For any company, designing and launching a new apparel line is challenging at the best of times. Success requires close collaboration with multiple teams, often in different locales, from design to development and production. For online retailer The Bra Lab, launching a new line during the COVID-19 pandemic meant rapidly seeking out reliable ways to carry out all those processes virtually.
Deploying BlueJeans has helped the company bounce back, adapting working practices and supply chain relationships to keep its growth goals on track. Here’s how The Bra Lab did it.
Ensuring business continuity
Launched in 2017 by sisters and co-partners Gina Vericella Crevi and Jennifer Vericella Prado, The Bra Lab aims to change the way women buy bras. Using the company’s patented designs, women can creatively interchange bra back bands, cups, and shoulder straps, mixing colors and patterns to create a stylish ‘meant-to-be-seen’ garment that can work with any outfit. At the same time, a patented side clasp system provides sound ergonomic support while eliminating less-than-elegant back fastenings.
“Fashion is ever evolving, and bras should follow suit,” says Crevi. “The Bra Lab allows you to wear what you want and feel comfortable that your bra complements or even becomes part of your outfit.”
In late 2019, the company decided to develop The Swim Lab, its first swimwear line, following a similar ‘custom-build your own design’ approach. With a business partner based in Australia, suppliers in Asia, and colleagues in Europe, this major new growth initiative required global collaboration and coordination.
“In March 2020, we’d arranged to fly to Sri Lanka to meet new suppliers for the first time—but then the pandemic struck,” says Crevi. “When travel restrictions forced us to cancel our trip, we put our heads together and pivoted to a completely online operational strategy. A key part of that was immediately subscribing to BlueJeans so we could carry on conducting our business and stay close to colleagues, families, and friends.”
Streamlining the go-to-market process
Deploying BlueJeans Meetings video conferencing technology allowed The Bra Lab to seamlessly transition to a virtual operational environment, ensuring continued customer service. Crucially, it also meant the company could move forward with its swimwear design plans.
“Previously, we’ve always visited suppliers in person to see samples, check fittings, and generally oversee how garments are working out. BlueJeans offered us a reliable way to carry out those sessions virtually, using video to see the full perspective of the garments being put together by our Sri Lankan team,” Crevi explains.
“It’s proved such a reliable way of working that we’ve realized we can get from design to final item in about three steps, whereas previously it would probably have taken about five to six. That’s huge when you remember that every step requires cutting, sewing, adjusting, and mailing the master design back and forth between Sri Lanka and the US. Streamlining the process means more cost efficiencies and it’s a time-saver, too.”
At the same time, the sisters have been able to stay connected with other stakeholders around the globe. “We hold weekly meetings over video with our product design team in North Carolina and our partner in Australia,” Crevi explains. “We can also exchange screenshares via BlueJeans with our colleague in Europe for business development and design.”
Building employee engagement and connectivity
The company found it easy to adapt to working remotely, thanks to the quality and simplicity of BlueJeans’ services. “We evaluated other virtual conferencing solutions, but found BlueJeans super user-friendly,” Crevi says. “The fact that we can record meetings so easily, tagging critical moments and assigning actions is also helping our remote teams work together more productively and efficiently.”
BlueJeans is also helping The Bra Lab keep employee engagement high by allowing colleagues to continue to interact with each other in a meaningful way. As Crevi says, “Working remotely from our homes during lockdown, we’ve all been able to share personal stories and stay close—even with kids in the background! For a small business like ours, maintaining that connectivity is a vital part of building the brand.”
Today, the company has successfully completed the design aspect of its swimwear line and is stocking its online shop ahead of a winter product launch. With most in-person events still canceled due to the pandemic, The Swim Lab will also stage a virtual launch event using the BlueJeans Events platform to showcase its innovative designs.
“BlueJeans has been a lifesaver for our business during these unprecedented times, allowing us to navigate the manufacturing process for our swimwear line in a creative new way,” says Crevi. “We expect it will continue to be a vital tool for us in the future as well.”
To learn more about how Gina and Jennifer were able to design and launch a new apparel line, tune into our “Innovate and Create” webinar on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT.
In Part 3 of 3 of our webinar series with Yahoo Small Business, Gina and Jennifer, Co-Founders of The Bra Lab, will discuss how to shift a traditionally hands-on production process virtual and how do you rate and review your new process to ensure you’re doing the best for your customers and your business.
Topics will include:
- How do you make the tangible intangible? (Virtually) working with partners, customers, and investors on the production of retail products
- Tips to enhance your virtual environment to spark and optimize the creative process
- Considerations to optimize and streamline the go-to-market process and virtual product launches