This week, I spoke to Jo Hooper, the founder of the womenswear brand, NRBY. Hers is one of the rare clothing brands that has thrived during the pandemic. NRBY makes what the Japanese call ‘one-mile wear’, clothes that you can wear at home and while popping out for a coffee – easy linen shirts and dresses, colouful slouchy knitwear and roomy jumpsuits. It launched in 2019 and the concept is so perfect for the current situation that someone recently joked Jo must have seen Coronavirus coming.
She hadn’t of course – but she is a savvy businesswoman. Formerly of Debenhams, John Lewis and Pure Cashmere, she knows the industry well, is engaged by and with her female customers and, crucially, has forged relationships with a few key editors whose readers will love her brand.
Crucially, I say, because – wait for it – NRBY has no PR representation,
Yep, Jo does it all herself. During lockdown she secured key press in The Times, The Telegraph and The Observer Magazine that alerted new customers to NRBY and led to direct sales. How did she do it, I asked? “I went straight to the editors, told them what we had right now and sent them our images.”
That direct relationship is invaluable. From the beginning, Jo has known Times and Telegraph readers are her target audience and has made sure to be in contact with their fashion teams. That’s naturally not something you want your clients to be doing if you want to keep your job, so it’s about forging those relationships instead and also giving press access to the founder.
Jo has also always known the value of a good lifestyle photograph to showcase her products beautifully. NRBY images have frequently ended up in the press because publications are crying out for great great (free) lifestyle pictures.
It’s highly unusual for a founder to be so hands on with their own PR, and it’s a lot of hard work. Not all of them will want to do it – and that’s good news.
That’s why they need you, right?