Episode · 8 months ago

Building a Company and Brand Through Authentic Storytelling w/ Luciana Rozenberg


Fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to break into.

The market is saturated. The competition is fierce. It’s a wonder anyone finds success.

So, a recent immigrant ascending from a fashion internship to launching a disruptive handbag line in less than 6 years — in a pandemic, no less — is jaw-dropping.

That’s why I’m excited for the chance to learn from someone who pulled off such a remarkable feat.

Today’s guest is Luciana Rozenberg, the Founder of Naissant, a Brooklyn-based handbag brand recently featured in Forbes Magazine and a music video for a Grammy-winning artist.

Rozenberg shares her journey launching a product line in the midst of a global crisis and shares tips and tricks for authentically connecting with her customers

In this episode, we discuss:

- Effective storytelling to build brand awareness

- Launching an organic marketing plan during a pandemic

- Shifting your marketing plan based on customer feedback

- Social Media as a tool for featuring product functionality

- The risks of department store retail and how to decide when it’s time to go wholesale

- The role celebrity marketing plays out in brand marketing

- Protecting your brand during rapid growth

Find this interview and many more by subscribing to BRAND-SIDE on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or on our website.

Welcome to brand side, a new podcast by Seltra where we interview marketing creative operations and design meters to find out what life is like in house, first agency side and how big creative ideas come to life at the world's best brands. This is brand side by Sultra hi. Everyone, welcome back on brand's side. My name is Christine and I am your host and also the brand director over at Seltra. Today I have a very special guess that, by chance, I actually met pool side in my building a couple years ago in the height of the pandemic. She is a Luciana Rosenberg. She's the founder of Nessan. It is a wonderful handbag brand that's been featured in Forbes, obviously alongside Luciana, and in a Maluma music video, which I'm very excited to discuss a little later on. So Nessun is a handbag line of interchangeable accessories and they're really disrupting the handbag game. And so welcome to the show, Luciana. How are you doing today? Hiker scene? I'm so excited to be here. Thank you. Thank you so much. This is very special to me, not only because of you but because all the things are happening. So I'm very happy to be here today. Yeah, I'm sure there is a lot to talk about with your brand new son, but before we get there, you are a fashion designer by trade and you've had a long career working at brands like the evening where company Marqueza. How did you decide to start a handbag brand after all of this time in fashion? So, you know, like when I came to New York, so I studied fashion design back in Argentina, where I'm from, and I came to New York because I wanted to study business. And the reason why I wanted to study business because I always knew I was going to have something on my own one day, but I wasn't sure back then what was the path that I went that I was going to be following after. So Marquis actually was my very first job out of school here in New York. I was an intern for them first and it was incredible because, like it's any designers dream to work for like a couldtour you know, brand and all the fluff that comes with that. And when I was there I actually started seeing all the problems that that industry has and particularly like the evening where one where like patterns and construction of the different garments are so complicated and because of that complicated way of making the garment also ends up being, in businesswise, not the best decision. So I kind of like starting seeing the problems of that, of that sector, and I wanted to be as a way of that as possible. And at the same time I started noticing that there was that niche in the market where, particular, I noticed it because I couldn't find the things that I wanted right. So I imagine I was a student in the beginning in...

New York, where everything is expensive. I had to pay for school as an as a non American student, I couldn't work, so I was like leaving off the money that my parents would give me. So I didn't have enough money to buy stuff. And at the same time I was working on Fifth Avenue for sack post and that was my first internship, and I started looking. I was like, I really want bags are nice, that I'm going to be proud of you wearing and that I can afford and that they were functional, and I couldn't. So everything kind of like started happening at the same time. So I started thinking about Assuan bag in two thousand and seventeen, where functionality wasn't a thing, where no one was even thinking about it, and I guess I took a little bit longer and do like ended up launching it. But the whole idea started back then and while I was at Marquesa, I got the opportunity, I am, to dress celebrities and to have a lot of press, which then allowed me to get my visa, which is the nartist pizza, and that allows you to have your own business. So kind of like as soon as I got that, I was like, okay, this is time where I'm gonna be starting nissant as an ad the successories brand that had nothing to do with like evening dresses and construction and returns. Returns was one of the biggest thing that I would see happening with those dresses. So it was kind of like the combination of me noticing a niche in the market that wasn't being fulfilled, together with a piece a decision. Yeah, I think also, you know your your timing was perfect, because I feel like during the pandemic there really has been this push towards having that element of functionality in fashion. You know, I noticed it in my personal life. I am a high heels girl through and through, but during the pandemic I started obviously living in speakers, because what else are you going to wear on your once a day walk with triple masks outside? And so you know, once you go that route, it's kind of really tough to like go back and now I'm dreading occasions where I have to wear heels again, even though I love them. And so and so, speaking of the pandemic, so you launched the brand during it, and what kind of marketing challenges did you face? Everything, you have to think that I was so before the pandemic. I was part of this accelerator and I, you know, in the program they help you create, you know, your resource plan as well as marketing plan and everything, and that was in two thousand and nineteen. We finish that accelerator literally April Two Thousand and twenty, and I found myself with all these documents, with all these work done. We'd all the stuff that became obsolete from one day to another. It was very challenging because I was lost, like really lost, all the ideas that I had. I had particularly because, like what I would my brand and what I stand for is like these thing of like constant evolution of the women and men at whatever customers. I end up having about like how can we make things better, and I think that was the way that I was approaching the...

...son to about like, okay, accessories has been a had been around for like ever. How can I make this better? How can we update them in a way that it's going to serve people's needs and the new needs that they're having? Right so my whole also my whole marketing strategy, was to be present into like in talks or events. Are So many female stuff were happening at the time, like before the pandemic, like the wing and the crew and all these movements, and I was like, okay, I want to participate on these, I want people to actually see my products and touch them and I want to sponsor events. And suddenly, for one day to another's like nothing of that was happening anymore. In Person, was obviously need zero and I had were really working either because people were in buying people were just at home, you know, remodeling their apartments, improving home textiles or things like that, anything regarding to their own skincare, health and home, but no one was really looking into accessories or going out stuff, or even if even my even my products are very street style and you can use them like to like more mundane tasks and just elevate your outfit in that way. People weren't really looking into that. So it was very challenging because I found myself with all these plans that I have and all these ways of like creating in a much more organic marketing plan, and that organic aspect was raised completely. So I had to kind of like start from scratch. And yet after over a year and a half and you are still here and your brand is doing very well. You obviously pivoted your marketing. What did you do? What was your strategy around that? Well, I relied a lot in worth of mouth, and it worked. I had all these customers that work coming to me that I wanted to know where they cut, where were they coming from, and every time this I found the same answer. It was like I saw it on a friend, I saw it on my sister, I saw it on this and that. So, even though I wasn't really planning on that, it happened naturally and I think it's one of the best things ever I think it's a little bit of combination of me talking a lot about it and I think that some people might like my personal style, even though I'm not an influence or anything like that, but I think they would be like, oh, that's actually very cool. So they will first see it on me, the people that were around me, and then kind of like the circle started opening. First it was my inner circle and then they are friends, and then the friends of friends and so on and so forth. And I think the other thing that ended up helping is that in the beginning of two thousand and twenty one, I opened my retail channels, so I stopped being only online and I moved into being in stores, and I think that also helped a lot because more people were able to actually see the product, touch them, try them on, and I think that was one of the best moves that I did for the brand. I think it really shows... it pays off for a fashion and accessories brand, really any brand, to be really customer obsessed and really finding out why your brand matters to them and what makes them take where they found you and and really understanding where those avenues of growth can come from and with you once you realize that there is this whole word of mouth happening. Did you then take that and amplify that on social media? Did you leverage it in your marketing as a wider tactic? Yes, we did use it in social media. We make sure to, like, tell they air stories as much as possible, as well as creating content where like people were really understand all the possibilities of the versatility of my product. I think that even though I too, I paid a lot of attention into the photography and to the content that I would that I would put on my website, I think people were still not really seen up to what extent they the versatility of my products, and social media really helped me so people could understand. I'm like, Oh wow, yeah, I can really use these on that and do this amount of changes. But yes, a lot of like also email marketing, where like I would be telling these customers stories and I would be, you know, sending a photo of them and tell them their their part and and it did. The surprising things that even today, people that already told me how much they use the pros, they come back after months and they say it's a steal. The product that I go for every single day and and I have these. This person particularly, she has like four of my products and she tells me every single time she uses each one of them. And for me there is nothing better than knowing that, like okay, these are the building blocks of your closet in the way that I thought them to be. So it was really, it's really a fulfilling. So there really is that alignment between the brand story that you want to tell and then how your communities actually then then using those products and then so, you know, working at this huge fashion house like Marqueza, you've obviously seen how the giants do their marketing. What are some of the things that you've learned from your experience being a designer there? And then how are you applying, or maybe not applying, some of those tactics into the way you marketness on. Yeah, so actually, Marquisa, for example, particularly has the completely different business models and what I do and Missa. So one of the reasons why I went the route that I went was because of what I saw there. They their biggest clients or customers are at the big department stores and usually departments ors know the power they have because they know that they are quantity they mean quantity, right. They have so many doors around the country and like they have so much power into the brands because everyone wants to be there. So I saw the dynamic and the powerplay that department...

...stores have with brands and I was like, oh no, I don't want to be part of that. I saw so many times how, you know, they decide to discount stuff and then they go back to the brands and they are like hey, like, I had to discountubt, you need to share that discounted. If something were wasn't actually really working, they can go and return it to you. There are so many risks that I was like, I'm not I don't want to work in that way. So I learned that part of the business side. And even though I'll give you an update later because I'm actually looking into go in wholesale now, but knowing the rules of the game, I'm working towards having much better agreement terms, but that's for later. And regarding like marketing, I mean Marquisa, it's actually is. It's a tricky one because, like, they had all these issues with with Wine Stein, and so it's a particular story. But they relied a lot into celebrities and that's how any could tour or evening where brand dust it usually, and I found that obviously what happened with my brand and and being exposed out to celebrities gives that validation that I think any brand that is a starting really needs. That validation for a fashion brand is like it's the last push that a customer needs when they are trying to see if they want to buy something. Sometimes not for everyone, obviously, but for some people that maybe they had been looking into some products and they were in one hundred percent sure about it. When they start seeing that validation, either from press or celebrities, that's the last push that they need. So thinking about marketing and what I've learned through my previous works is that you might not really seed immediately, you might not see sales right after someone use it, but it's in people's mind and it stays there and it's like Oh wow, these decent that happened to you, and like people are like, okay, I think I'm ready now to buy, and I think that's exactly the one on one of brand marketing. Really it's really tough to quantify the you know, yes, there are cases where you know someone like Kate Middleton wears a dress and then the day after that retailer is sold out. There are those immediate moments, but then a lot of the time it really is a sum of like many, many different activities, and what I think you have done really well with the sun is almost intuitively, the stories that you tell through your brand on social press. They all kind of come back to this same single narrative of empowered women, women who achieve, or not just women, people who achieve, who are driven, who are motivated. You're showcasing these women, you're celebrating these women. So I think that really is a lesson in also, like simply in simplifying and not trying to do too many things. I think...

...that's a big problem with marketers off and they try to cover ground and to tell so many different stories that in the end it's very jumbled in the consumers eyes. So I just wanted to ask, like how do you sort of like keep the reins and keep the focus in the communications of your brand? You know, that's that's interesting because, like I did this interview that I know we're going to act these gut later at all. That the way, and they actually sent me a few questions beforehand and there was one question that said that if I could imagine other celebrities wearing my products, who would I have asked my my ideal people? Right, and I really struggled with that question because I never thought my products not. Not Because I didn't think that celebrities would like my products. Nothing to do that, just because I it's not Sissarai necessarily the people that I had in my mind when I was designing my products. And I think that being honest to who I am and what I stand for, and I think I just I'm really keeping focus on what did I have in mind when I was designed to this purps, and I had normal people in mind, like you and me, and I just like I've always been attracted to people's minds. I and that I feel it. That's why I love New York, because of the amount of people that you can talk to and everyone's minds. It's just fascinating to me. I'm a curioust human being and I like talking to people and I love that passion and drive and dad ambition that people have. And when I was thinking about Nissan, I was thinking about them and I feel like the fact that I hadn't moved my needle about like that, like keeping in mind the people that I wanted to wear my accessories. I build people that are like inconstant, you know, growth and, as I keep saying, but evolution is such a strong word for my brand of myself. Like they are. They want to learn more, they want to stuff, they want to grow personally and and careerwise, and I feel like I was, I'm just staying true to who I am and what I would I stand for. Yeah, and I think it really shows through. And it's interesting also because when when you have a brand that has a lot of resources and money to put into marketing, they all they often go really aggressively into paid acquisition, in and funneling a lot of money, especially to social campaigns to drive conversions and and and retargeting. But for you, because you know as a starting brand, you really had to focus on the community part of it. And and my and my kind of follow up question there is, as your brand grows and as you'll probably...

...also expand upon your marketing resources are, are you still going to be relying on these almost like these community stories and amplifying them and and just bringing this sort of content marketing to life around the Sun. Is that going to be still the bread thread in your marketing? I think it will, because it also one of the biggest challenges that DDC brands are having today is that the market is so saturating. We'd adds constantly, constantly, that everyone is fighting for that little piece of cake. Do like gain people's attentions. And as as a consumer myself that I'm on social media, that I had that I see all those stuff like they don't resonate with me. And one of the biggest things that I was that I kept thinking all the time. It's like what would actually resonate with someone? Then, just in an ad, because I know my products are really beautiful themselves, I'm like, okay, great, yeah, you can see any amazing photo that you like. You're going to click on that ad, you're going to see a little bit about it, you're going to check the price. Maybe feeds on your budget or not, you will buy it. But then how do you establish that connection in those fifteen seconds of the story that you'd see on Instagram, for example, of that APP and like you won't unless you start seeing all the other stuff behind and I think one of the biggest things that I saw is like, every time people actually get to seem my personal story, they get much more attached to the brand and it resonates ten times more. Like I had. One of the effects, and again, I know we're going to be talking about it later, but one of the biggest effects that I got after this, the interviewed I came out a few days ago, we're people reaching out to me personally on the ends telling me how inspiring my story was for them and how they others and people were like you have here a fan for life, and those people were place in orders immediately. So I feel like that's what's really working for me and even though, and as you're saying, my marketing budgets are not as huge as the corporation can have, and also I really have to be careful in how do I decide to spend those resources that I have, and what's been working for me is actually my story and how people like that and feel related to that. And it's so funny because one of the first conversations we had when Nessun just was about to launch was that, you know, building building this narrative around your personal story because it is so interesting and inspiring to people and I'm personally it just really happy to see that come to life and come to fruition and bring and bring some pretty crazy marketing moments in the past year. So what are some of your sort of pinch me moments of reason, because there are a couple that I was really impressed by. There are a few. I mean the very first, wow,..., wow, one was being featuring forbs. I just like seeing the name Forbes on top and underneath my name, was like wait, what really that was? That was incredible because for me is even though I made desire and people think that the signers are usually these like only creative people, I love business and I've been so attracted to that world for so long that being able to combine those two that I those two worlds that I really, really love, that was incredible and knowing that, knowing that my story is interesting for someone else to feature it, that means a lot because I sometimes as an entrepreneur, you have all those moments where, like you are also in so many highs and then immediately or in so many lows and it's such a roller coaster that knowing and seeing that for other people your story might be interesting. It's amazing in just the feeling or itself. So the very first one was was forbs and it just that one was one of many, many, many, like articles that I was featured, which was incredible. Forms The Daily Mail, Glamor Mag women were to say, really the daily from Row Authority magazine. I was also featuring a printed magazine called money, about town that it's in La New York and Palm Beach. I was in the cover of these magazine in in Italy called that Ontadia, which is actually an industry magazine. So also being featured in each leaven, though my bags are not made. Need to leave. That was another like wow. I mean so many of those that I was like wow, that's incredible. But lately, yes, I had a big, big one, which was that I got just justin kills styles to reach out through a DM on instagram. Everyone is asking how did you get there, like did you pay for that? I'm like no, I don't have the amount of money to be able to play someone to have my my prize in the music video. So the style is reach out to me because she saw my products in the Sopho House in Miami, where you can find a stunt and they reach out over them and they were like look, like I'm texting you through these like celebrity style has and we would love to have your priors in the next my lumas and Justin killers like music video. And in the same message it was like we need all the products to be in Miami in like two be sssays, like I was like, Oh my God, okay, we need to like make this work. So I prepare all the all the products that they wanted, because they initially reach out for like five different products. They weren't sure how they were were going to be using them and yeah, and then I send them to them and I was like, I think it was June, maybe beginning of June, and I didn't know if they were going to appear in the music video or not. They told me we cannot promise anything like they urs happen or might not, so I had to kind of like shut up and not tell anyone about it. Was I was like, I don't want to...

...get too excited, like it might not even happen, so I'm just not going to say anything. And I knew it was gonna come out in August. So it was like the longest months ever until I knew the video was coming out again. That time I only told like a couple of people and I was like up again, I'm keeping it for me, to me, and then I was like at these like event with a coworker and I started just like I watched the video and I started screaming and jumping and everyone was like what the heck is happening to you, and I was like, Oh my God, the bugs earlier and like I didn't know he was going to be wearing them. I thought, you know, I wasn't sure what's going to happen. So it was. It was incredible, and then he kind of like became a snowball of things after that. And you know, it wasn't only just the music video, but other people started seeing that that happened, and I mean themselves, like the style is really liked it. So a couple weeks after I was in Miami being part of this pop up event at her she has a company as well, so I was invited to have my my son there. So I went there, met these amazing Latina the signers there as well, and then I they requested another product for me, and then that's another product that is going to be coming out very soon. I don't want to say much, but yeah, that's another one that's going to be featured. And he requested one of the PROMS and now he has it and he's wearing it and it's actually my personal because I was so bad. So the stylist wasn't I want that one, the one that I was wearing. Yeah, and I was like, but I don't have any more in black. I she was like it's okay, I can get you, I can get yours, Mike. Okay, it's was like literally taking the stuff out of my wallet, like my credit cards myself. I was like, okay, there you are, and that's the one that he's wearing right now. Like he has it on his personal accessories closet. So it's just certainly pity, you know, sometimes like these started type of things that happen when you're the least expecting them. And Yeah, I mean, and the last last one was that I was feature what I was mentioning before at these Lauda now a ala at all at the way. All that, the way, is actually one of like the biggest. It's massive. Yeah, it's massive. Entertaining TV channels in soul South America as well and Spain and it's magazine as well as the TV channel. So it was massive. And again this was just out of a conversation of this person that was doing pr for me. She is not doing it at the moment, but she was just telling my story to these other person from all that the way, and the person was like, I love her story, I want to feature her. So again it wasn't something that I didn't even plan for it, I didn't pay for it, it was just something that the just she just wanted to feature my story. And Yeah, so I was out in these I TV channel on Monday or Tuesday this week and aid had. That was a big...

...snowball, not only saleswise, but followers wise. In instagram I found that I got over two hundred and fifteen you followers on my personal account. So that that was also surprising to me because I saw that, okay, this is not just because of my brand and my price. They like my story. So it again validates what I was saying before and how that it's very important for my brand. That's an incredible roll acrosster. And on top of everything else, that song is such an error. I love that song listening ropeat. It's so good. It's so good and so. So you know what was the results of all of these press hits and being in the music video and and and did you see an immediate peeking orders and side traffic after these things happened? Yes, I the one that I saw the biggest effect on sales was after the TV show, the music video and and the the following things that happened after that was, more than anything, that validation asking that I was seeing and a lot of website traffic, a lot of it. But I think people might have been a little bit confused because they everything on my website is female oriented and then we had it celebrity that was a male using my product. So I think people were like, HMM. So I that actually showed something very good for me, that there's a lot of male interest in in my brand and I'm actually developing aline right now that it's much more Unisex in order to like a company, that like new aspect of the brand. But yes, I saw, I saw a lot of validation more than anything. Sales came very obvious right after the TV channel because they happened the same night. But I did see. Also, I spike on website traffic and sales after the music video. So it was an ass automatic after music video, but I didn't do anything differently after that and sales where significantly higher starting August. So the past months had been I run out of a lot of things actually, which is a problem I do. I mean it's a good problem to have, obviously, but now sales kind of like blood beau because I don't have any more product which is coming in the next couple of weeks. But yeah, so that's all very exciting. So now, having being running this brand now for almost two years, what do you think are the most important marketing activities for a fashion and accessory is brand? I think that trying to be in as many different channels as possible. I would say, like I think that when you are a new a new fashion brand or accessories brand, you need people to see that other people are using...

...that, following that, talking about it. Right. It's kind of like, you know, when you have that thing the like maybe I don't know, I'm going to give you a dumb example, but like you are as at a store and you just saw that last pair of shoes and then you weren't really sure about them, but the girl next to you comes and she's like, Oh, are you taking them? And then you are like, oh, now she wants it, so maybe I wanted you know that. Yeah, fact of like maybe you weren't going to buy them if that girl wouldn't have said that. But like now that you know that she wants it to you're like, oh well, no, maybe I will take it, and maybe you maybe that was the last thing that you needed, knowing that someone else also wants that. And I feel like when people started seeing that my products were sought for and that other people were looking to them and different boutiques wanted my products to be in their boutiques, and other brands like, for example, Nysanti, is also core actors website, which is Rachel so's Q, rated in product selection, and I think that that also helped a lot of people making a decision to buy. I got a lot of sales from coming from their website, and I think is that thing about like okay, well, this is an upcoming Brad I like what they're doing. Oh, by way, she's vouching for them, so I if she's vouching for them, then I'll trust them as well. So that aspect of trust, of having other people showing you that they also wanted, that they vouch for that, that they use it, and having your own peers, like having friends, and that's why I think worth of mouth was so important to me, because it's like other people telling you, hey, did they are not just saying that that is functional, it is actually functional. I worried. I use it all the time, I like it. It became my number one accessory that I choose every day when I do in Xyz. I think the combination of all is what actually and really helping me. I think that one single effort or, for example, if I would just stayed with like, okay, I'm just going to concentrate all my marketing efforting ads and I'm just going to add that, I don't think that would have worked as well as being in other people's minds and and circles, to put it that way. Yeah, it's a lot more aspirational that way. And so, finally, what is next for Nassan and and where can people find you and find the brand? Yes, so what's next for this aunt is that, now that I have more history in sales and what people like is that I'm going to be dropping new product every two to three months. So instead of following a typical seasonal collection as other brands do it, I'm going to be doing more of like new drops with limited editions, changing sometimes colors or leathers or obviously, on dropping new products as well every two to three months. One of the biggest pvots you can say is that I'm moving into a more unisex...

...line where like both can can wear it and yeah, so those are the two new things that I'm but I'm working on the Sun. I've until now it was more, much more female oriented and after everything that happened and a lot of requests from my mail circles of like dropping new products, that's where I'm going to be moving and the sound right now aid's available at obviously our website, Nessand Andyccom we are at courturs website. We're also adds, a house boutique in Miami. We are at Wolf and Badger, which is in an online retailer, yeah, which is amazing because through Wolf and Badger I sell all around the world and they make shipping super easy. So if you're in any other country that is not the US, it's very straightforward. So that's amazing and at the same time I am at a online store that is called fair, which fair it's a wholesale platform, which is amazing because if you own a boutique, for example, I just shaped an order to Switzerland and another order to Montana and things like that. So those boot peaks and and small stores found me through fair and hopefully I'm gonna be starting. I'm going to have more news regarding my wholesale strategy, but that's something that it's very you still so hopefully I'm going to be present another retail stores as well in the upcoming month. Thank you so much. And as a an owner of a Nissan, I have the belt bag in forest screen. I can really vouch that it is one of the most beautiful and practical things I own in my closet, so you should use to definitely check them out. will be linking everything in the show note, so if you're interested in my son and Luciana, you can you can find those links there. Finally, thank you all for listening. If you liked what you heard, please follow us and maybe give us five stars and, if you have five minutes, even a written review. Until next time, I am Christine and this is brand side by Celtra. You've been listening to brand side. If you like what you heard, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about creative production automation, is IT SULTRACOM? Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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