26 May You’re Going to Want to Copy this FEST Brand’s Genius Micro-Kickstarter
When it comes to crowdfunding, hefty fundraising goals and complex campaigns have become the norm – so much so that an emerging designer might easily think the only way to succeed is through months of planning, a sizable following and a massive campaign. One FEST brand is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way.
When Rossi + Rei founder Elisa Rossi casually mentioned the Kickstarter campaign for her forthcoming line of luxury apparel and accessories made by Italian artisans to me earlier this week, her offhanded mention gave me pause: why had I not seen a flurry of emails launching what I was sure would be race to a five-figure goal? Were they in my spam? Where were the relentless Facebook and Instagram posts? Was there some algorithmic mischief keeping me from this information? Was I just totally out of it (I did end up at the doctor’s office a week early the other day, so I thought that was a distinct possibility)?
You can imagine my continued surprise when I went in search of the campaign to find it already funded – with two weeks left to go. But get this: there were only 7 backers. And the goal itself? $1,750.
Let me repeat that: $1,750.
Obsessed as I am with founders who instinctively do things differently, I asked Elisa about her approach. What I discovered was a little slice of genius that other FEST founders need to hear.
Here’s what I learned.
The Micro Kickstarter as Production Test
While most emerging brands these days use crowdfunding campaigns to generate the funds they need in order to begin production and only start working on that part of their project if and when they reach their goal, Elisa’s team is using the crowdfunding model as a very limited test to help build and refine the pre-order model they’ll use to sell when they launch publicly this fall. According to Elisa, “We wanted to use this as a way to really internalize how pre-order works.”
Limited Crowdfunding Aligns with Luxury
Plenty of people say they’re selling luxury products, but doing so on a large scale early on is typically impossible – especially if you’re working with real artisans who are experts in their craft.
For this Kickstarter campaign, Rossi + Rei focused on crowdfunding pre-orders for a single product: a women’s summer hat handmade by Italian artisan Veronica Marucci, who can only make 20 hats by June. Because of the process she uses to mold and create each hat by hand, there simply can’t be that many of them.
It’s a case where the relatively low monetary goal for this initial crowdfunding campaign reinforces Rossi + Rei’s positioning as a luxury brand. Counterintuitive, yes. But absolutely on brand.
Micro Crowdfunding as Series vs. Single Event
You might notice that I just called this Rossi + Rei’s initial campaign.
While launching one, big hulking massive campaign has been the common approach lately, Elisa and her team are planning a number of similarly small batch pre-order campaigns this summer. Essentially, these campaigns are helping Rossi + Rei test a number of aspects of their internal processes while “giving people access to talented artisans they can custom order from,” Elisa tells me.
As they launch and grow, the micro crowdfunding campaigns will give way to larger pre-order collections sold exclusively through their site. But for now, they’re using Kickstarter as a testing ground not only for product market fit, but also for their operations.
Here’s to Things Done Differently
It’s a truly lean approach to laying a strong foundation for what’s ahead.
If you’re a FEST founder growing your brand, I hope Rossi + Rei’s micro crowdfunding inspires you to think and do something a little differently in your world soon. Want to learn more about Rossi + Rei?
You can hear more about Elisa’s journey building a luxury Italian brand built around pre-orders on the Spirit of 608 podcast in Bonus: The Future of FEST + How to Conference at Shoptalk.