- Aimee Smale’s Odd Muse fashion label generated $139,000 in sales in its first three months.
- She’d worked as an assistant buyer for more than a year while she saved money and learned the ropes.
- She told Insider the five steps she took to make the business a success.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Aimee Smale, 24, approved the sample of what would be her brand’s best-selling blazer in November 2019. She had saved £10,000 ($13,900) as an initial investment for her business.
But soon the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and she didn’t pluck up the courage to quit her job as an assistant buyer at the online fashion retailer Asos until the following July. She launched her clothing line, Odd Muse, in September.
The first three months were eventful. In October, Smale publicly accused fast-fashion brands of replicating the design of her blazer. She said the publicity generated hundreds of extra orders.
In December, Smale was among the designers profiled in British Vogue. Within three months of launching, the business had generated £100,000 ($139,000) in sales, data provided to Insider shows.
Smale broke down the five steps she took to make the business a success.
She took a risk early on
Smale launched her business in September, armed with 100 blazers that she planned to sell over 12 weeks. But the brand’s launch attracted more attention than anticipated, and they sold out after just four.
To avoid losing the growing momentum, Smale told Insider she decided to order 500 more blazers; despite not having the money to cover such an order, which would take four weeks to manufacture.
Smale told Insider put the order on sale, even though it hadn’t yet been manufactured and wasn’t ready to ship, to earn the money to cover the manufacturing costs. The day Odd Muse launched the sale — October 15 — the brand took £38,000 ($52,925).
Those orders generated enough for Smale to cover the manufacturing costs.
“I weighed up my risks, and it came down to losing money and having to find a new job if it didn’t work out. That didn’t scare me as much as remaining in my current situation,” she added.
She figured out Odd Muse’s unique selling point
Odd Muse is not cheap. Its signature blazer sells for £135 ($187).
Before Smale started the business, she spent a year trying to figure out its unique selling point in a crowded market. She decided she wanted to create a brand that was “challenging younger women to invest their money” in clothing rather than the faster and cheaper but more disposable alternatives.
Odd Muse’s slogan is “timeless style and quality designed to last.” Smale said that idea is “at the forefront of everything we design.”
She immersed herself in the industry before she took the leap
“I knew from early on I was going to leave Asos one day and start my own business, so every day I went to work with the idea that I am there to learn,” Smale said.
She said her time at Asos meant she was able to understand the logistics of launching a fashion brand.
While working full-time, she did “everything outside of manufacturing my stock” that she would need for her business, including creating the designs, branding, and marketing plan, as well as building the website.
“I know as my business expands, I will confidently understand each area,” Smale said.
She tried to be transparent when she found running a business intimidating.
Being a business owner “can be intimidating when you don’t know everything,” Smale said.
To combat this feeling, Smale has tried to be transparent going on Instagram, where she posts each day, to “just chat” and answer questions from the brand’s followers.
She told Insider she doesn’t try to make her running of the business seem more sophisticated than it is and that this has created an authenticity that resonates with her customers, with whom she tries to create a sense of community on social media.
But Smale added that, for this transparency to be meaningful, she had to answer difficult questions. In one Q&A, she explained why Odd Muse was not using the “pay in three” method, promoted by the financial-services company Klarna, that lets people pay in instalments.
She told her followers she felt this could lock customers into a “buy-and-regret cycle” and said she preferred people pay within 30 days of ordering, giving them time to return products they didn’t like.
She invested time to learn what makes a good marketing strategy.
“We are living in a time where resources are readily available to us; we can pick up a laptop and learn anything,” Smale said.
Though she previously ran a small marketing business while she worked at Asos, she said beginners can take advantage of YouTube, whose videos she still uses to improve her knowledge of paid social ads.
She listed the three cornerstones of a marketing strategy as “a strong brand identity, a strong brand story, and strong content.”