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Want To Build A Community? This Fashion Brand Has The Playbook To Follow.

By Lauren Hall
6 minute read

BellaDona-01Best friends LaLa Romero and Natalia Durazo co-founded Bella Doña, a Westcoast lifestyle streetwear brand, to celebrate their backgrounds and the spirit of sisterhood.

LaLa's experience in the music industry has given them a unique perspective on building an audience that carries through every aspect of Bella Doña's marketing. Especially their Instagram, which boasts a massive following of 320,000 people.

It's not just about sales. Their focus is community first, everything else second. Their content is inspiring and relatable. Which means it's not always about their brand. It's not always buy, buy, buy. 

Just take a peek at this message they shared recently. 

Bella Dona Instagram Quote

[Source]

Here are a few of the responses:

"I have been feeling so out of place today, even more than usual...this message came right on time 🥺 thank you."

"I needed this I felt so discouraged at work today I wanted to leave on my lunch break and never come back lol this is a great message."

"Today was an odd day for some reason. Then I realized how these last 2 weeks have been mentally and emotionally exhausting."

These are the kinds of thoughtful responses many of their posts get. They feel like messages you'd get from a friend after a tough day. And that's exactly the kind of community they're continuing to build. 

A community designed to build others up. Here's another example of something that doesn't directly benefit their bottom line, but inspires and empowers others to reach for their dreams.

Bella Dona Instagram 3

[Source]

At a time when the apparel industry has been hit really hard, Bella Doña has seen some of the best months ever. And the team attributes it to their ultra-loyal customer base. 

LaLa was kind enough to take the time to share some of the amazing results they've seen recently; like an insane conversion rate, tons of sign ups, and what they've been doing to keep their community engaged while the world is stuck at home.

*Note: This interview took place May 4th, prior to recent events stemming from the Black Lives Matter Movement.

[Lauren] Bella Doña has been seeing record sales in the last few months. Why do you think that is? What have you been doing differently?

[LaLa] It’s such an unprecedented time for everyone around the world.  We truly had no idea what to expect when our city shut down in early March. What came about were record sales for the last 2 months!

We truly have to give all credit and love to our customer base for making this happen. We heavily rely on our social media and photo shoots to promote our products, and typically create fresh content monthly to connect with our base and generate sales. With the new stay at home orders in place, we find ourselves repurposing old content in fresh ways. On the bright side, it's new content to new followers and customers.

And we have gained thousands of new followers recently, thanks to our weekly Instagram Live DJ sets. Our goal is to always be in conversation with our customers (honestly it feels weird calling them customers because they are all really more like our friends now). 

[Lauren] You were able to generate nearly 6,000 sign ups in just 30 days. It's especially impressive because you don't offer a discount code right off the bat like so many other brands do. What went into that decision?

Bella Dona Welcome[LaLa] Our customers know we are going to be very intentional with what we send them. We are deliberate about the content we create and the conversations we spark. Our intention is to add value to their lives, not just create chaos in their inbox.

We don’t offer a code out the gate because we don’t want the relationship to feel solely transactional, we are really trying to make a genuine connection with our customers! One of our brand pillars is sisterhood, so for us it’s like making new friends every day. 

They receive codes and restock alerts, but at the end of the day, sales aren’t our sole motivation when we capture their email. 

[Lauren] Your conversion rate is unbelievable. 6.87% (more recently, this is closer to 10%) compared to an industry standard of 2-5%. What advice do you have for other brands that are trying to improve on that? Is there anything specific you can point to that really moved the needle for you in terms of conversion?

[LaLa] We make products we adore and need! Every product tells a story, and they start out with a bit of selfish motivation, to be honest, but we truly are our own customer! Natalia and I make things we would want to wear first. A unique perspective and authentic brand story is the basis for any successful brand.

For us it’s about creating products that boost our confidence and evoke a sense of pride the moment you put them on! Our customers connect with that and show up for us.

[Lauren] What are your best sellers right now? Is that different from what you normally see?

[LaLa] Our best sellers are our shoe charms and apparel pieces (sweaters and tees) that also have powerful and inspiring messages on them. I think people just want to be comfortable and feel good right now. They want to bring joy into their everyday lives, especially at a time like this.

Our brand mission is to uplift the women who follow and support our brand, so our best sellers have remained pretty consistent.

[Lauren] I saw you guys are doing virtual dance parties right now. Are these the kinds of things that contribute to having such an engaged following?

[LaLa] We know all about the healing power of music! We have another business that throws a monthly party here in LA, typically 900-1200 people attend. Since we can’t all be together on the dance floor, we decided to bring that energy directly into our customers living rooms!

This wasn’t so much a marketing strategy, as our own need to check out and hang out with our friends for a few hours a week. The comment section of the live is so special and says so much about this community we created! It’s everyone just hanging out, having fun “together!” We created Bella Doña because we wanted to connect with like-minded women, and we always keep our focus on that. It’s not always about sales and revenue for us (which accounting doesn’t love!), but it somehow always pays off to stay true to that! 

[Lauren] What's your secret for growing a following on social? Is it frequency of posts, consistency, content? I'm sure it's a little of everything, but what has been your recipe for building a serious following across different channels?

[LaLa] In the past, I have built very large followings across multiple platforms, starting with MySpace in 2006. My brand message is my life message, it’s who I am, so it’s easy for me to talk about it.

Authenticity reigns supreme across all platforms – it cannot be faked. Audiences and customers are savvy and well-informed these days. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest with your customers! We definitely don’t have it all figured out.  What we do know is we love to talk about how we are growing right alongside our customer base. They definitely connect with that and it expands our community. 

Consistency is really important too, we really try to make our posts something folks look forward to every day! 

Topics: Ecommerce Brands Ecommerce Marketing

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