Back in 2013, I decided to leave my fashion merchandising career to build KiraGrace, a yoga clothing company that sells both online and through our growing wholesale network of independent boutiques.
As a former vice president of merchandising for brands like Lucy, Victoria’s Secret and Gap, I recognized my foremost challenge: How do I create buzz around a yoga brand no one has ever heard of?
I knew I needed to engage the yoga practitioners in my community, the muses who have inspired my small design team and me from the beginning. But I also knew the importance and effectiveness of offering something different and unique that other bigger brands didn’t offer
The answer was creating “product drops” of limited-edition items.
Positioning our brand
Product drops have gained popularity among retailers, large and small, for several reasons. The concept of retailers limiting supply to help generate excitement and demand goes back at least a few decades. But social media now makes it easier to promote and spread the word.
The marketing message is simple: A “limited-edition” product will not be here later if you don’t buy it now. That adds a sense of urgency to the purchase journey and wraps the product in an aura of exclusivity—you can’t get this item anywhere else. (Today’s shoppers love the feeling of buying items that few other people have.)
We actually launched KiraGrace by teaming up with the nonprofit Off the Mat Into the World—an organization that bridges yoga and activism—to introduce a limited-edition tank top with the tagline “Warriors for Change.” We produced a couple thousand of them, and with the support of the nonprofit’s founders, we sold them at yoga conferences and channeled 100% of our profits back to the organization.
That first effort was so successful that we’ve done about eight limited-edition online product drops since. The products are available only once and are usually high-fashion apparel pieces that I’m confident will intrigue yoga enthusiasts. Moreover, because we want to feature unique items that shoppers can’t get elsewhere, we team up with influencers in the yoga community who not only inspire the limited-edition products we create but also help promote them.
Some product drops have led to a huge spike in web traffic. For example, in 2019, when we introduced our first drop, featuring a product designed in collaboration with Kathryn Budig—an internationally celebrated yogi with over 200,000 followers on Instagram— traffic to our website quadrupled on the day we launched the collection.
For a successful limited-edition drop, the “teaser” is important. We’ve now collaborated with Kathryn on four occasions , and our most successful drops are when Kathryn gives sneak peeks of the pieces she’s wearing ahead of the drop by showing reels or posts on her social media channels. She will wear the outfit but not show the entire piece. Or she’ll wear one of the items with messaging about the collection “coming soon!”
Another element to managing a successful drop is the presale. We partner with our influencers to offer the collection for presale about 90 days in advance of a drop. We invite our customers—and the influencer will invite theirs—for a three- or four-day presale. It’s a terrific way to gauge customer demand, and we’ve used this information to edit our assortments or deepen our buys for the final launch.
While product drops have helped us grow our business and create more brand awareness, we’ve learned some lessons along the way. From the very beginning, we formalized most of our agreements with our collaborators; but on the few occasions that we didn’t, we wished we had.
A successful product drop agreement should include compensation, design and marketing agreements that define expectations and commitments on both sides of the partnership. This includes having a product development timeline, photography commitments and a set minimum number of social media posts or emails. Leveraging our influencers’ creative assets to promote the drop on our website and other social media pages expands our reach.
While limited-edition products help introduce new customers to our brand, they also bring new creative ideas to the brand. At the moment, we’re broadening our product offerings to include a wider assortment of luxury athletic leisurewear, dress yoga pants, long-sleeve tops and layering pieces. The limited-edition will continue to be vital as we expand our product lines.Print this article