With many High Street retailers struggling, the world of fashion might not seem like the easiest industry to start a business in. However, look beyond the big names, and many independent brands are thriving. Fuelled by increased consumer demand for unique and bespoke pieces, bedroom designers and entrepreneurs are capitalising on our fast-changing shopping habits and helping to keep the UK at the forefront of the fashion industry.
One such entrepreneur is Emmanuelle Meredith, founder of Savagé Clothing. Emmanuelle demonstrated his business acumen from a young age, grasping the mechanics of markups and profit margins selling cookies and Lucozade whilst still at school. This led to him exploring a further string of business ventures before discovering a gap in the market for American rap culture-inspired t-shirts. Savagé has since established a loyal following, with the young entrepreneur’s designs being worn by music artists such as Jazmin Gonzalez and 070 Shake.
We spoke to Emmanuelle shortly after a pop-up event in London’s Brick Lane to find out more about making it in the fashion world.
What were your first steps to creating the brand?
Creating the brand started with me looking online for small independent companies that printed onto t-shirts and then calling them up and asking if they could work with me on a just-in-time production method.
I then created an Instagram business account and Facebook pages to market my clothes, as well as sending them to different celebrities.
In a time where everyone is seeking to be an individual, I use bright colours in order to be noticeably different and be perceived as a brand you wear to express yourself.
What were the challenges around launching the business?
Starting Savagé came with a large number of problems. The first was my ego. I have always been afraid of being in the limelight. Although all my friends know me as “Emmanuel who knows everyone”, I have never been the biggest fan of being the centre of attention.
Therefore, instinctively I hid my brand from people in the early stages and this turned out to be a huge advantage. It allowed me to work on ideas without the fear of being judged or having to live up to an expectation. If I only sold one t-shirt in 2 weeks, no one would know. If I sold 10 in 2 months, no one would know.
Another challenge was timing, as I was 16 years old and had just started my A-Level’s. I had to balance shipping 100 t-shirts a month, as well as studying three extremely difficult subjects. I think I ran on about six hours sleep for the first AS year and then, as the company grew, this reduced to four hours sleep in the second year.
Where did you find your time being spent?
My time was spent talking to customers, sizing, returns, refunds, missing items, suggesting colours or just general conversation. I loved talking to customers so this took up a large amount of my time. I would spend my lunchtimes replying to Instagram messages or paying invoices.
I don’t think anyone now can comprehend what that amount of work does to someone’s brain. I was constantly tired and always depressed due to the lack of sleep. I didn’t have time to think about myself as I was constantly serving others but it made me feel complete.
How has the business evolved since your launch? Have there been any particular milestones?
In the last two years, the business has evolved in a very unconventional but beautiful way. I’ve hosted a number of pop-up stores across the country and my clothes have been worn by a variety of celebrities such as Jazmin Gonzalez and 070 Shake, a music artist signed under Kanye West. I have also had artists such as Cuban Doll, comment under a custom design we did for her telling us how much she liked it. I’ve recently moved to Denmark to study Business at university and explore a new market.
Jazmin Gonzalez, a vlogger with over 32 million views, wearing a Savagé Clothing t-shirt
Thinking about social media and marketing, what are your tips for boosting brand awareness and ultimately sales?
Social media is in my opinion like a game of golf rather than football. The objective is not to attempt to score straight away, because it is not possible, but rather to keep edging until you have a clear shot. A common misconception in the world of social media is that you can expect results in two months or even one year. Social media marketing is complex and relies on a combination of networking, knowledge in marketing and luck.
You need to be able to use the people around you who have a target audience who may have an interest in your product to your advantage. You need to be able to know who your market is and then invest money in advertising to them. And you need to be constantly engaging with your customers. I’ve had people who simply ‘like’ my photos consistently, so I contacted them with a small thank you message and a 20% discount code. As a model, you expose yourself by getting tagged in brands products or doing catwalks. As a brand, you expose yourself via your customers and the content you put out. Customers have seen it before and you will have a hard time selling your product.