Canadian designers turn to crowdfunding to boost brand and bottom line

The Globe and Mail | Lauren La Rose | May 30, 2014

Luevo project by Dylan Uscher 300x219 - Canadian designers turn to crowdfunding to boost brand and bottom lineDylan Uscher works mainly with independent boutiques to feature his creations, but the designer hopes his foray into crowdfunding will help elevate the profile and bottom line of his budding brand.

The self-taught American designer recently moved back to Boston after eight years in Toronto where he launched Dylanium Knits in 2010.

Uscher has partnered with Luevo — a Canadian crowdfunding platform for designers — to help pre-sell his fall collection of knitwear inspired by Florentine architecture. His online campaign ends June 15.

“It’s always a struggle when you’re an independent business owner because you have to work really hard to get the very little that you have,” Uscher said. “This just seemed like a really great outlet to try and get some new sales.”

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All items in his collection featured on Luevo are 15 per cent less than the suggested retail price. And Uscher will only produce them if the products reach designated targets among customers who’ve pledged to purchase the designs, which include scarves, a slouch hat and cape.

“Instead of using hypothetical market research or numbers that someone else has designed, you can put your own products out there and really test ... what products are going to work and what colours work and what doesn’t,” Uscher said.

“I think that’s the really interesting way to approach it without having to go through all of the process of producing the items yourself and hoping that they sell.”

Luevo co-founder Ana Caracaleanu said the site launched with its first designers in March and plans to keep the number of labels featured in their “curated marketplace” to under 10 for now, with campaigns of 30 to 45 days.

Luevo takes a 15 per cent commission from successfully funded projects but also works to support designers in other ways such as editing news releases and producing written content, she added.

“For the designers, the value that we bring is our technology to crowdsource items that are not yet produced. They don’t have to pull the inventory,” Caracaleanu said. “They could use us as a step in growing their businesses or scaling up, and then taking their productions to a larger site where they may be requested to have ... the inventory to put their items there.”

Christopher Charlesworth is co-founder of HiveWire, a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing solutions provider. He isn’t surprised to see designers pursuing crowdfunding as capital- and buzz-building strategy.

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