Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto of STUAD

“What does it mean to have a company besides just selling things?” asked Staud cofounder and co-creative director George Augusto.

For Augusto and Sarah Staudinger, treating their contemporary women’s wear brand like a personality helps ensure that customers will continually find ways to engage with it.

“There’s this nimbleness and almost un-professioanlity,” said Staudinger. “The idea of being not so polished is refreshing.”

When Staud was founded in downtown Los Angeles in 2015, it began as a customization site where consumers could adjust sleeve length and hems. But the founders quickly saw that customers were more interested in buying the bags and clothes as they were.

“So we didn’t stay married to [customization]. After a month we phased it out and it cost us a lot, but it was really a no-brainer,” said Augusto. Another pivot was the move into wholesale. “We’re still figuring out how to treat the web site as its own business, as our customer. Honestly, that’s what you need to be able to scale. Between technology and pacing and channels changing, you have to be able to shift or you’re just going to flounder,” Augusto said.

Big brands trying to do the things that little companies do smacks of inauthenticity, so the key is always maintaining the indie hustle, or personality, they say.

“The mood of a collection can change from week to week and shoot to shoot and I have different opinions for each season. The consumer also has such ADD [attention deficit disorder] that you have to able to not think about it, and just do the things you like,” said Staudinger.

That includes launching shoes for spring, and expanding the accessories beyond handbags. Based on the success of its pop-ups at Le Bon Marché and Selfridges, they would also like to express the brand through more tactile experiences. Travel also is a category into which they’d like to expand.

Said Augusto, “I compare it to Radiohead singing about ‘The future is for amateurs.’ This idea of professionalism in the old corporate way is dying.”

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