LONDON — Hill & Friends, the contemporary accessories label by Mulberry alumni Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley, is set to unveil a crowdfunding campaign on Monday with equity crowdfunding site Seedrs.
The brand is seeking to raise 655,000 pounds, and the campaign will be open to the public.
Fendley said in an interview they were drawn to the idea of crowdfunding, as opposed to seeking investment from private equity, because it is aligned with the brand’s efforts to be inclusive and transparent.
“Everything we do is for our customers, and we think crowdfunding is a great way for the women who support our brand to benefit from our success. We also chose the Seedrs platform because it has a very low barrier to entry. We didn’t want investment to be unaffordable and hope women who may not have invested before give it a go,” she said.
Having posted strong growth since its launch three years ago, the company is seeking investment to expand its direct-to-consumer channels and develop new categories.
The company said first-quarter sales doubled year-over-year following the opening of its first brick-and-mortar location in London’s South Molton Street, and the continuous growth of its e-commerce site.
“The biggest growth has been in direct-to-consumer sales through our web site. It takes time for customers to become aware of a brand, but they’ve been able to see and appreciate our point of difference, from our ethical stance to our unique pricing structure and service-focused communication,” added Fendley, who sees direct-to-consumer sales as the brand’s biggest driving force in the future.
In addition to its stores and web site, the brand has also started paying attention to social platforms such as Instagram as part of its sales strategy.
Revenue through social channels grew 141 percent in the last year, and the business partners said they are planning to use part of the investment to integrate Instagram shopping into the Hill & Friends platform.
“This is how we all want to shop now, and we make sure we support this with great customer service and more open and inclusive communication on our social channels,” said Fendley.
“Lots of luxury brands treat social the way we all used to treat brand advertising — cold perfection — and this completely misses the point. We want our customers to enjoy communicating with us, and for them to feel listened to and included,” she added, pointing to the brand’s recent launch of small leather goods, following customer feedback on social media.
Also in the works are pop-up experiences that will aim to replicate the success of the South Molton Street store.