IAM1603 – Brand Launch Expert Helps Fashion Startups to Succeed

Podcast Interview with Carley Johnson

Why it was selected: Carley's interview helps out with startups and knowing the things that are important when getting started but it's always important whether serving the fashion industry or even outside of it, what you are doing to make sure you are set up for success including niching down and how powerful it is to know who you are serving.

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Carley Johnson Teaser 0:00
If you're starting out like you've, you know, you've not launched or if you have launched but you're looking to launch a new product or something, the same one I'm about to say sort applies. So it is simply that you're going to be successful if you know what your niche is in the market. And by niche, it's doing all the research.

Intro  0:21
Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business, some awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders, without listening to a long, long, long interview? There's so you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless  0:49
Hello, hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Carley Johnson of Unzipped, Carley it's awesome to have you on the show.

Carley Johnson 0:58
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless  1:00
Yes, definitely super excited to have you on to hear about all the awesome work that you're doing. And before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Carley so you can hear about all that awesome work that she's doing. And today's guest is a brand launch expert Carly Johnson, founder of Unzipped. Carly launched Unzipped in the at the start of 2019 with the primary focus of helping fashion startups who launch and succeed online. Unzipped helps startups through two key services, their online course six steps to launch a fashion brand, perfect for those with an idea and drive to launch an online business and startup, growth services targeted at small fashion brands that have launched and are looking to refine and grow. Carley, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO Community?

Carley Johnson  1:39
I totally am. Yeah, bring it on.

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Gresham Harkless  1:41
Let's do it then. So to kind of kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more about how you got started with all the awesome work you're doing with Unzipped.

Carley Johnson 1:50
Cool, of course. So yeah, it's been it's been a long career so far. So I've been in fashion for about 15 years. So that's definitely not new. But yeah, I guess the story behind the why I started unzipped in 2019 was simply for seeing an opportunity. So I actually moved to Australia two years prior. And yeah, pretty much just saw how behind the times they were with regards to ecommerce. So people just didn't shop online. It was really like really slow, like the quickest delivery was five days. So yeah, so for me moving from the UK where I worked in London and Germany, there was just a huge opportunity for me to actually share my skill sets and knowledge and actually help fashion brands to kind of get ahead of the trend, because I knew the trend was coming. And to start a business where I can actually help fashion brands to get online. So that was kind of the primary reason was actually seeing an opportunity. And then yeah, I guess a secondary to that of why I started Unzipped was I simply got sick of working for the big large brands where you don't really have that appreciation and really wanting to get kind of closer to actually helping people and feeling the reward. So kind of a self need. And then yeah, finally was simply work-life balance. Working for the big fast fashion brands its extremely demanding working for any corporations, extremely demanding. So yeah, my goal was to launch a business where I could actually achieve a good balance in life. So yeah, that's that's pretty much the main reasons as to why I moved into being a business owner. Really.

Gresham Harkless  3:37
Yeah, that's absolutely huge. I appreciate you sharing that with us. And I think I often say you want to know how somebody does it. But I think if you really want to know about the person, about the brand, and then the business that they have, ask them why they do what they did. With what you've done, I love you breaking that down because I think so many times we forget the human aspect of business, that mission driven, that why and you've been able to kind of see that opportunity, but also be able to make a bigger impact. And you were in the position you had before and the experience that you had is absolutely huge. And I think it's something we all should take into account.

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Carley Johnson  4:11
Yeah, definitely. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless  4:14
Absolutely. And so I wanted to hear a little bit more about the what and how. So could you take us through a little bit more on how you serve your clients and the products of service you touched on.

Carley Johnson 4:24
Yeah, of course. So yeah, we're a small agency, but we do actually have quite ambitious skills and services that we offer. We actually do work with quite a wide reach. We work around the world with UK, US clients. So pretty much what we do is as small and as localized as we are in Australia, like we do have a big reach so pretty much as you mentioned in the intro, there's the consulting side of the business and then there's the online courses. So pretty much the consulting side that is really where we work with brands that have launched. So they have launched and they're at a point of, you know, I've launched my brand and why is it not selling? And so there's something that's wrong, which pretty much is generally always I'm not making any money, why aren't people landing on my website? So we pretty much offer a service, which is all around sales growth. The key five areas that we focus on is sales strategy, customer experience, strategic partnerships, which is looking at third party opportunities, operational refinement, and then actually looking at the very basics of, how are you set up? Like, did you successfully set up your operation to enable you to be able to sell to x, y, and z? So yeah, the sales growth is multifaceted. It can focus very much on whatever the brand's pain points are. But yeah, five key areas with that one, and then also of our consulting clients, we help them to grow, bait via wholesale and marketplace. So omni channel is such a powerful strategy. So you know, we encourage brands to not just sell via their own website to actually look at other kind of, again, strategic partnerships, to leverage another big brands, reach logistical operations, whatever it might be that they'll have something that's probably bigger and better than a startup brand. Loads of kind of juicy services that we do to help brands to grow. And then yeah, within the actual course. So we have Unzipped fashion courses, which is on teachable. And we have two two key courses at the moment. So one that you mentioned is how to launch, it's pretty comprehensive. And it is literally everything I have learned in my career in a course. It's everything from idea validation, how to actually know that you've got a really good brand and product that's going to sell, which is so important to their success. It covers how to plan a collection, how to source, how to make, how to ship, how to market it, how to grow, how to do your finances, so much everything like I started would need to know, to launch a fashion brand. And then just to kind of like highlight with our courses. I'm very, very passionate about making people successful. And so we actually do have a side course for people that are very much focused on profitability. We talk through like the success formula. And so how you use data to validate your idea, how you really touch base with your customer and your market and validate that your product is going to sell that someone would get their wallet out and pay for it. So yeah, so pretty much the courses, we match it back with a bit of coaching, because it's important that they actually get to talk to a human. But that's much how we service our current clients.

Gresham Harkless 7:59
Nice. I love that kind of like holistic approach and the different prongs, I guess you can say that you have but also the prongs, I guess the sub prongs within each of the different services you provide as well, too. And it sounds great. Of course, if you're starting out to be able to kind of take that course to get a lay of the land and understanding of hey, I want to be successful. So how do I make that happen, that success formula that you touched on, but I also love that you have those different prongs that you kind of outlined, because I think after you establish and sometimes you get your business to a certain level, you want to figure out why the success that I hoped to have isn't happening, and being able to have those services and those consulting services is absolutely huge.

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Carley Johnson 8:39
Definitely yeah, I couldn't agree more. And again, this is, especially for a lot of them that I work with, they may not have actually worked with someone from a third party perspective, that they're trying to do it all themselves. So it is really important to kind of seek expert advice as much as you possibly can.

Gresham Harkless 9:00
Yeah, one of the best ways to be successful, I think the quote is standing on the shoulders of giants. So people that are really experts at what they do, they have that experience that you've outlined and talked about and that you've been able to have is one of the best ways to not necessarily always guarantee success but will put you very close to being able to be successful. So I appreciate you for offering those services.

Carley Johnson 9:18
Yeah, thank you.

Gresham Harkless 9:20
And I want to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. And this can be for you personally, or your business or a combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

Carley Johnson 9:27
This sounds quite self centered, but you know, I'm the founder of the business and really what makes Unzipped unique is actually this multifaceted spectrum that we offer. And it comes down to the different roles I've had, and therefore the expertise that I can bring to the team and to the table. So just to kind of call out I actually started out as a textile designer, I was a print and embroidery designer and I moved then into fashion buying. And so I've actually been in buying roles in jewelry and in plus size clothing, and moved into wholesale account management. And that was trading, setting up and trading multimillion dollar revenue accounts, big deals, and that was across apparel, footwear accessories, so many categories. And then my most recent role pre-unzipped was all around new business. How can we seek new global sales channels? So really, our kind of what makes us unique is that we can actually really resonate with our clients that are purely creatives that know how to design and the actual creative side of business, but then we can really resonate with our clients that are from, say, an accounting background that saw an opportunity to create a collection. So we can really understand the strengths and weaknesses in our clients, and then how to guide them into thinking quite broad spectrum and introducing them to the areas of business that one needs to understand to run a fashion brand. I'd say that pretty much makes us quite unique. And our niche really which whittles us down a little bit more, you know, we are very much fashion focused, is this all about fashion. But we're about how to help clients increase their sales, but we're not just a sales agency, you know, we're not just get a quick buck for your bang, it's actually how can we really look at like long term and sustainable growth? So I'd say we are quite multifaceted which what makes us different.

Gresham Harkless 11:45
I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Carley Johnson 11:55
One thing that as much as I've talked about all these multifaceted and so many things going on, I just have to bring it back to you simply. So that is, in a sense, my hack. I'll always bring it back to basics, like, why you overcomplicating it? Why are you having a meeting for meeting sake? Like, why are you running and wanting to open 10,000 accounts, walk before you can run, and focus on who your customer is. Like all of these simplistic things that we sometimes quite easily lose sight of.

Gresham Harkless 12:29
I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice, it might be something you would tell a client, or if you have to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business.

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Carley Johnson 12:49
For me my advice to any fashion brand, if you're starting out, you've not launched or if you have launched, but you're looking to launch a new product or something, the same one I'm about to say still applies. So it is simply that you're going to be successful, if you know what your niche is in the market. And by niche, it's doing all the research; pricing, market, competitor and it's finding that product that has high demand with a medium to low competition.

Gresham Harkless 13:10
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Carley, what does mean a CEO mean to you?

Carley Johnson 13:20
It's actually really important that I'm a female CEO. Because to me that the industry is in a CEO status is led by many males, it's very male orientated that top. And actually, fashion is pretty heavily run by females; designers buyers, the actual people manufacturing the product. So it's an important fact that I've made it to that kind of status of being able to tag myself a female CEO within the fashion industry. Kind of the first, what it really does actually mean to me in a sensitive state.

Gresham Harkless 14:10
I love that definition. I appreciate all the awesome work in the blazing trails that you're doing as well.

Carley Johnson 14:15
Thank you so much. Yeah, bring on more of us.

Gresham Harkless 14:20
Yeah break down the walls, right.

Well, awesome. Awesome. Carley, truly appreciate that definition. I appreciate your time, even more, what I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you want to let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get ahold of you, and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Carley Johnson 14:39
Cool. Thank you. Yeah, I guess to be honest, I don't have that much more than tips and tactics or anything to share. But I guess I would just simply say I am very much open for connecting and meeting new people. So please, don't be shy. Come and say hello, if it's anything remotely close to what I've talked about out today, that's good. But yeah, just come knock on my door we can have a free consultation if it's something work related or not. But yeah, don't be shy connect with me. I'm not scary, I promise. Ways that you can get in touch, the website is simply unzipped.co and on there you can send an email directly to me and then obviously, you can check out more info. On Instagram, we are at unzipped connections. So that's plural, so unzipped connections on Facebook we are unzipped fashion connections just add one more word in there and then yeah, you can connect with me on LinkedIn by all means it's just simply my name which I'm sure will be in the notes, it's Carley Johnson, and then our business pages on there too which is unzipped. Connect with me on all of them or just one of them, the choice is yours and yeah, just don't be shy, reach out. I'm more than happy to help wherever you are in the stage of your career.

Gresham Harkless 16:01
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much again, Carley. Like you said, we will have the links and information in the show notes to make it even easier to connect and I appreciate you for you know providing so much knowledge and information and definitely like you said a lot of times really great things happen from just taking actions saying hi and asking for help. So I appreciate you for being that resource for us today but in so many different ways, as you've shown and we can see in all the work that you're doing so appreciate you so much again and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:28
Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by CB nation and blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community you're driven CEO gear as ceogear.co. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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