Isobel and Cleo was started in December 2008, in a miniscule college dormitory room, with a few knitted accessories, a 12in PowerBook, a digital point and shoot camera, a Paypal account, and a strong desire to procrastinate from doing end of semester final projects. I contacted the team to talk about how this young line has gone about promoting themselves. Run part-time while the invisible designers (Isobel? Cleo? Both? Neither?) complete their masters, they have garnered a fair amount of attention in five short months. They’ve been approached by eight boutiques interested in carrying the line. Of those, six were stores who were either former employers or business owners they had met at gallery or art related parties. Some say it’s who you know, and in the case of Isobel and Cleo, it is partly true. They’ve sold merchandise at several indie craft fairs and were featured on the Heart Handmade blog after being open on Etsy just over a month. Before appearing on the blog, the most page views for any one item was just over 100. After Heart Handmade wrote about the label’s “Bubba Scarf” the page views jumped to over 600 visitors in twenty-four hours. Heart Handmade is exactly the type of press a young designer would want to get. It is an established blog with a dedicated readership, a group of people who will regularly check the site because they know they’re going to receive insider information about interesting designers. It beats searching the internet for hours and coming up empty handed.
Even more entertaining is the attitude of the duo, who claim, “we didn’t really intend to start a business, we just had some space filled with yarn and we need to clear it out.” They just needed space? So, sounding a lot like a bad ex-boyfriend, they broke up with part of their immense yarn collection, whipped up some sweet accessories and sold it off on Etsy. Now the problem the girls face is keeping up with the Jones. They’ve started something on a whim, but now they can’t let it go. The longer they go without adding new merchandise on the shop, the harder it is to generate and hold interest, so they’ve decided to make more of an effort to introduce more items every week. Pretty ambitious, but the girls feel the need to keep a good thing going.
Just this week the team created a Facebook page for the label. Considering how addictive Facebook can be, it’s not a bad idea to let the site do some promoting for you. The internet never sleeps (usually), constantly bringing Isobel and Cleo to people all over the world 24/7. Right now the pair is working on a logo as they believe that it will validate the label and consequently create more interest. They’ve enlisted an old friend from school to design it, and of course this old friend has some pretty, uh… shall we say conspicuous clients and projects under his belt. Never burn bridges. When Isobel and Cleo graduate, they may be lucky enough to already have something that looks a bit like a following.