Dagne Dover launched with a pre-order campaign in March 2013, and were sold out by November.
They then took seven months off to raise funds for expansion and to grow their inventory.
They ended up receiving $1.25 million in a seed round with investors such as David Bell (who has also invested in ecommerce sites Warby Parker and Bonobos) and Dominic Cioffoletti, former VP of Sales at Coach.
It’s been called the perfect bag, the new ‘it’ bag.
How did they do it?
1. Great founder/product fit, great story worth talking about
- Melissa Shin, founder and CEO, has an MBA from The Wharton School, and prior experience working at Coach. She understands what people want from a luxury brand and the pain-points that they seek to solve when buying a bag.
- Jessy Dover, co-founder and creative director, was trained at Parson’s School of Design and won the 2011 Coach Accessories Design Competition.
- Deepa Gandhi, COO/CFO, also has an MBA from Wharton and an extensive background in entrepreneurship and fashion. She opened and ran a cafe in high school, interned at Harper’s Bazaar in her senior year, and went on to work at Ralph Lauren and Club Monaco.
The story of their hustle is inspiring, their candid communication with customers on social media is endearing and people love what they’ve done.
2. Unexpected Utility: The bag is seriously perfect for anybody who’s struggled with carrying around all their stuff
The founders spent lots of time talking to women to figure out what they needed.
They discovered that two of the biggest problems were:
- “The Two-Bag Schlep”: most handbags didn’t fit the laptops that working women had to carry around, and so people were lugging around two bags.
- “I can’t find my stuff!”: Most handbags didn’t have enough compartments, turning most of them into black holes of stuff.
Dagne Dover solved both these problems, with one amazingly detailed bag. The interiors of these bags have…
- a water bottle holder
- laptop sleeve
- iPad sleeve
- a keystrap actually long enough for you to use the key while carrying your bag
- card holder
- wallet and sunglass pocket
- and more.
They’re perfectly structured, with a silhouette reminiscent of luxury brands. The colors are gorgeous, and there are new ones every season.
They collaborate with artists. The bags are made of coated canvas, which makes them waterproof and easy to clean. The straps are reinforced so they won’t sag despite the weight of all you can fit in there.
It’s basically amazing, and people are obsessed with them for good reason.
3. Effective campaigns within influencer communities
Dagne Dover is based in New York, which only happens to be one of the world’s fashion capitals. Women in New York tend to be fashion conscious and willing to spend money on quality products.
So the company sent out countless bags to NY-based fashion bloggers and news outlets for reviews and giveaways. Positive reviews spread quickly online, and demand for the bags grew organically.
4. Ensuring a high quality customer experience through a direct-to-consumer model
Dagne Dover does not have a storefront. Their bags are only at a single boutique in NYC, yet women all over the country are buying their bags. How? They go directly to the customer. Dagne Dover runs trunk shows and pop-up shops in major cities like Washington DC and Philadelphia, at colleges and offices.
CEO Melissa Mash strongly believes that direct-to-consumer distribution allows her brand to ensure customers get the best possible experience and her company to maintain strict quality control.
5. They’re got great social media presence, engaging directly with fans on reddit and elsewhere
They share promotions on Facebook, curate a fantastic selection of boards on Pinterest, respond to customer queries on Twitter and share fan photos on Instagram.
When a customer’s review on Reddit’s /r/FemaleFashionAdvice board led to a spike in their website traffic, they reached out to the moderators and did an AMA on Reddit, answering questions about the bags, their factories and suppliers, and what happens when you drop a Dagne Dover bag in the ocean.
They’re quick to address customer concerns, and fix problems, while being transparent and honest. Youtube has hundreds of videos by fans excited to talk about the bag and how they use it.
- Compelling founder story
- Unexpected utility – the bag has more functions and features than any other in its category
- Effective campaigns within influencer communities
- Ensuring a high-quality customer experience with a direct-to-consumer model
- They’re got great social media presence, engaging directly with fans on reddit and elsewhere