I’ve always thought that the most successful people are the ones who are deeply invested and passionate about their work. You may think that sounds trite, but in a day and age where everyone has a platform and a voice, it’s easy to find yourself doing things you think you should be doing rather than the things you want to be doing. That means that a lot of creative sparks are never unearthed or worse, pushed to the side so you can concentrate on ‘real life’, ultimately surrendering your time and energy to something that inherently feels a little off. The proof in the pudding is Anine Bing—a woman so enthusiastic about her work that spending time with her begs you to question whether your work has the same effect on you.
After the birth of her first daughter, Anine found herself at home blogging but feeling unfulfilled with her productivity. One day, home alone, she decided to sell some of her old clothes online. She spent time styling outfits, photographing the pieces and within an hour of putting everything up, her collection had sold out. “That day was when we realized there was a real opportunity there, and we made it start happening that same week,” says Anine of the fast trajectory that ensued. “We realized people really like my style and we could do something with that.” She created a plan that night and launched a website the next day.
Stepping away from her own personal brand to focus on her eponymous line has been a difficult task but one that is now coming full circle. Anine Bing’s success lies in its ‘buy now, wear now’ business model and enlisting fellow influencers, celebrities and bloggers to partner with only accelerates the business. “I’m always thinking about pushing the brand forward,” Anine says. “Once we started the brand, my past as an influencer became that. It’s all really cool, but also so hard to separate the lines—that’s what we’re trying to focus on now.”
It was when I had just had my first child, my daughter Bianca and we had moved back to Sweden, from LA, to be close to family. I was already blogging at the time, but when my husband Nico would go to work I was home alone all day and was like, “I want to do something for myself – I think I’m going to put some of my old clothes online and try to sell them.” I called him that morning and told him I was going to do it. I took everything out, was styling it and holding it up to the right light, having so much fun. After an hour of putting everything up, it all sold out. Everything! It was surreal. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I called my husband, and he was like, “if people are that interested in your old clothes, why don’t we give them something new to wear.” He was already working in clothing production – that is what he does. That day was when we realized there was a real opportunity there, and we made it start happening that same week. It was exciting and fun. It wasn’t about money, it was more that we realized people really like my style and we could do something with that.
FROM IDEA TO EXECUTION
After we saw the success from selling my personal clothes online, we made a plan that night and created a website the next day – we acted fast because we were so excited to see where this could go. We called our friend Emma (who originally introduced us) and asked her to come on board to help us with some of the graphics and creative for the website. Everything happened so fast, within weeks… That’s how we are – when we decide something we just go for it. We then decided to move back to LA and from there, started working out of our tiny garage in Silverlake. It was just me and Nicolai for the first few months until we could afford to hire one more person, then one more and so on. Today we are close to 40 at our LA office. Roles weren’t clearly defined at that point, because we were all wearing so many hats and crossing over into different areas of the business to just get things done. It’s so cool to see your company grow little by little – it makes working hard not feel so “hard” – because you’re personally invested in a project that feels so close to you. We couldn’t have done it without our little team in the early days, and we’re still so proud of the people who work for us.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE ANINE BING TEAM
I’m obsessed with our team. I smile so big when I come into the office! It sounds cheesy but it’s true. We have different teams – e-comm, creative, design, production, sales, finance, marketing & PR. I feel proud of the balance we’ve created within our company. There’s so much more to do and we have super big goals and are always looking years ahead – we just had this motivational speaker come in for a company day and we all talked about growth and breaking out of patterns that limit your potential. It was so fun. We’ll never stop evolving—there’s so much to learn and do – but we have hired really good people to support those goals and we just always want to make them feel happy and excited to come to work. We have an amazing COO and while I focus more on design & relationships and brand building, she and my husband Nico do more internal operations. They’re such good leaders and I am always learning from them. Culture is very important to us – we started out as a little family in our garage in Silverlake and we want to keep that same vibe always, even as we expand.
ON BEING A BUY NOW, WEAR NOW BUSINESS FROM THE START
I had been blogging for a while, which is very immediate – whatever you’re wearing, the girls on social media want to buy right then. It’s how I am too. Everything is now now now. I could see that customer didn’t want to have to wait six months to wear something I was wearing. So I decided to make my collection season-less and have a monthly collection where we release a couple of new pieces each week. It keeps it exciting for the customer. She wants fresh styles and options, and we design ours to be timeless but very current too. It’s the way of the future.
It’s not pieces that only celebrities can afford. Quality is so important to us; we use 100% leather, 100% silk and we source beautiful fabrics but our price point is something women can afford to invest in. Maybe she saves up for a month but she knows that her Anine Bing leather jacket, lace lingerie, statement boots and vintage denim are going to last and make her feel super confident and amazing. We focus on detail and design for that luxe look that’s still within reach.
HER CREATIVE PROCESS
We have four seasons that are broken down and each month gets its own group of styles that relate to one another and tell their own story. It’s like three stories per season… for example, a leather goods story, or shoes and bags that tie together, or a cashmere story with winter accessories like beanies, gloves and sweaters. Basically, each season has its own little capsules within. Before each season starts we research, looking at vintage styles and fabrics at flea markets and then also digital research. We take inspiration from everything from music to art, to album covers or a pink velvet couch. We create a new girl for each season and ask ourselves: what does the Anine Bing girl look like in Spring? Then we decide colours. We look at what my muses wear in those seasons, too like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. I love older references but we also look at what’s happening now. Then we pick and source all our fabrics. They’re all made in Istanbul but we source and swatch certain things in L.A. and send the things we like to Turkey and they send us back what’s available for production. Since we do “buy now wear now,” it has to move fast. After fabrics are sourced, we start drawing. We draw all of our samples and then send them to be made before doing fittings and styling with our fit model, to see what’s going to make it in the collection.
THE OPPORTUNITIS & CHALLENGES OF PRODUCING SO MANY COLLECTIONS EACH YEAR
It is a lot. The challenges are always thinking ahead while you’re in the middle of production for current collections. We’re designing six months ahead but producing a current collection in real time, so unlike traditional models, we don’t spend 6 months concepting, – while we are concepting, there’s also a collection coming out each month. Our challenge is also our strength. The opportunity is the immediacy of the “buy now wear now.” What I’m wearing is always what’s available – we already have production done so girls can buy it that same week.
WORKING WITH FELLOW INFLUENCERS AND CELEBRITIES
I have so many relationships, just from having had the brand for five years and going to events and making friends and those girls organically wearing our clothes. Bloggers often sell more pieces than even big celebrities I think because real women just feel like they can relate more to them more than a movie star. But my amazing PR team also thinks strategically about girls who make sense. Sometimes I come across them just at a party or in my social media, but it’s also part of their job to say, “I think so and so would be a great Anine Bing muse,” and pitch them to me to build the relationship. They’re super cool girls who I love as soon as we meet and they’re excited about the brand too. Women supporting women – we’re all about that at our company.
Ecommerce is so important because it reaches a wider audience, but when you walk into our stores, we bring the brand to life. Customers are walking into the complete experience of our brand story, which is so important. There are white roses and Swedish candy, our Savage Rose candle burning, black and white photography that is in my own home, Turkish rugs that are also in my home that I have always had a love for. They are all design details that span beyond just the clothing and collection, that bring the brand to life. We also are thinking about the next thing we want to do. We have so many projects in the works and I definitely want to open a couple more stores in LA and New York, and would love to open one in my home territory of Copenhagen soon. All in due time.
BALANCING BEING AN INFLUENCER & A FOUNDER
I am always thinking about pushing the brand forward. Once we started the brand, my past as an influencer became that. It’s amazing to have this personal side to the brand and I get to wear all my favourite pieces and show girls how I’m wearing them in my real life and make that part of the work. It’s all really cool but also so hard to separate the lines. And that’s what we’re trying to focus on now.
I am the name of the brand. I am the Chief Creative Officer so I envision the pieces and see them through to production and am super involved with everything creative, along with our Creative Director. We have so many amazing people helping us to take a piece from an idea in my mind to stores online and around the world. It’s just hard to make that separation from who you are as a person and the brand. We just launched a brand official account, which is so exciting, and we’re growing it. Before I shared everything on my personal account. I love sharing things about my kids and what me and my husband do on our weekends and things like that, so we’re trying to find more of that separation. It’s definitely been a challenge.
ON EXPANDING INTO FRAGRANCE
It was just time! We wanted to feel super established in doing what we do with clothing and footwear and jewellery, before we expanded into new categories. Our clothing brand started five years ago so we have had the time to improve, learn and make our mark and grow. We do want to grow our lifestyle brand and we have some exciting projects coming up for 2018.
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