‘Oh Hey Girl’ founders on community-building, and designing for the ‘gram
In two short years, ‘Oh Hey Girl’ has blossomed from a Depop page into a womenswear brand in its own right, with 220k Insta-fans to suit. The aesthetic is instantly recognisable across Instagram grids, and has been a driving factor in the brands’ success.
WGSN sat down with Jade Douse and Symone Mills, the inspiring female founders, who are busy building a strong brand, and a strong community of like-minded, entrepreneurial women alongside it.
We explore their challenges, the increasing demand for speed-to-market, and how to build deeper relationships with their customer.
How did Oh Hey Girl start out?
J: We have been friends for 12 years now. I started selling clothes on Depop from China (styling them personally, and adding £10 to the price). I started with a cropped puffer jacket, and was quickly selling 40 units a week.
S: My background is working with entrepreneurs as a P.A. I wanted another project, so I went online and learned about marketing, starting businesses and creating passive income streams. At this time Jade was blowing up on Depop, so we decided to join forces – Jade could use her fashion styling skills, and I could use my marketing skills, and we started a business.
J: July 2016, we launched our own site – we’ve just hired our first employee!
Your Instagram following has amassed to 220k in two years, how did you do that?
S: I was looking into paid advertising on Instagram and also took a course on Instagram marketing. Our biggest breakthrough was September 2016, when we really started targeting our customers – we went from £5K sales in August to £30K in September. This is when our influencer marketing started picking up, with the likes of Bella Hadid’s, Kali Uchis’ and Jourdan Dunn’s stylists asking for pieces.
J: We’ve had certain products that have blown up, too. A denim jacket that is also a red hoodie really took off on Instagram.
At WGSN, we have been looking at brands that design products specifically to be instantly recognisable on Instagram. Is this what you are doing?
S: Yes! We’re constantly trying to work towards that, where you see an item on someone you know its ‘Oh Hey Girl’.We love to publish our customers product shots, too, to see our aesthetic coming through.
J: We also have a strong brand image where people recognise the product and the clothing from our actual product images and styling.
S: We are against throwaway fashion, and we aim to get pieces that outlive seasons.
How do you address the increasing speed to market as a small business and what is your supply chain?
S: We have a very short lead time from development to site – it’s a 4-6 week turnaround. Our factories are in China, and storage there too. We have to try and keep speed to customer. We are thinking about bringing stock here and doing next day delivery, but it needs to make sense financially. We work with a small manufacturer in China, so we’re able to make 25-50 pieces.
We do a sample sale of everything of leftover stock, and the rest we gave to charity. We don’t want anything to go into a landfill.
Who is your customer?
S: I attend a lot of marketing and brand-focused courses and seminars, and I’ve learnt to dig deeper into customer profiles, and we’ve realised we have seven different customer profiles. We are trying to reach our customers on a deeper level rather, than a wider level. Influenced by key opinion leaders, like women in work, which is a space we are looking to grow into.
J: Women between the ages of 25-35- who have a bit of disposable income. They’re a bit more established in their careers but they are not senior yet and aspirational. They are ambitious, they care about what they wear. They aren’t buying 10 pound pieces to wear on the weekend, they want something with a bit of edge. They are stylish, but looking for guidance. The way we style our outfits is we are already giving you an outfit to take and wear.
Do you have any physical presence or popups? Or how are you strengthening your relationships with customers.
J: We had our first popup with Wah Nails in Soho, but we’re looking to do more offline events. We also have a blog that lifts up female entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and any working women, and we hope to do workshops and events next year.
S: Women don’t get the platform and shine they deserve. So many of these huge fast fashion retailers are run by men, and so we are trying to counter that.
J: We want to start working with female networking groups. Collaborating is very important and that’s what we want to do next year.
How do you build loyalty in such a tricky/ fickle market?
J: Its very hard because we have been working on gaining new customers and we are now focusing on our current audience.
S: As we enter on our second stage we are looking to build deeper relationships rather than wider ones.
J: We are relatable and that’s our brand, people know they can email us and know they’re speaking to us directly. Our brand name set’s that tone- “Oh Hey Girl” has a whole scene, and invites people in. We are just two young girls who have started a business – we’re so similar to our own customers.
What challenges you are experiencing now?
J: Instagram advertising is getting more expensive. It lowers our ROI, which means it forces our profit margins down.
S: This is why it’s important to understand your customer, and reach them on various platforms. We have grown through social media, but we need to not be so reliant on it. Also cash flow is difficult as a small business. Do we make 100 items or pay credit card bills? We keep lean because of that, and that’s why we don’t have offices. We are going to outsource our marketing next year, so we can focus on strategy.
What is next for Oh Hey Girl?
J: Going into the wholesale market and get into a few stores.
S: Focus more on the community side of what we do, and run some workshops and talks. Community building will help form long-lasting relationships. We want to help women get over fears, or give them the information to start their own businesses and succeed.
J: Once we build a community there is so much more we can do.
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