How digital marketing helps silk shirt maker The Fable earn $4.5 million a year

How digital marketing helps silk shirt maker The Fable earn $4.5 million a year

It all started with a founder’s vision to create the ultimate and timeless silk shirt that ticked all the boxes. Now almost nine years after launching, Australian clothing brand The Fable has sold more than 150,000 of its silk shirts and is turning over $4.5 million per year. The Fable’s Sydney-based founder Sophie Doyle launched the business in October 2015 after leaving her job at L’Oreal Luxury in Melbourne at the end of 2014 for a new journey. Doyle lived in an Indian yoga ashram in the Himalayas before a series of chance encounters led her to a textile factory and what she saw there convinced her to embark on a goal that would change her life — creating The Silk Shirt. Today, The Fable is available through The Iconic and will be rolling into boutiques in 2024. Doyle told SmartCompany that honestly while she did and does believe in her idea, she had no idea that it would go as well as it did.  “I am thrilled because I am really proud of the product and we have 55% repeat buyers, which tells me we are doing something right,” she says. “Silk shirts are timeless, elegant and trans-seasonal, therefore they are good value for money. You can pair it with jeans and flats to do the groceries, heels and a blazer for work, and a shirt and chunky necklace for dinner. “There are so many ways that you can style them up, that you also don’t really need to worry about wearing the same item again and again. “My goal was to create a product that people would wear again and again, and then when they want a new colour, they come back to me because they know the product was made to last.” Doyle said running The Fable with a toddler and another baby on the way has been a process, that’s for sure. “But in all seriousness, I used to be in marketing for a luxury beauty brand, so I am used to creating and following processes and systems,” she says. “I have somewhat systemised most of my sales and marketing. I make sure I review it all once a week to see what is working and what is not. “I also make sure I have some time each week to research the latest trends and tools that are getting results. “When it comes to new colours and styles, I sit down a few times a year to plan them out, and that keeps me on track even with having the kids in tow.” The Fable has five full-time staff and a number of casual team members, most of whom work overseas. Its range is produced from 100% crepe de chine silk and everything is also ethically made from accredited factories in the Hangzhou province of China. Doyle said there are a few things that she believes led to the success of The Fable. “Lots of women want to look nice, chic and/or elegant at work and they don’t necessarily want to bring a spare pair of clothing into the office if they have something on after work,” she says. “The silk shirts I have designed have a flattering cut for women of all shapes and sizes, and they can be dressed up or down. You can pair them with any bottoms, and then accessorise them or change your shoes to get a day-to-night look. “I have gone with colours that people will actually wear as opposed to wild prints that will go out of fashion. While all of my colours have a unique spin on them, they are known colours in a unique tone that won’t date. “Adding everyone to my database. Being able to share when we have a sale or when a new colour drops are key to keeping your existing clients engaged.” Doyle added that she has made the product to last. “Lots of women love wearing a silk shirt to the office, but often the fabric does not survive the washing machine,” she says. “Therefore they end up spending a fortune on dry cleaning bills. The Fable tops can be machine-washed.” Doyle said in her opinion spending hours mastering digital marketing and constantly keeping on top of the evolving trends is what has made the difference. “I don’t consider myself to be a fashion designer. I am actually a digital marketer,” she says. “I was lucky to start The Fable at the time when Meta ads were much cheaper and the platform was easy to monetise so I was able to leverage this in a big way. “Meta was definitely the engine of the business in the beginning. Now I rely on a variety of platforms to bring revenue. “If you want to have an online business then having a series of ad platforms which you can monetise is so important. I learnt this the hard way.” As well as its silk shirts, The Fable brand has also expanded its range over the years to include other silk staples, including pajamas and eye masks. Doyle confirmed all of the decisions regarding the future are customer-centric. “We have had a number of requests for an expanded product range to include silk pants, shorts and another line of sleepwear so that’s something we’re considering at the moment,” she says. So how do you get a fashion brand off the ground? So how do you get a fashion brand off the ground?
SmartCompany has compiled a list of The Fable founder Sophie Doyle’s top five tips for digital marketing: Leverage organic growth first. You will be able to take learnings and feedback and make changes to your product or site before investing in digital marketing. When you start spending on ads, test small and then scale. It’s very easy to burn cash in digital marketing so you need to set small budgets initially and test and learn. Be wary of agencies. Meta and Google ads are something that you can learn yourself as the platforms are self-service. Spending money on an agency won’t necessarily add value to your business, keep that money for the ads themselves and teach yourself. Build your email list. This is the only asset that you actually “own”. You will ultimately be at the mercy of ad platforms, their costs and their policies. Your email database however will always be something that you can leverage and fall back on should digital marketing get hard or expensive. Set up a Shopify store, yourself. If you grow your brand to turn over multi-million dollars then investing in a team to optimise your site will be a good investment. Until you’re there, Shopify allows anyone to set up a store. You don’t need to be a web designer.

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