Klaus Buchroithner runs the streetwear label Vresh and with his campaigns he regularly makes it into the headlines of various newspapers and online magazines. With his Vresh Box he attracted investors to finance his independent label by rewarding them with a special edition of individually designed T-shirts and a small, symbolic stake of his company. With his “Zuckerberg shirt” he even gained international media coverage by promoting a basic grey shirt, very similar to the one Mark Zuckerberg is wearing all the time. And for the production of his Vresh Jeans he turned to Crowdfunding and ran three campaigns, two of them successful. In an interview he told us his story and how Crowdfunding helped him boosting his fashion start-up.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You are running your fashion label Vresh for several years now. Please tell us more about it and how everything started?
Klaus Buchroithner: Vresh is a sustainable streetwear label. From 2019 we will exclusively produce basic styles from organic and recycled materials in cooperation with small family businesses in the EU. I have been working in the textile business for more than 12 years and everything started with the crazy idea of my brother, opening a Skateshop in our small city of Eferding/Austria. Soon it developed into a textile wholesale business with which we distributed international brands in Austria and Hungary. During my school time I took over the shop and opened a second shop in another city. Since the support of the brands was often bad for small retailers like me and the margin was too small, I decided to establish my own brand in the end of 2012 and do a lot better.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You are producing jeans for almost a year and a half. The first series was financed with Crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Why Crowdfunding?
Klaus: In my opinion, Crowdfunding is a perfect tool for launching a new product on the market. You can’t expect to raise a huge sum without your own community and engagement, but if you’re willing to invest some time and money, you get good feedback from the market, some pre-orders that you can convert into long-term customers and generally a lot of attention.
Crowd-Fund-Port: How did you prepare for the first Kickstarter campaign back then?
Klaus: I’ve been following the topic of Crowdfunding for quite some time and looked at many campaigns and researched the background. There is a lot of reading material on the Internet now and of course the consulting appointments with you (note: the interview was conducted by Crowd-Fund-Port partner Wolfgang Gumpelmaier-Mach of ikosom.de/Crowdfunding-Service.com) were also very helpful. External consulting helped us to implement the project better. For example, we re-recorded our video after some people in our community suggested improvements.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You also started a Crowdfunding campaign on wemakeit, unfortunately without success. What experiences did you have with the two campaigns?
Klaus: Basically, you can’t expect too much from the individual platforms. That was certainly better a year or two ago. They can give you a good boost, but most of the work you have to for yourself. Our failed campaign on wemakeit was no coincidence. We launched the campaign about a month too late, and then the temperature rose unusually strong. It’s very difficult to sell jeans at summer temperatures, even if you deliver them in September. That was certainly a great learning for me – starting the campaign during the season and not before.
Crowd-Fund-Port: To what extent did this experience help you in planning and implementing your last (third) campaign on Indiegogo and why did you crowdfund jeans again?
Klaus: We concentrated on the essentials and offered a product that already worked well the first time. This time we took the feedback of the first campaign and adapted the product accordingly. Only the change from Kickstarter to Indiegogo was a mistake. We already had 200 satisfied customers on Kickstarter, they probably would have been ready to buy. A new account on a (for the user) unknown platform is a big hurdle, especially in Austria and Germany – combined with the payment method credit card. But because we already had some experience, we knew on which channels it would be worthwhile to be present during the campaign and that’s how we pulled this off in the end.
Crowd-Fund-Port: I know you work a lot with your community and let them participate in the process of creation. Is that your secret recipe?
Klaus: That is definitely a very important part for our success. We are currently trying to find ways to involve the community even more actively in branding and try creating a stronger bond. Especially for small independent labels like ours this is essential.
Crowd-Fund-Port: Do you see Crowdfunding as an essential part of your (communication) work?
Klaus: It is definitely a good instrument, especially if you offer innovative products. For us, such a campaign can always be the market launch for a completely new product segment. You get a lot of attention and see whether something is working or not.
Crowd-Fund-Port: What’s coming next? Will there be more Vresh-Crowdfunding-campaigns?
Klaus: I can imagine bringing an entire collection onto the market by pre-selling it via our own website. The parts that sell well are added to the collection and if they don’t work, they’re not getting produced.
Crowd-Fund-Port: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck!
This interview was originally published in German on Crowdfunding-Service.com.