How to build a brand that’s coveted by celebrities and sells out in minutes

How to build a brand that’s coveted by celebrities and sells out in minutes

We speak to superstars on how to cut through in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

BY Lucy Cheek, 15 min READ

Demand for Spell & The Gypsy Collective’s bohemian threads shows no sign of slowing down. Co-founder Lizzy Abegg talks scaling, scarcity and Miley Cyrus.

Don’t waste too much time on ‘cool’ office spaces or PR.

My co-founder [and sister] Isabella and I have always followed our hearts and created what we love, and I think our customer base, even from very early on, could feel that. But back in the day, we weren’t investing in a cool office space, PR, wholesale agents or anything that most businesses start off investing in – instead, we were creating amazing content that told the story of our brand. Today, the imagery we create and share with our customers is still what communicates the story and lifeblood behind our brand.

Don’t underestimate the power of influencers.

They’re definitely really important relationships for us. Since the first time I sent a tasselled leather bag to bloggers Jessica Stein of Tuula Vintage and a crystal ring to Mandy of Oracle, I’ve seen the power of influence and how it affects customer interaction. It’s like that moment you walk into a store and see the sales assistant rocking a really cool outfit, and it inspires you. I bought a linen coat right off the sales assistant’s back the other day! We haven’t dabbled much in paid influencer campaigns as yet but it is something we are looking into, mainly because we value the work of these creatives.

There have been a few times when celebrities and influencers have worn Spell without us seeding it to them, and that’s been pretty special. When Miley Cyrus came into our store I didn’t really know who she was, but my team told me it was a big deal, and then when press started calling the next day, I was like, oh, wow, she is a big deal! I think I had my head under some kind of rock. Now I play her songs to my kids all the time and they love it!

Listen to your customers, but don’t try to please everyone.

We’ve always used social media to talk to our customers and ask them what they want. There have been times during our rapid growth when things have felt like they’re falling apart, and it’s amazing to be able to just stop and touch base with our customers to ask them what they want, or let them know they’re our top priority. Whatever the method of communication they’re very honest (sometimes brutal!), but always thoughtful, and they’ve suggested some good ideas that we’ve implemented. However, when we design we still make sure we’re designing from a place of authenticity, because if you try to please everyone, that’s when you stray from your truth. Sometimes everyone is coming at Isabella telling her to design this or that, and I just whisper to her, ‘Just sketch something really … you.’

Rapid growth (as I was always told but never really understood), can be your undoing.

After a few years of big growth and increased sales we felt like the wheels were about to fall off, and so we took on the mantra ‘better, not bigger’. It allowed us to focus on the inner health of our business and now we plan growth cautiously rather than open the floodgates. We aren’t prepared to sacrifice on quality, customer service and order turnarounds, not to mention quality of life for our team, and ultimately the sustainability of our business.

Top tips for carving out a cult brand …

Develop strong, authentic relationships with key influencers who love your brand. Build a strong team around you. And learn to love (or hire someone who does) social media for all its wonderfully idiosyncratic glory!


samantha wills

A-listers all over the world – including Taylor Swift and Eva Mendes – are draping themselves in Samantha Wills’s boho-luxe trinkets. Thirteen years since she started selling her jewellery at Sydney’s Bondi Markets, Samantha has a multimillion-dollar global brand and collections that sell out in seconds.

Choose authenticity.

I was 21 when I started this company. The reason we have as such an engaged community is because of the authentic way we have told our story. I am from a small town in Port Macquarie, barely finished high school, didn’t go to university or design school, started this business on a dining table and got myself into $80,000 debt across five credit cards and had to live on baked-bean jaffles for a few years. That’s our origins, and for us to pretend it’s anything else would be inauthentic – people see right through that. Our strategy is authenticity.

Treat your customers like they’re your mates.

Community engagement has been a huge part of our brand growth. When you have a strong community, you have a strong brand. Women today do not want to be spoken to, they want to be part of the conversation. So we treat our consumers like friends. They are part of the decision-making process, directly and indirectly. I have posted different stones I am designing on social media and had our followers pick their favourites.

Community comes first; the product, second.

Jewellery is our business; it is our vehicle. But our brand is our tone of voice, how we make people feel. People don’t need another jewellery brand. But our jewellery business allows us to communicate with our consumer, and when you communicate with her, you are validating her – and as humans, we want to be validated, to be heard. When you do this, you’ll find they will start doing the same to each other. Our communities rally around different initiatives, such as our annual McGrath Foundation Bohemian Bardot ring, where 100% of proceeds go directly to the incredible McGrath Breast Care Nurses. That ring sells out within hours, because of our community. That’s what I think sets us apart.

Top tips for carving out a cult brand …

Be authentic. Be Resilient. Listen to all feedback; if you accept your good press, you must accept your bad. Be consistent. Don’t force things. Learn the art of surrender; people usually affiliate the concept of surrendering as giving up. It’s not, it’s about recognising when something is not working and re-adjusting your focus. If a door is not opening, don’t continue to keep banging on it; try a different door, or try the window!

une piece

Luxury swimwear brand UNE PIECE had a waitlist of 500 and sold out within its first week. Carly Brown spills on the secrets to sought-after status.

Start your own online waitlist.

Before I launched UNE Piece, I researched the product extensively with women of all shapes and sizes to ensure it hit the mark. As we did our research, women were wanting to buy on the spot! So we started a waitlist for people to order. When we hit 40 names we thought, hang on – this could be a great way to get a read on demand. So we created an online waitlist at unpiece.com. Initially it was interest from friends and family, and then they spread the word. From there it just took on its own momentum as more and more people heard about it. We were blown away that we had 500 people ready to buy before the product was even available on our website!

Don’t compromise on quality or inclusiveness.

When women slip on an UNE PIECE it makes them feel confident and empowered. They feel beautiful when they wear it. Only someone that owns an UNE PIECE understands quite how transformative it is when all you’ve owned before was a daggy rashie. UNE PIECE – the Original Sexie Rashie – was created with 28 pieces to be fully contoured to a woman’s shape and we use only the best Italian SPF 50+ fabric on the market. l went through 11 rounds of sampling – in this industry it’s usually ‘sample’ the product twice, then cut and make. I didn’t compromise.

I support diversity of beauty at every touchpoint. I created a campaign and hashtag #unepiecewomen which brings this to life (I’m still amazed every time someone tags us on social media from somewhere fabulous in the world – it really makes my day). We sell sizes 6-16 and for a start-up brand this is a wide-size range. I was encouraged not to do such a broad-size spectrum, but I was determined to make our products accessible to as many women as I could.

Overnight success is a myth.

UNE PICE’s success may have appeared to have happened ‘overnight’ – but it was far from it. I have trained and worked in business and marketing for over 12 years now, managing many big brands. It has been a hell of a lot of hard work and hustle. Having your own business certainly is not the easy road, but the saying is true when you love what you are doing, you never work another day of your life.

Top tips for carving out a cult brand …

Know your consumer; deliver something that really fits a need; have a clear vision and a clear ‘why you created your brand’ – and don’t compromise on what really counts.

the daily edited

The Daily Edited co-founder Alyce Tran describes the brand as a ‘side hustle gone mad’ – within two years it was turning over $1 million a month and this year sales are expected to reach $19 million.

Timing is everything.

Before us, there was no one in the Australian market offering the services we offer in terms of personalisation and customisation. It was an accident and there was no real calculated plan for execution … but the timing was spot-on. I think when OrotonGroup purchased a stake of our business earlier this year we felt it was a turning point … someone with major experience in the accessories space has given us the confidence to scale the brand globally.

Let customers dictate the future.

We care about our customer feedback deeply, customers do dictate our product lines, how we set up our stores, the features we continually add to our site and more. Social media has opened this right up as customers will comment right away if they like or don’t like something.

Find your perfect ingredients.

I think the combination of the quality of our products, price point and additional services we offer put us ahead of the pack in a world where there are so many options.

Top tips for carving out a cult brand …

Run your own race, keep pushing forward and stay true to your vision.

This edited version first appeared in Latte magazine. Wondering how to get your hands on a copy? You need to be a Premium member. Head here for more info on membership to the coolest girl gang around. 


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