A failed Kickstarter campaign isn’t stopping Jasmine Yang from breaking into the fashion industry. Harnessing the momentum from the growing number of activewear lines and an abundance of bloggers, her San Francisco start-up, Sun & Cobalt, is offering a capsule collection created by a different blogger every month.
“I just think it’s a good idea to utilize a trickle-up approach, rather than trickle-down,” said Yang, Sun & Cobalt’s founder and chief executive officer, who previously worked on production and marketing for Banana Republic and Old Navy. “Instead of us going to Europe and picking up trends, we can get the trends from the fashion lovers.”
For its August launch, Sun & Cobalt partnered with Stephanie Nguyen of Sunkissed Steph fame. In its collection with Nguyen, who mixes black-and-white minimalism with a tinge of grunge, Sun & Cobalt is offering nine styles, including a $40 sports bra slit on one side to expose some ribs, $55 cropped sweater, $155 Neoprene moto jacket and $70 high-waisted jogger pants. The clean lines are cast in a soft, neutral palette of blush pink, gray, black and marble-ized white.
In October, Sun & Cobalt is unveiling boyish designs jolted by neon colors in collaboration with Mickey Roxas from Plants & Planks. Given that women with children make up a sizable segment of activewear customers, in November it will team with fit mommy blogger Joanne Encarnacion from Gofitjo .
Ultimately, Yang said the company’s mission is to “be versatile and target to different audiences.”
It wasn’t easy to line up supporters or bloggers in the beginning. In April, Yang fell about $10,000 short of meeting her $25,000 fund-raising goal on Kickstarter. Considering the lucrative contracts that some bloggers have lined up with megabrands such as L’Oreal and Laura Mercier, Yang acknowledged that it took a while to explain her concept.
“They thought we wanted them to plug our brand or be an ambassador,” she said.
Yang also had to get over what she deemed “really crazy” rates some bloggers demanded. She’s open to negotiating fees, paying a certain amount for design meetings and photo shoots, for instance.
“Our first couple of bloggers are totally fine with our offer of just taking 10 percent of profits,” she said. In addition, Sun & Cobalt is committed to giving them two free sets of the collection they designed and donating another 10 percent from profits to their charity of choice.
While the bloggers won’t sell the clothes on their own sites, Yang said she is considering adding Pinterest as a shoppable platform to Sun & Cobalt’s e-commerce site. Despite her unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign, her goal is to surpass $10 million in first-year sales. In five years, she aims to expand distribution of her made-in-USA line to Nordstrom, Target and Macy’s.
She is also on the quest for a plus-size fitness blogger to kick off a plus-size component that will be integrated into each future collection. While the majority of bloggers she’s considering are based in the San Francisco Bay Area in order to facilitate in-person meetings, she’s looking to add Europeans to her network of bloggers in five years.
“Whether it’s fitness, style or health,” she said, “they have so much visibility.”