A new business from Digital Brand Architects lets social media stars bypass brands they once hoped to ink deals with in a bid to take control of their business aspirations.
Digital Brand Architects, which represents Aimee Song and Shea Marie among other bloggers and influencers, launched a company called Digital Brand Products that gives clients the tools necessary to introduce their own clothing, home décor or other labels without needing to partner with another brand.
“I think DBP is part of the evolution of where blogging and digital influencers are going,” said Raina Penchansky, Digital Brand Architects cofounder and chief strategy officer. “So much of [a purchase] is informed by blogs that we’re reading and following on Instagram and Snapchat.”
The company already has about 10 lines in the works, all of which are planned for release by the end of the year and are in the fashion, accessories and food spaces. Those 10 include products from Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam, Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking, Jenna Crandall and Lisa Harris of Lunchpails & Lipstick and Amber Fillerup Clark of Barefoot Blonde.
Rachel Parcell, of Pink Peonies and a Digital Brand Architects client, launched her own jewelry line through a licensing deal this year. The agency’s part in growing that line served as one of the catalysts in Digital Brand Products’ launch, Penchansky said.
The collection, manufactured in Los Angeles and Asia, will see an increase in stockkeeping units and eventual expansion into new categories with the aid of DBP, according to Penchansky. The line sells exclusively through Parcell’s site but aims to grow distribution under the DBP fold.
The executives behind DBP think the company is well suited to helping these influencers grow because of both parties’ digital expertise.
“The retail landscape has changed but the model for building brands and licensing them has not,” Daniel Landver, DBP’s chief executive officer, said. “What we’re trying to do is work with our partners to build brands digitally online through e-commerce. So much of retail and distribution and branding was at the retail level where the brand had less of a voice. Now you have the opportunity to do it in a way that’s really organic through your brand and through your product.”
Influencers, up to this point, have largely relied on teaming with established companies to collaborate on, for example, clothing or beauty lines. That’s changing.
The industry’s already seen a select, savvy few rise. That includes The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni and her shoe line Chiara Ferragni Collection, which her company launched after raising money through a private investor. There’s also Michelle Phan, who got her start making how-to makeup videos on YouTube. She now has her own company, Ipsy, an online beauty community with more than $150 million in revenue that sends its subscribers a monthly mix of products for a fee. Ipsy late last month opened the Ipsy Open Studios space to mentor and incubate up-and-comers.
The DBP deals are a mix of co-ownership with the influencers or will involve licensing deals in other cases.
“We’re not looking for one-year deals or short-term deals,” Landver said. “We’re looking to build long-term.”
DBA has seen growth in its five years since launching. The company said it has gone from revenue in the few hundred thousand dollar range to seven figures. That’s been driven by increased demand for digital services, addition of verticals such as food and expansion of the management side of the business into Italy and Asia.