Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Christy Dawn Crafts a Repeatable Brand Story Retold by Celebrities and Customers

Word-of-mouth is about getting other people to talk about your brand, and Christy Dawn has crafted a brand story that’s impossible not to talk about.

Whether it’s celebrities or just regular customers, people don’t just talk about the Christy Dawn dress without mentioning their mission or what the brand stands for.

Don’t believe me? This tiny 150-word article about Taylor Swift found space to talk about how Christy Dawn sources its fabrics:

20% of the article is about Christy Dawn. Via Popsugar.

Christy Dawn has a mission to heal the earth, takes a stance against fast fashion, and is outspoken about its values.

The whole shopping experience makes it clear to the consumer what the brand stands for, and it makes it impossible for anyone to resist telling the brand story – including celebrities and customers.

How Christy Dawn tells a compelling brand story

When founder Christy Dawn Baskauskas was working as a model, she got a peek behind the scenes. The fashion industry was a huge contributor to the growing environmental crisis.

Instead of adding to the problem, Christy set out to create an environmentally conscious brand with a mission.

The brand mission: ‘Honouring Mother Earth’

From the start, Christy took a stance against fast fashion. Rather than following trends, Christy designed her dresses with a timeless appeal, suitable for all seasons.

She rejected the practice of mass-producing outfits with endless stock. Instead, Christy sourced for deadstock – leftover fabrics from fashion houses, destined for the landfill.

Doing so reduced the environmental footprint of producing dresses, but made each dress part of a limited edition: when the deadstock ran out, the dress was sold out.

Christy Dawn herself, explaining deadstock and why she chose it

Where the fabric came from has become part of the Christy Dawn story. As you browse the Christy Dawn website, you can choose your size and style, but you also see a section on how the dresses are produced:

The brand takes time to explain its practices and its mission. And as you continue reading, you’ll also be drawn to the section on why dresses cost $300:

We’ll talk about ‘Meet Your Dressmaker’ in a later section

Christy Dawn spares no effort in trying to educate its consumers along the way about its mission and values. In the name of Pricing Transparency, Christy Dawn breaks down the cost of the dress into wages, material costs, and mark-up – and all in defiance of fashion industry norms.

Small touches like this are littered throughout Christy Dawn’s website. Instead of a salesy marketing blog, the journal captures the brand’s effort to reduce its carbon emissions and interviews with nature lovers and herbalists.

You might even stumble across an educational glossary of slow fashion terms, to help you understand what the brand is trying to achieve.

Via Christy Dawn: Sustainability Glossary

And the story continues offline. When you receive your Christy Dawn purchase, the dress doesn’t come packed in plastic and polyurethane bags, but a biodegradable wooden box.

Via Forbes

And rather than send your dresses to the landfill, Christy Dawn offers store credit if you send your unwanted dresses to ThredUp for resale.

Where other brands focus on looks and style, Christy Dawn spares no expense to put its mission in front of consumers, and educate them about what sustainable fashion should really be about.

That would’ve been enough for many brands, but Christy Dawn went a step further.

Sustainable is not enough

Ultimately, relying on deadstock only reduces the waste being produced; that makes it more sustainable but no less harmful. Christy Dawn went directly to the source, by partnering with Oshadi Collective in India to create a regenerative cotton farm.

The process took two years, but the cotton eventually became the brand’s latest Farm-to-Closet collection. More importantly, the brand invested the time to document the entire process, tracking the journey on the Christy Dawn journal; creating a custom landing page complete with FAQs, and creating an explainer video that’s shared on its social networks:

Via Christy Dawn Facebook page

Christy has even offered to share the learnings with other fashion brands.

Where other brands might name their collections after designers or styles, at Christy Dawn you can choose from the Deadstock, Organic Cotton, or the Regenerative Cotton collections.

You don’t just buy a Christy Dawn dress on their website; you also take a brief, informative lecture on the brand’s goals and mission. With thought and effort, Christy Dawn turns every customer into an advocate for the brand and its values.

Christy Dawn herself on the cotton farm

When somebody asks you where you got that Christy Dawn dress, you can’t help but explain about deadstock or farm-to-closet.

How to weave story into your brand:
  • Establish your brand’s mission
  • Invest the effort and time to educate your customers through blogs, help articles and video content that can be shared on social media
  • Tell your brand story at all points along the customer journey; on the website, in the packaging, and post-purchase emails

But that’s only half of the story, about the dresses. Christy Dawn as a brand also stands for people.

How putting people first helps Christy Dawn get press headlines

Healing the earth is a lofty mission, but Christy Dawn manages to ground it in stories about people. Remember this from the product page?

As a brand, Christy Dawn also values people, and it starts with treating its workers with respect. The brand expends effort in featuring the individual dressmakers.

Putting a face to the person who made the dress humanizes the brand and assures the consumer that they are not simply buying from a faceless corporation. It also creates a certain exclusivity to the brand – it’s limited edition, and is actually hand-made by a real person.

Being upfront about its values makes it an easy talking point in interviews, whether it’s in Forbes or the local paper. And it’s no surprise that Christy is the best spokesperson for her brand:

Christy is her best brand advocate

Having worked as a model before, and being married to a TV personality, Christy is often featured and interviewed in publications. She never misses an opportunity to tell the story about her brand.

The brand was featured on Vogue in April 2021, and the story was as much about the style of the farm-to-closet as it was about sustainability practices:

Christy repeats her brand mission and re-tells her initiatives. On a recent podcast interview, more than half of the blurb was devoted to re-telling her brand’s mission:

Via: The Brand is Female: Christy Dawn Baskauskas

And this effect is compounded when the story is retold by Christy’s celebrity connections.

Cause + Celebrity = Headlines + Audience

Celebrities collaborating with fashion brands are nothing new – we wrote about Alo Yoga’s brand collaboration with Kendall Jenner last week. But Christy Dawn doesn’t just collaborate for clout; the celebrities often have a cause to support.

In 2015, Christy Dawn collaborated with Emily Ratajkowski for a limited run of dresses. 25% of sales went to Planned Parenthood, and the headlines featured all three: celebrity, cause, and fashion:

Via Instyle: Emily Ratajkowksi Christy Dawn collaboration

On the release of the dress, Ratajkowski released a statement that reinforced the values of the brand while also giving a shout-out to Planned Parenthood and Christy Dawn:

“I’ve always been interested in designing and creating clothes for women by women that are unique and flattering.

Teaming up with Christy, an amazing friend, mother, and entrepreneur, was an ideal situation. I couldn’t be happier with The Emily Dress, and am thrilled we are generating support for Planned Parenthood through a portion of the sales proceeds.”

Christy also took an opportunity to talk about the brand:

“Collaborating with Emily has been wonderful. […] We both value the impact of our social and environmental footprint. It is nice to work with another strong woman who cares just as much about process as she does about product.”

This happened again in 2019 when the brand collaborated with Leighton Meester to drive 100% of proceeds to Los Angeles’ Downtown Women’s Center.

Via Chalkboard Mag

Once again the headline was a combination of celebrity and causes, and Meester’s quote focused the spotlight on the values of the brand:

“As a conscious consumer, I seek out companies that are female-led and mission-driven. As they say, each dollar we spend is a vote cast toward the type of world we want to live in.

“My heart goes out to all of our LA women burdened with housing insecurity. I am thrilled to get behind any opportunity to raise funds to support this important organization and cause. I am excited to be creating something beautiful for women and by women that supports other women.”

By collaborating with celebrities for causes, Christy Dawn ensures that the brand story can be retold in wide-reaching publications read by many people.

How to earn headlines with your brand values:
  • Be upfront about causes you support and values you care about
  • When interviewed, talk about your brand story and values
  • Collaborate with celebrities for charitable causes

But it would feel a little hollow if it were just celebrities telling the story. The real test is how regular customers talk about Christy Dawn.

How customers retell the Christy Dawn story

Content creators trumpet sustainable fashion angle

The brand’s mission and purpose have led to it being featured on lists of ethical hauls, especially by Fashion YouTubers.

Christy Dawn is part of ethical-themed fashion hauls

When style bloggers like Look Linger Love or Style-Wise write reviews of dresses, Christy Dawn’s practices and mission are brought up. Here’s an excerpt from fashion blog Jeans and a Tea Cup, where in between the stylings is a re-telling of Christy Dawn’s fashion practices:

JeansandaTeaCup also re-tells the pricing transparency story

By educating their fans, Christy Dawn also invites them to become part of the movement. Fans also tag the brand when posting about clothes they wear.

Via IG: @aleaheileen

Fans share the love through a referral program

In addition to rewarding content creators through the affiliate program, Christy Dawn also rewards customers who share about the brand with a referral program. One such superfan is style blogger Kait Bos, who shares her love for Christy Dawn through her YouTube Channel and blogs:

Another fashion blogger, StyleBee, featured her Christy Dawn referral link in an article in 2019, but she’s still getting referrals in 2021.

And as a final call-out to their fans, Christy Dawn comes full circle by featuring customers wearing their farm-to-closet collection in a recent email:

Via Milled

The ‘Our Community’ page on the website is also devoted to customers who have tagged @ChristyDawn on Instagram.

Christy Dawn’s Our Community page

How to get customers to re-tell your story

How Christy Dawn creates irresistible word-of-mouth

Here are some takeaways from how Christy Dawn wove the brand story into every aspect of the customer journey:

1. Consciously craft a brand story

Christy Dawn’s logo features its brand mission: Honouring Mother Earth. That is an easy starting point to tell the brand story.

The brand also repeats key phrases and terms like ‘Sustainability is not enough’ and ‘farm-to-closet’ that emphasize what it does while also making it memorable.

2. Tell your brand story – everywhere!

Christy Dawn’s mission is everywhere, at all points on the customer journey. From the product page to the packing used for dresses, from social media content to post-purchase emails, the story is always present.

Christy herself is a relentless advocate for her brand, and her mission.

Collaborations always feature celebrities and a cause. That earns press headlines and contributes to the narrative around the brand, so even an article about Taylor Swift talks about the source of fabrics for Christy Dawn dresses

3. Make it easy to tell your story

Christy Dawn is extremely active on Instagram, posting and responding to comments. That encourages customers and fans to interact with the brand, and share user-generated content.

Christy Dawn also consciously created content like explainer videos, a journal, and a glossary of terms to educate customers. That makes it easy for fans and customers to use the same language and repeat the story again.

Using a referral program and working with affiliates encourages more people to share about the brand.

Christy Dawn honors its brand promise to Honour Mother Earth

The biggest brands in the world are those that have stories baked into the brand. When you see the distinctive Nike swoosh, you think #justdoit. A sleek white smartphone evokes Apple and the elegance of its user design.

The stories make the brands special.

By crafting a compelling brand story, Christy Dawn makes it easy for celebrities and consumers alike to retell the brand story, and uphold its brand promise.

Darren Foong

Darren works on Growth at ReferralCandy. He spends too much time reading fiction, performing improv, and doing things that don't scale. One day he hopes to be quite interesting.

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