In this week’s client catch up, we spoke with Sally Briggs from Step One - an underwear brand that's less than 5 years old and already a multi million dollar brand with significant global sales. Built using social media initially, the company began building momentum and by 2019 were billing $14 million and this grew to a whopping $35 million in 2020! We caught up with Sally to learn about how the brand unlocked the power of influencers, social media, digital ads and content creators to build a loyal following and drive revenue.
Tell us about the Step One brand
Our brand is built on the ethos that good quality, comfortable underwear should be accessible to all no matter your size, gender etc. Step One began when our founder/CEO Greg Taylor sought out to make a product that stopped chafing in its tracks. In the 5 years that our brand has grown we have seen many highs and lows and never stopped learning! The brand identity is fun, irreverent and quirky.
How has digital marketing changed in the underwear industry after covid? How has the pandemic affected online sales of underwear?
Our company was lucky that we had a massive bank of content that we were able to utilise and turn into ads even without doing shoots which was a lifesaver for us, when I know many brands weren't able to shoot. These days while we still do shoot a lot of content ourselves, we also utilise influencers and content creators to produce UGC for us which is great to get a diverse mix of content!
Step one has nearly 45k followers on IG! What would you attribute most to your success on social media?
Consistency is 100% key when it comes to growing followers on any social media platform - we certainly notice an increase in followers when we post every day and mix up our content style - such as including funny memes or reels. Our engagement always seems to be the highest when we open up the conversation to our followers and get them involved, such as guessing what our next colour launch is going to be called, asking them to compare their underwear habits to the title of a movie (Lethal Weapon was our personal favourite). Of course, a cohesive social media presence also helps increase followers, which includes having influencers making content for us and sharing our product with their communities.
Can you tell us a little bit about the jobs you use theright.fit for?
The majority of jobs we post on theright.fit are to find influencers who are happy to make repeat content for us - user generated content is really important to us as a brand. TRF is great for booking someone once, getting content back and if it's good, rebooking that same influencer or content and repeating the process all over again. My latest campaign on TRF has been about finding content creators purely for UGC, they don't need to post on their on channels. So those who are able to send us several raw clips that we are able to edit in house, add voiceover and run as ad, which are incredible effective for us.. We also use theright.fit to cast for photo shoots as there is obviously an abundance of models & actors on TRF!
Tell us about your casting process - how do you find people, and what do you look for in casting?
I don’t tend to have tight specifications when it comes to casting for influencer talent - things that catch my eye are visiting their profile on TRF and seeing their portfolio & reviews, then checking their Instagram and seeing high-quality content that they have produced for other brands - this is always a good indicator of what you’re going to get back from them. I also look for people who express an interest in sustainability as this is a good alignment with our brand. I also look and check that they haven’t recently posted with a competitor brand as this obviously immediately negates the authenticity of their post with us. Having inbuilt analytics tools on TRF makes this a lot easier.
You've worked with curve and plus-size models. Has the type of models you cast changed over time? What drives your selection of talent?
When Step One first started we saw the most success with ads that featured a bigger bloke. Something that set us apart from the get-go was featuring talent that were “normal” looking and looked like they’d actually use an anti-chafe underwear. When we introduced the Women’s Range, casting became slightly more challenging. Looking back on some of our early shoots I am proud of the diversity we had in the talent and our customers also commented on the fact that we were representing a range of women. Something I would have maybe done differently is including some more diversity in terms of age, which we just did in a recent shoot that has turned out beautifully. With shoots we obviously want models who take direction well and aren’t afraid to have fun and be a bit goofy/get out of their comfort zone. Its great to be able to see their show reels on TRF so we get an idea of their personalities before they come in.
Why did you select the talent you selected?
Casting for Step One is very fluid and changes depending on the type of shoots we are doing. Sometimes I'll need to cast a 45 year old bloke that looks like he lives on a farm in rural Australia, other shoots we need girls who look more like what you see on your Instagram feed. It’s so handy to have a one stop shop with TRF to do this. To use the initial Women’s shoot as an example, the talent had to represent sizes XS-3XL, which obviously made casting quite specific. When casting talent one of the things we always look for on their profiles are shots where they are smiling and looking happy - as we’re a brand that wants to showcase this vibe in our campaigns, so we need to know that the talent can nail that style of shot.
What were the results/outcomes?
Again using the Women’s shoot as an example, we were incredibly happy with how it turned out! We worked so hard on the women's range and everything that went into the launch. The response we got back was above and beyond our wildest expectations and really solidified that we had done something right, from the product to the casting to the final result of the launch.
What is something models should know about working on campaigns in the underwear industry?
The most important thing for me is making sure the models/talent feel comfortable with the team so I always make sure that anyone who will be in the studio introduces themselves first, we always have fun music playing when we can in the studio to make it less awkward and always provide a yummy lunch.
For the talent themselves my biggest tips would be to arrive 10 minutes early to get familiar with everyone on set, so we can kick off on time & with enough time to get you changed, do lighting checks etc.
Bring with you a mini hair and makeup kit for touch ups throughout the day as it can get hot in studios Take direction from the crew and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help with anything! It’s also helpful to bring a book, your laptop or your phone or anything to entertain yourself - shoots often come with a lot of waiting between shots or with set changes.