How Michael, Jennifer and Kevin founded Element Pure, a sustainable clothing brand, and Kickstarter campaign promotion tips from 3 successful campaigns!
Who are you and what business did you start?
Tell us about the process of creating your products.
Kickstarter campaign promotion
Walk us through your customer acquistion.
Did you do any advertising or hire a Kickstarter Agency?
Walk us through your social media strategy.
What are you marketing plans for 2020?
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
How are things today and what are your plans for the future?
Where can we learn more?
Element Pure is a clothing brand dedicated to creating high performance clothing that aims to be as comfortable and as earth friendly as possible.
We got our start when founder Michael slept over at a friend’s house. Mike, who normally wakes up in a sweat, woke up completely dry from a night of amazing sleep. His mind blown, he asked about the sheets, and the friend told him they were made from Tencel.
Looking it up, he discovered Tencel is a nanotech fiber that blows traditional fabrics out of the water in terms of functionality, and is quite literally the most sustainable fabric there is right now. It’s also extremely soft, moisture wicking, color fast, and odor-resistant. Together with a couple of old school friends, a myriad of possibilities were dreamed up then and there.
In 2015, the use of Tencel was quite rare. We wanted to help this renewable fabric grow in popularity against more resource intensive fabrics like cotton and polyester. It’s also just plainly, better.
Our current products include baselayers, loungewear, underwear, and now custom dress shirts. We are also exploring new fabrics, products, and manufacturing processes that fit in our ethos of extreme sustainable comfort.
We were just a group of three school friends who had no experience in the garment industry. Two of us had graphic design backgrounds, and the third in finance. Armed with an awesome fabric, we decided to test out the market with thermal baselayers, which takes advantage of Tencel’s features while being relatively easy to design, or so we thought.
What came after was a series of sleepless nights, learning and prototyping with our manufacturer. We would even go to the mall and buy every other brand’s leggings and baselayers in all sizes to learn what worked and what didn’t, teach ourselves about weaves, stitching, construction, sizing algorithms, and learn where we can innovate to become the best product in the space.
We also got really lucky with our manufacturer in Qingdao, Mike’s familial hometown. We were introduced to them by the same family friend that told Mike about Tencel, and this initial foundation of trust led to a tight-knit working relationship, from the head boss to the seamsters.
This helped us plenty, especially since our material composition requirements were unique at the time, we couldn’t use off the shelf fabrics. Conventional clothing retailers can buy cotton or polyester and dye it to spec, but we worked closely both on and off-site with our factory, going through a lot of trial and error with and many swatches before finally finding a construction and composition that’s tailor-made for our use.
The bulk of our customers to date are from the three Kickstarter campaigns we ran. It’s still just the three of us, so we haven’t really invested in marketing like most companies out there. One of us has a design background at an agency, so we were able to make our website on our own and do all of the photography, graphics, and video production with just the three of us.
From the get-to of our first Kickstarter, we took our promises very seriously, and we’ve always fulfilled our campaigns on time. We’re fortunate to get a lot of organic referrals after our backers get their products, and enjoy a high rate of repeat purchases.
For our first two campaigns, we had a pre-launch email lead generation campaign, but we were beginners with crowdfunding specific marketing. Towards the second half of our first campaign, when we were already a couple times funded, we were approached by a lot of different crowdfunding agencies that tackled various functions. We ended up choosing one to work with and have worked with a crowdfunding agency for each campaign we’ve done since. Our partners include Funded Today, Backercamp, and most recently Hyperstarter.
We’ve seen other Kickstarters fizzle out even after raising a lot more money than us due to overspending on marketing, so we’re glad we were able to avoid that trap. But of course, we also know that to grow, we need to buckle down and really develop our marketing funnel.
Thus far, we’ve primarily used organic Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We dipped into Reddit years ago, but it seemed too high maintenance between the three of us, since it didn’t feel authentic unless you were constantly responding. Since we’re a clothing business, it makes sense for us to spend more of our time on Instagram. However, during our campaigns, Facebook was much more effective than anything else.
Before we grow our spend on digital marketing, we’d like to take some me-time and refocus our own website first. We’re small and want to be smart with how we spend our money, and we have website capabilities in-house. So our first step will be to improve that experience, and effectively tell the story of what makes our products great.
From there, we’ll experiment further with Facebook and Instagram ads, micro-influencers, and maybe even something unorthodox like Reddit or even PornHub with our boxer brief product. We’re open to something we can MacGyver and sneak in a joke!
If you deal with physical products, we’d definitely recommend spending more time figuring out logistics and storage. Optimizing those are very important for both customer experience and cost management. Long term storage fees add up really fast, especially if your margins are not high.
We quickly realized the importance of branding, as well as sound budget management. Even if you’re product is good, it won’t sell if you can’t tell it’s story well. Even though none of us had a garment background going into this, our shared backgrounds of graphic design and finance proved extremely useful in getting a retail company off the ground. We were able to make things happen without overreaching ourselves, and also able to become presentable with minimal spend.
We’re currently in the process of revamping our business model and move towards a more made-to-measure and made-to-order system. It’ll further enhance our sustainability by reducing waste and unnecessary inventory. We also worked with our manufacturing partners to figure out how to get our product shipped directly, which is also hugely impactful in reducing the carbon footprint of our product, as well as reducing our storage fees.
Just a few months ago, we integrated a 3D modelling and sizing technology into our mobile app with our sister company, MagicWeaver. This allows us to obtain accurate body measurements from two photos and provide our customers custom made, tailor fit clothing.