Sabo Skirt: From Local Blog To International Runway
If this is your first introduction to Sabo Skirt, then there are two key facts you should know about the Brisbane-born label.
One, they are not purveyors of skirts. Two, they are one of Australia’s biggest social media success stories.
How big? Big enough to be included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016 list, big enough to be invited back to show at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) next month and big enough to have been interviewed by CNN.
Five years have passed since Sabo Skirt went from thriving blog to Instagram sensation in a matter of months. But for its co-founders, best friends and now sisters-in-law, Thessy and Yiota Kouzoukas, the two turning points in their entrepreneurial path still burn bright in the back of their minds.
The first was after they installed a tracker on the Sabo Skirt blog and reeled in shock as the numbers climbed into the hundreds from all over the world. Half Sabo Skirt’s current customer base is local while the majority of its international customers reside in the U.S.
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The second turning point was when they took a chance on a Mint Tea dress that went viral within hours of being posted on Instagram. The dress not only sparked “a ridiculous amount of reorders” but also took Sabo Skirt’s stockroom from Thessy’s spare bathroom to a proper warehouse.
Sabo Skirt has been on an upward trajectory since. Its social media platforms host a collective following of over 2 million with 1.6 million on Instagram alone. Their debut at last year’s NYFW saw the launch of a sister label, Sabo Luxe, which was swiftly followed by a Sabo Formal range. And that ascent has only continued this year.
Aside from being featured on the Forbes list, the girls have also launched a new Sport Luxe range, thrown a Sabo Springs party at Coachella and are currently in Santorini shooting a new footwear collection before jetting off to show at fashion’s most prestigious runway.
It is a remarkable journey for two young entrepreneurs who only started blogging because they had a “bit of a shopping problem”. woman with drive spent a day with Thessy and Yiota as they discussed staying ahead on Instagram, being inspired by Greece and the benefits of boot camp.
What do you remember most about the early days?
Yiota: I remember being at home on Saturday and Sunday nights, and putting in that extra time and effort. It was kind of a shock to us. We were still very young and it was a big sacrifice for us. Our friends were going out and we were home…
Thessy: …writing out orders because we did not have an automatic system to print them out. We would handwrite each name and address.
Yiota: I also remember not being taken seriously. We would walk into different stock houses and be looked at a little differently compared to how we are looked at today just because we are older now.
You were early adopters of Instagram. Was that a strategic or accidental move?
Thessy: Our Instagram feed initially focused more on us than on the shop. Our major point of difference was that there were two of us. And people loved the Aussie girl. Once I saw the direct correlation between Instagram and sales, I knew we needed to make it awesome.
Sabo Skirt uses numerous brand ambassadors on Instagram. How many do you have and how do you choose them?
Thessy: We have over 40 brand ambassadors worldwide. I just need to see one great photo on a girl’s Instagram feed and I can get her to mimic it by giving her the right tips. I am constantly on Instagram’s Explore page and going through friends of friends’ photos and the feeds of those they are following. It is a big process to find all these awesome ambassadors.
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How did you take a local fashion label global so quickly?
Yiota: Our blog gave us a unique position because we had such a big international presence there that it allowed us to instantly target a larger market than just Australia or Brisbane. We took it further through Instagram. That really allowed us to push through barriers of location.
Santorini keeps featuring on your Instagram feed. How much does Greece inspire your designs?
Yiota: We wanted our initial Sabo Luxe collection to have a vacation vibe so Greece was our inspiration. Our travels continue to inspire us for all our collections, shoot locations and colour schemes.
Thessy: When you are travelling, you want to wear something that is detailed and awesome so you do not have to pack so many accessories. We try to make all our clothing as easy and ready to wear as possible. Our next shoot in Santorini is again very vacation- inspired.
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Your sense of commitment also extends to your personal fitness regimes, especially boot camp. How has such an intense fitness regime benefited you?
Thessy: Our jobs are very tedious. We are always in front of a computer screen or phone screen. So it is good to get outdoors every day or at least three times a week.
Yiota: Boot camp helps build strength and endurance, which is really important given our long hours at work. And it has given me mental resilience too. I feel I can push through boundaries now. If I am extremely tired, I know I can mentally surpass that and keep working.
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woman with drive ran a competition prior to this interview where we asked our readers to submit their burning question for Sabo Skirt. Here is the winning question by Brighley Gibson – what do you think is the reason for Sabo Skirt’s success above so many other clothing brands and is there anything you would have done differently?
Yiota: Social media has been a very important part of our brand from the beginning and a true driver of our success. It is our connection to our customers and we see direct sales from every single post. It has helped us learn exactly who our customer is and what she does and does not like.
We are selective and mindful of what we upload and put a lot of thought into our posts, only using an image if it is the perfect fit and reflection of our brand. A simple post can change your audience’s perception. This has always been a very important part of our strategy.
We have no regrets and we have taken every mistake or negative as a lesson to learn and grow from.
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