July 29, 2019 | News | No Comments
The Undone’s Sara Crampton. Image credits: supplied
Of the original fashion bloggers, Harper and Harley’s Sara Crampton (née Donaldson), is one of Australia’s best known and most followed, boasting over 562k followers on her Harper and Harley/personal Instagram account plus another 75k on her online fashion site, The Undone’s, account.
And given the engagement of her followers — a recent post announcing that she’s pregnant with her first child to husband Richard Crampton was liked and/or commented on by more than 37k people — Crampton has built the kind of social media presence the equal of only a very small handful of fashion influencers.
What’s noteworthy about this is that Crampton’s aesthetic is neutral-hued minimalist. A look maximalists and colour-lovers are not typically drawn to, but somehow, through Crampton’s social media-savvy lens, it’s universally appealing. In fact, it’s so appealing she has made a very successful business out of it through her online fashion store, The Undone, which is celebrating its third birthday this month.
Speaking to over email from her home base in Sydney, Crampton shares how fashion impacts her self-esteem, building her online fashion business, and of course, how to take engaging photos for Instagram.
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When did you first fall in love with minimalist fashion?
“I fell in love with fashion in my late teens, watching and absorbing all the show coverage via . Minimalism came much later, after being in the blogging industry and after seeing firsthand the overwhelming street style scene during one particular New York Fashion Week experience, where more was more, it solidified that that particular way of dressing wasn’t for me.
Once I started to become more aware with how clothes made me feel, it was the classic, minimal pieces that I was drawn to. They had an incredible impact on my self-esteem as I realised I felt far more confident when I was wearing clothes that weren’t colourful and had a more timeless aesthetic.”
Please share what led you to launching The Undone.
“I launched The Undone in July of 2016 after trawling through other online stores trying to find pieces that matched my minimal style and realised there was a gap in the market for stores that catered to specific personal styles, in particular a minimal aesthetic. With my previous experience being in digital and e-commerce, and with a genuine interest in this space, launching an e-comm store wasn’t too out of my comfort zone and seemed like a natural career progression.”
How did you go about launching The Undone?
“It took about nine months to set up the business, build the site, organise logistics, internal processes and test before launch. I also had to buy two seasons of stock before launch, which was incredibly difficult, and I made a few mistakes during this period, as we had no customer data to base our buy off. If I had my time again, this is something I would have approached differently.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced launching the business and how did you overcome them?
“Firstly, not having any data to go off to assist in making the right decisions, and secondly the financial investment of this process is enormous and it was a significant portion of our starting capital.
Learning quickly what our customer wanted was critical, and within the first 18 months we had to let go of some of our initial brands because they simply weren’t converting, adjust our pricing strategy as well as key category strategies.
The seasonality of fashion retail is also incredibly challenging as you have a very small window to turn over the stock that you buy. Customers are then taught to expect newness almost weekly, and are also expecting free and fast shipping as well as a never ending flow of discounts and sales.
From the beginning, we didn’t want to be known as a sale site. We try to educate our customers that the pieces we offer are timeless, so in theory, they shouldn’t really go on sale, except for the key calendar sales. Educating our customers and building our brand story around slow and thoughtful consumption is really important to us. However, we’re in this for the long game, and investing in the repeat customer, and building trust through mutual core values is key.”
How did you go about funding The Undone?
“The Undone was started with personal savings and no outside investment. It’s been a real focus to take it slow, do it right and last the distance. I listen to a lot of podcasts and to be honest, the VC accelerated growth and A, B, C seed funding isn’t something that appeals to me. I really believe that it’s ok to grow slow, to focus on doing things right, to know your customer, to be your customer. I want The Undone to last the distance.”
Your Instagram images are always beautifully shot, can you share any tips for taking good photographs for social media?
“Natural, warm light is important when we’re creating content. They need to be engaging and real life imagery is better than over produced campaign imagery. The imagery needs to capture the imagination of the customer, so they can imagine themselves in that item and feel the need to add it to their wardrobe.”
What advice would you give to a budding fashion innovator looking to start an online fashion business?
“Take the initial set up slowly and do it right. In the beginning you can be really excited and you just want to get things started, but taking the time to think things over and doing the research and due diligence will save you a lot of stress in the long term.”