Kat The Label unlocks the US fashion market with influencers, localisation and automation
Kate Nixon was a fashion graduate living in Byron Bay when she began experimenting with delicate lace.
It was 2015, and Nixon was looking for ways she could take her talent to the fashion market. She began intertwining the lace with details, fashion and lingerie, creating the stunning designs that would become synonymous with Kat the Label.
Seeing a gap on Instagram for women’s lingerie, Nixon began posting her designs on the platform. Soon, buyers from across the world were approaching Nixon for one of her elegant pieces.
Today, Kat the Label operates in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with over 80,000 Instagram followers eager to purchase one of the label’s fiercely feminine designs.
Find out how Nixon entered the US fashion market using automation, influencers and localisation.
Persistence is key to unlock the US fashion market
Nixon saw a clear profit margin opportunity for Australian businesses selling to a significantly larger US audience in USD. This is an amazing opportunity for business owners looking to increase their margins and will require effective localisation to succeed in their international expansion.
The first step Nixon took to step into the US market was to build the right wholesaler relationships. This process took persistence and patience, as it was over a year of nurturing before Nixon caught her big break.
‘I had a wholesale rep who had amazing store contacts like Revolve who wanted to represent Kat the Label. We’d emailed them for months and shared samples with little response,’ Nixon says. ‘On the final day of my trip in Los Angeles, I emailed Revolve saying that I was in town and asking if they wanted to catch up. Their buyer responded and agreed to meet up - I was flying out that night so I literally took my suitcase to their head office. We met and nurtured the relationship from there.’
Kat The Label’s established Australian brand built confidence in both Nixon and her retailers that their beloved product would succeed in the US. Nixon advises fashion labels to build a strong local brand first before pursuing international expansion for this reason.
Localisation is a ‘make or break’ for fashion companies
Localising Kat the Label’s website for the US has been imperative to making inroads in the country. Nixon split the Kat The Label website for their Australian and US customers. This creates a better customer experience and drives stronger conversion rates.
This dedicated Shopify website for her US audience allowed her to localise:
Currency and pricing to match the US market
Shipping options and timing
Product specifications such as sizes and measurements
Product images with local iconic scenes and models
Seasonal promotions with the different seasons between Australian and the US
Re-marketing for US customers with relevant offers
Once she had her US launch date, Nixon invested in marketing her brand in the US with Los Angeles-based photoshoots: the local scene, local models and local photographers. Nixon says this is important as US customers can be specific about a brand’s image. ‘It helps create this awesome native content like what we had for our website.’
The right influencers can fast track upcoming fashion brands in a new market
Today, Kat the Label has hundreds of passionate influencers ready to promote its products, and Nixon says this is due to carefully selecting each influencer before sending out gifts.
‘You need to check out their page and avoid influencers who might be in it for the freebies, like teeth whitening kits and protein shakes,’ Nixon says. ‘We gift the fashion influencers that genuinely believe in the products they endorse and have an engaged following that we’re wanting to reach.’
Nixon stresses that an influencer will create higher quality content if they are genuinely interested in your brand. Finally, you have to know that the influencers promote your product in a manner that is brand-suitable, as you may accidentally de-value your brand with unsuitable content towards the wrong demographic.
Invest in the right partners and apps to enable international scale while keeping operations lean
Despite Kat the Label’s small team (just Nixon until 2020 and now her operations coordinator), the brand is flourishing due to Nixon’s savvy investment in the right people and apps.
'Initially, I was hesitant about paying for agencies or apps. I wasn’t sure if I would make my money back. However, it’s clear now that these are essential investments to grow the brand and have more than returned its cost.’ Nixon says.
Kat The Label partners with Kate Collinson , an eCommerce consultant who specialises in re-platforming and growth marketing for the Shopify & Shopify Plus platform. In early 2020, Collinson, a longtime fan of the brand, built a business case to relaunch their two Shopify stores to improve the mobile experience. Now, she is now helping spearhead online growth through focuses on online advertising and customer lifecycle marketing.
The team saw enormous growth of over 50,000 email subscribers and revenue by migrating from Mailchimp to the more advanced eCommerce platform Klaviyo that could segment US and Australian audiences.
‘We also incorporated the “Back in Stock” Shopify app which made it easy to notify customers once a particular product is back. This was an easy and automated way to drive sales and not lose potential leads.’
Streamline international payments with Airwallex
Airwallex was another recommendation by Collinson who saw the opportunity to eliminate expensive and unnecessary foreign exchange fees. Nixon was losing money on every international transfer from her retailers and suppliers with her previous payments provider.
Now, Nixon uses Airwallex's international payments to pay her team in the US, suppliers in China and SaaS subscriptions in USD. This has simplified her international payments with faster, on-time payments with minimal fees.
What’s ahead for Kat The Label
Kat the Label is now looking to expand its in-house team and make moves into the European market. This provides Nixon with exciting new business challenges. ‘We just need to figure out the logistics of getting stock from Australia to Europe - there’s quite a lot of barriers we are working out.’
‘We are seeing a rise in orders to Europe, from the Netherlands, France and Italy, so I think this will be the next step overseas - it’s really exciting.’
Are you looking to take your fashion label global but not sure how? Connect with Yvia to find out how Airwallex can make a difference.