ARE YOU READY TO MAKE YOUR MARQUE?
During my first interview for this blog the concept of creating a ‘marque’ resonated profoundly with me. It is exactly what this inspiring entrepreneur has achieved.
‘Marque’ is French for brand. I love the word. It encapsulates what brands can evoke; a personality, human creativity and a lasting impact on those who experience it.
I have been following Samantha Stevenson and her brand, Pared, since it’s inception. It has been amazing to watch it grow. Pared was born just over two years ago and is now in its third successful season.
Sam Stevenson is a multi-talented individual, an artist and designer first and foremost. But she has an innate understanding of what it takes to create a brand. Sam is a wonderful blend of creativity and discipline, brimming with passion, positivity and a unique perspective.
Pared is named after her obsession with things in pairs.
The double meaning is where Sam’s philosophy and approach to design become evident; “to pare back, to refine, to sculpt, to edit” is a perfect articulation of what her brand is all about.
Pared was to be an antidote to the impersonal and saturated eyewear category, dominated by one or two big brands.
Sam wanted to challenge the status quo. Working as a designer for Ksubi for five years, she had an in depth understanding of how she could challenge the market.
SO WHAT MAKES PARED SO UNIQUE?
For a brand to truly mean something, you have to breath life into it.
You have to know what you want it to stand for and how you want your end users to feel when they interact with it.
In Sam’s case she was crystal clear. As a fledgling brand you need to stand for something, have a point of view and focus on how that makes your customer feel.
American author, actress and poet, Maya Angelou said “What I have learned is that people will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
This guiding philosophy of focusing on how it will make people feel gives insight into the success behind Pared. For Pared this was especially true, operating in a mature category dominated by one or two key players.
Pared puts its customers at the heart of everything. Sam wants people to feel a certain way when they buy Pared sunglasses and to experience a difference.
“I wanted to create a brand that when you picked it up it felt more personalised, for [you] to know that I focus on the small details, on shapes that are a little different – combining materials, metals for a more thoughtful design.”
As traditional bricks and mortar shopping experience is being replaced by a website and there are fewer chances to get a sense of a brand from a behind the digital face. Disruption becomes key.
“When you buy something you want to feel like you are getting a present I guess…especially when you are selling online. You want people to receive something and feel like you have put a lot of time into it.”
WHAT DID IT TAKE TO GET ‘AIRBORNE’?
Pared didn’t come about easily. It wasn’t just created or manufactured – it was born. It required sacrifice and the kind of steely determination that would put most people off their porridge.
And it’s an on-going labour of love.
Exactly just how much of herself Sam pours into Pared is glaringly evident. Her body language told me more about how she felt about it than she ever could have. To see someone place their hand on their heart every time they recalled the sacrifice is to really understand their journey and their pride.
Unsurprisingly, the journey has not been without financial and emotional toil. Sam quit her full time job at Ksubi and worked as a part-time nanny while designing her first range, writing a business plan and securing investors. She and her partner Eddy moved to Bali to ease the financial burden.
“Starting out it was just me so you have to sacrifice a lot of financial things. So much time and effort goes into having your own brand. I haven’t been able to do as many things as I want, like travel, or social things, and spending money hasn’t been my biggest focus. But I am hoping that in a few years time it will be worth it.”
So far, it’s looking good. Pared has featured at Sydney Fashion week and been involved with several collaborations with Australia Designers including Ginger and Smart.
HOW DO PEOPLE WHO ARE AIRBORNE KNOW WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT?
When do they feel ready to lift off?
While interviewing Sam I uncovered an insight that struck an emotional chord.
Fear of failure and judgment are two of the biggest obstacles people face to getting airborne.
For Pared and Sam, it was no different. She faced the same fears we all do; self-doubt and fear of financial loss but also fear that you will put yourself out in the world and people won’t give a damn.
And for creative beings these fears are often more acute. As Sam so eloquently put it
“The thing about being creative is that there is no specific answer, if you are a mathematician, there is a right or wrong answer. If you an are creative there is no right answer”
When I asked what was different about the day that she decided to go for it the answer was illuminating. In Sam’s own words
“Wanting to do something more with my life overtook being scared and that was my breaking point I think”
This is a perfect example of what it takes to get airborne. Leaning in and embracing the cold harsh face of fear. There comes a time when the thought of not doing it becomes greater than the fear of doing it. Then you know you need to do it!
So what are you waiting for?
Tell me what you think in the comments below.