically a one stop shop to run your e-commerce store. But they also act as your marketing advisers and they plug-in to over 5000 different applications. At the time the book was telling me different things to do to get up and running such as adding SEO to your products, finding good photography etc. It’s a constant challenge and upkeep to keep the site alive and that book was really inspiring. It’s crazy how many things the platform has added over just the past few years.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you don’t make time for your health, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” It’s always been a battle for me to find a balance between work and exercise. I truly love working — sometimes it can be very addictive to get ‘just one more thing done’ or inventory one more box or upload one more picture. I’ve had to force myself to not go into the office some days or leave early and care for my health. It does make the work I do stronger! When I don’t exercise or take time for myself I don’t find my work ethic is as strong or my designs as exuberant.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
A lifestyle brand to us has a personality. We consider Buddha Pants, fun, jumpy, loving and healthy. While we cater most to the Yoga community, we’ve seen customers from all walks of life purchase our pants.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
I think it makes it easier to stay on track and focused with your marketing and designs when you have a personality for the brand and a personal level of connection.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Pura Vida bracelets — everything they do is perfect. They keep up with their store, all their products are perfectly photographed, and they work with just the right amount of influencers. All of her email marketing is directly to the point.
I think having someone in charge of specific departments is one way to replicate this sort of perfection.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
I think the only way to start a lifestyle brand it is to produce something that you are completely passionate about. It will be very difficult to sell something that you’re not in love with. As the saying goes, when you can do this, “you’ll never work a day in your life.”
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
I think in order to start a lifestyle brand you literally have to eat, sleep, and poop the brand. You can’t really do anything else. You have to focus really hard for six months to get it off the ground. I see a lot of people starting brands but they work on it here in there and it ends up taking two or three years to launch and sometimes never even happens. Another mistake I’ve also seen a lot is organization and product photography. These things are very important!
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Research to see who your competitors are. Purchase the domain name immediately. Secure a manufacturer and start working on logo design and your creative property.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Find someone to manage all your customer service. I personally managed all the customer service for the first three years and thought I could do it forever. It simply is not sustainable to do customer service as a founder and manager of your own business if you want to scale.
2. Have someone in charge of marketing and graphics. This way everything is aligned.
3. Find a handful of lifestyle and studio photographers to work with — photos are very important!
4. Have capital and be comfortable spending it! You can’t make money if you don’t spend money. I can’t tell you how many times people are cheap when they start out. You will never make money if you don’t spend any.
5. Make time for yourself and remember to make time for fun.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to continue to inspire people to go after what they want to make or sell. I love giving feedback about logos and website design and helping people eliminate what is not working and adding things that can convert to more sales.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.