Twoobs: $500 NYFW bikini stunt launches massive fashion brand
How do you launch a new shoe business when you’re strapped for cash but you need major attention?
You gatecrash New York Fashion Week of course — armed with three models in skimpy bikinis who are wearing your hard work on their feet.
That’s exactly what Australian sisters Jess and Stef Dadon did when trying to kickstart their everyday-wear platform shoes start-up back in 2016.
With just $500 to spend, the pair — who you may recognise from successful fashion blog How Two Live— secured three models to do the daring gig for just $100 each.
They also hired a student photographer (a friend of a friend) for just $60 and spent the rest of the money hiring a driver because it was the middle of winter and “freezing” outside. A car at least was somewhere warm for the models to huddle between two locations — Moynihan Station and Clarkson Square.
In the midst of NYFW, the girls put on a “show” right outside the venue where real events — that can cost brands anywhere between $200,000 to $1 million to put on — were happening, right in front of “tons of media”.
It was a roaring success. Three years on, Twoobs is now turning over an estimated $1 million, with Jess and Stef telling news.com.au the stunt helped get them to where they are today.
“We had no idea what people would think, but people loved it and thought it was really cool,” Stef said. “Of course, nothing is an overnight success, it takes years building connections and relationships, but that $500 is definitely the best $500 we’ve ever spent.”
Over the last three years the funky sandals have amassed a “tribe” of diehard fans who regularly snap up the sisters’ collections.
They’ve teamed up with other brands too — Bondi Bather, Windsor Smith and Gorman, with the latter limited edition collection selling out online in just a couple of hours and in stores around Australia in a single day, the girls crediting their success to the use of Instagram and Facebook.
Most recently they even had a pop-up in David Jones to launch a first for Twoobs — a sneaker.
“Coachella 2017 was another big moment for us,” Jess said. “We got some amazing images of people in our shoes without even having to go by gifting them to influencers and getting a local photographer to go along and take photos.
“Our most creative ideas come when we have to restrict the budget.”
The siblings have always loved fashion and started their foray into the industry with their blog How Two Live, which shows them wearing near identical outfits.
Currently, they have just under 100,000 followers, saying the blog began by accident as they’d “both rock up somewhere wearing something similar”.
Though they’re not twins, people often believe they are — especially with their matching outfits and similar dark features.
“We became known for our love of crazy platform shoes which was what inspired the footwear,” they told news.com.au. “But it took us so long to get the idea together.”
The shoes are popular because they’re lightweight, waterproof and super comfortable, but the siblings state they made heaps of mistakes before they got it right.
On a hunt for a supplier in China they had several disasters, including three factories failing to create their designs, before finding success with a fourth.
Now with their learning curve behind them, they like to plunge their knowledge back into the industry, recently launching the podcast that features chats with inspirational and motivational women.
“We also have a portion of our sales go to a grant that helps other women launch their own start-ups, as it’s something the two of us are super passionate about.”
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Originally published as $500 bikini stunt that made a fortune