“Can I meet the sew shop’s minimums?”
“How many units should I produce?”
“Do you think I’ll be able to sell everything?”
These are some of the questions that most independent designers find themselves asking. One of the most difficult steps of the manufacturing process is deciding how many units to produce while simultaneously raising money to fund production.
A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Buoy Up, a tech startup that is offering a solution to these questions.
Buoy Up is essentially the Kickstarter of fashion. The platform (still in beta) features products from independent fashion designers for a limited time. The designer sets a minimum order number for production, as well as the price per piece. Similar to Kickstarter, if enough “backers” like the piece and the designer reaches his/her goal, then backers’ credit cards are charged and the piece goes into production.
I spoke to the founders of Buoy Up about how their startup is changing the landscape of independent design by reducing waste in the fashion industry and making it easier for startup designers to get off the ground.
Shannon: What inspired the creation of Buoy Up?
Buoy Up: One of the founders, Shany is a fashion designer. After graduating, Shany worked in the industry for three years in various positions. Wanting to start her own brand, she designed a small collection, started production and encountered all of the difficulties most young designers face.
After getting to know Kickstarter and the idea of crowdfunding, Shany realized that a crowdfunding platform, adapted to fashion, could be a great solution for startup designers. Three of us then set out to build what is known today as Buoy Up.
SW: How does it benefit the designer?
BU: We help aspiring designers with the enormous advantage of knowing customer demand in advanced, so they can avoid holding inventory or selling items at enormous discounts to push excess out the door.
For our designers, Buoy Up is a solution that gives them a better opportunity to compete in the highly competitive market.
SW: How does it benefit the consumer?
BU: We help customers find limited edition items at attractive price points, made by independent designers from all over the world that they cannot find anywhere else. Pre-ordering items on Buoy Up is a way to support the independent industry over the big brands.
SW: What is the social responsibility behind the Buoy Up model?
BU: Designers who are featured on Buoy Up manufacturer their products locally — and support the local economy. Furthermore, all production is based on demand, so there is no excess. It’s important to us that nothing goes to waste.
SW: You’re in beta — are designers able to get involved right now?
BU: Of course! At the moment, we choose the best designs in order to control the platform while we’re in beta. We invite all fashion designers to visit Buoy Up to learn about our method and how we may be a good fit. All designers are invited to contact us with more information about their work, as well as an idea for a limited edition product.
SW: Where are you based? Are you open to international customers?
BU: We are based in Tel Aviv, Israel. We welcome all international customers and international designers. This is part of the concept — customers can find designers from all over the world and designers can broaden their audience to a worldwide distribution.
Buoy Up launched three weeks ago and is currently prepping to release the next products. Designers who are interested in contributing to the next batch of designs are encouraged to apply now. You can learn more about getting involved, either as a designer or a customer, here.