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10 Lessons We’ve Learnt Over The Last 10 Years

10 Lessons We’ve Learnt Over The Last 10 Years

From sustainability to market research, here are the 10 lessons that LCE has learnt over 10 years in the bodywear industry that you can apply to your brand.

This month marks 10 years of London Contour Experts. That’s right, we’ve been around for a full decade – time flies! We have spent 10 years designing, sampling, and manufacturing lingerie, swimwear, and activewear; mentoring our clients, and now even marketing and launching their brands.

Over this past decade, there are many things that we have learned along the way as a business and we decided that our 10 year anniversary is a perfect moment to share our ups and downs with you.

If you are thinking about launching your own brand or are still on your growth journey, make sure to read these tips so that you can learn from our mistakes and experiences.

SUSTAINABILITY IS IN OUR DNA

Sustainability has always played an important role in the LCE journey. Our founder Nichole de Carle launched London Contour Experts after launching her own lingerie brand. When looking for a factory abroad, she quickly realized that their values did not align with her own. It was important to her from the very beginning not only that the products are of the highest quality, but also that the people creating her collections were happy, were paid fairly, and that the sourcing team cared about minimizing fabric wastage. 

It is much easier to have production flexibility and full transparency when producing locally. However, Nichole quickly realized that back in 2012 there was a lack of product design labs specializing in bodywear in the UK.

And this is how London Contour Experts was born, out of a need to help lingerie, swimwear and activewear brands design their collections freely, innovate regularly, and produce their collections locally and ethically.

In a world where sustainability is no longer a choice, but rather a requirement, therefore there is a need for authenticity and transparency within our sourcing and manufacturing processes. That is why it is more important than ever to take advantage of your local manufacturing and work with people who care about the environment as much as you and your customers do.

With that being said here are some ways your brand can become more eco-friendly: 

  • Start by checking out our Sustainable Brand Checklist. 
  • Avoid sourcing wastage. When designing and sourcing, avoid fabrics that are highly water, land, and energy-intensive. There are so many beautiful sustainable fabrics out there that can do the job just as well as your usual fabric. If in doubt, our sourcing team is here to help.
  • Quality over quantity. Seek to create quality, lasting products. Invest in creating small quantities of quality pieces over mass production. This method also allows you to innovate quicker and test new ideas without the risk of sitting on stock for too long. 


Opting for smaller collection runs allows you to test your customers’ appetites instead of risking creating a large number of products that may end up in landfills. If you want to discuss small MOQs, London Contour Experts start with as little as 250 pieces per collection. Drop us a line to find out more.

  • Recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Your garments are not the only part of your process that can be made sustainable, packaging is a great way to take this further.
  • Do your due diligence. Hold your manufacturing facilities to the highest environmental and social standards. Research your sourcing, sampling, and production partners, and check their accreditations if possible choose to produce locally rather than overseas. 

REMEMBER, SMALL STEPS LEAD TO A BETTER SUSTAINABLE FUTURE!

START NOW, GET PERFECT LATER!

Believe it or not, you don’t have to wait until your stars align and everything is absolutely perfect. Never compare your beginning to someone’s middle! 

This is our mantra at LCE, and we want you to know that building a strong, future-proof brand requires time, brand awareness, and investment. 

You don’t have to launch with a 15 piece collection, you can always redesign your logo, and website, and even change your product strategy down the line. Hardly anyone gets it right the first time, but many of us are crippled by indecision and fear of failure. The desire to get it right can inhibit us from getting started. Nothing happens overnight. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way to success. 

Remember, anyone can come up with a good idea, it is the ones who are willing to put in the effort and have the right strategy that will come out the other end.

MARKET RESEARCH IS PARAMOUNT

Market research will fuel your marketing, sales, and PR strategies. Knowing whether there is a need for your product and how you should communicate its importance is key. You need to understand who your competitors are (direct and indirect) but don’t fixate on comparing yourself to them. Spend your time figuring out how to stand out from the crowd and do things better.

You also have to understand your target audience. By knowing your customers’ needs and issues you are able to create a real niche, which always makes product design and marketing easier.

Innovate around your customers’ needs. You ought to be able to adapt to the changing technology, economic and political situations, and fast-growing competition. Some companies are required to evolve quicker than others to stay ahead of the game, which is why we provide business support to our budding entrepreneurs and startup clients through a mentorship program. This incubator program gives you the opportunity to reinforce your business ideas with the industry knowledge of our lingerie, swimwear, and activewear industry support team. Helping you create a roadmap and financial forecast for the business pre-launch.

BEING CONSISTENT IN SETTING CLEAR GOALS AND STRATEGIES ACROSS THE WHOLE BUSINESS

Have you ever looked at two companies in the same industry and wondered what sets them apart from each other? Not knowing which brand you should purchase from.

That is the importance of having a clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP) which will act as a backbone of your entire business. A strong USP will help you position yourself clearly against your competitors and make your customers understand your vision and the lifestyle you’re selling alongside your products. 

There are 3 main things to think about when determining your business strategy:

  • Product USP (Unique Selling Proposition): This is that one thing that sets you apart from your competitors and will make the consumer choose you over them, what more are you bringing to the market? 
  • Marketing strategy: Supporting your business with marketing is essential to its success. This may include social media, email marketing, inbound, content marketing, internal marketing, Public Relations, SEO… 

PR communication: Increased brand awareness is essential to start building relationships and trust with customers, but also to reach those that you may not have before. Create curiosity and excitement around your brand to keep your customers interested.

YOU CAN’T BUILD A LONG TERM FUTURE ON SHORT TERM THINKING

Every entrepreneur wants their venture to be a huge success. However, the majority of people wanting to quit their jobs and start their own business focus on little details and forget to plan for years to come, they lack a clear long-term vision which is paramount in achieving long-term business success.

As a business owner, you need to focus on the long-term success of your business but be willing to make short-term adjustments to get there. At London Contour Experts, we have a clear vision of who we want to be as a business, but we evolve with the world, with our clients, and with the team we employ. Whatever we do and whatever services we add to our offering, it’s always done with our clients and their needs at heart. 

It is important to always keep your business vision in mind, the snapshot into the future that you defined at the beginning of your journey. Your competitive advantage is also a crucial part of your strategy, think about what is going to make your brand unique and stand out in the market. 

An important barrier to a successful strategy would be poor targeting, you need to define clear personas of your target audience in order to better understand their needs and buying habits. These will inevitably evolve through time as you grow so it is important to always update these key steps to stay in line with your long-term strategy.


If you need help with clarifying your vision or need help with putting together your customer and competitor market research, do give us a shout. We are here to help.

 

STAY TRUE TO YOUR VALUES.

You will never regret having said no! 

To sustain growth and credibility for your business, you need to make sure you have the right resources to allocate to your clients’ needs and ambitions. Our goal is to guide our clients toward success while keeping cutting-edge designs and high-quality products with a strong commitment to sustainability. 

You shouldn’t be scared of change! Through time, clients see their branding change, their target customers, competitors, partnerships, and even their market. But only one thing will remain the same, your “why?”. The purpose behind your brand, are you leading through high quality, aesthetic, innovation, inclusivity, sustainability…? As long as you stay true to the values that made you take the leap, you have a greater chance of maintaining consistency and being trustworthy for your clients. 

GO WITH YOUR GUT!

RESEARCH IS KING

Hard data is your best friend! You need to make sure that your product development, growth strategy, and broader business goals are going the right way! 

The research will help you understand if your product is vital and original enough to withstand and succeed in a saturated environment, such as the fashion market. 

However this research should not be restricted to your own plans and strategies, you must also inspect your competitors in order to see what is working for them and what is not so that you can do it better. 

We have seen it with clients and our own brands, research helps them innovate and transform their ideas into formidable brands! Our in-house marketing team knows everything there is to know about our competitors and tries to innovate our strategies, services, and communication channels daily. This does not mean that we want to copy their strategies, quite the opposite. Digging into your unique characteristics as a brand helps to communicate your values and services in an original way.

How about you? Would you like to find out more about the digital strategies that set your competitors apart or what their most successful sales channels are? Are you interested in finding out more about which shapes or colours of swimwear have been best sellers in the UK over the last 12 months? This information is a click of a button away. Give us a shout if you need help.

KEEP LEARNING AND CHALLENGING YOURSELF.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, but there’s nothing worse than stagnation!

The fashion industry is a saturated environment that has ongoing challenges to face, from differentiating yourself and your brand to understanding the ever-changing customer needs and preferences!

As experts in our industry, we need to keep an eye on trends and fabric innovations to make sure we are always leading our clients to the best practices. Throughout the years, we have built a team of researchers who are committed to finding the most original & sustainable fabrics, packaging, website designs, brand identities, and more.

If you are serious about the success of your business, you need to keep on growing. This does not always mean employing a lot of people. Here are three growth must-have strategies:

  • Learning is never over. Keep on acquiring new skills whether you are a hands-on entrepreneur or just want to know what your service providers are talking to you about, try to stay in the know and understand what your business needs across product development, marketing, and PR. Why not start with our free manufacturing and marketing courses. 
  • Do what you love and outsource the rest. As a business owner, you need to wear lots of hats and juggle tasks daily. It’s impossible to stay afloat and do it all on your own. We always recommend our clients to play on their strengths and outsource the rest. Did you know that apart from product design and manufacturing, we also offer marketing, PR, and mentorship? Drop us an email if you’d like to learn more about it.
  • As a business owner, your comfort zone should be outside of your comfort zone. Try to challenge yourself daily; jump on stories, check the back end of your website, try to understand the SEO, speak to a supplier, and get that nice headshot for your website. You are your best brand ambassador, we believe in you!

BUILDING A BUSINESS IN AN ECONOMIC CRISIS

The world belongs to the brave, just like our founder Nichole who launched her brand back in 2008, and our wonderful clients who launched their brands in the midst of the pandemic. Despite popular belief, crisis makes brands stronger and more resilient. Launching your brand in a time of economic adversity makes you more cautious with your spending and therefore become more sustainable long term.

With the past two years being affected by COVID-19 business has been uncertain but luckily for us, the fashion industry has experienced a bit of a phenomenon. Whilst physical stores were deeply impacted, online shopping started to thrive. This crisis actually gave brands higher visibility with consumers and has enabled them to become more connected than ever! 

COVID-19 has affected how businesses work and interact with their customers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Besides, the perfect time to launch a brand doesn’t exist! No matter the current situation there will always be obstacles whether they are internal or external. For our clients that were ready to launch with strong branding and products, we encouraged them to do so and see the situation as an opportunity. 

During the pandemic, the interest and demand for loungewear, lingerie, and activewear increased as everyone was at home and trying to stay fit. This came as an opportunity for our clients and still is one to this day! Despite the lifting of restrictions and people now starting to go back to their day-to-day lives, these consumer habits have stayed. 

On top of consumer habits, social media has also played a huge role during the pandemic which has become a key part of marketing strategies and launching processes. The pandemic allowed platforms such as TikTok to grow exponentially as well as giving even more power to Instagram, yet again providing many opportunities for growing online businesses. 

Economic crises come and go, they may have an impact on your business or the market you plan to launch in but the key takeaway is that you can find the opportunities and make it work. Don’t let anyone stop you!

YOU HAVE ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

We know from experience that you only have seven seconds to make an impression on your customers. Studies have shown that once an individual has made the first impression, they filter every activity from that person or a brand through their assumptions.

First impressions are important as customers will remember them for the rest of your journey with you. At the point of first contact, their impressions of your brand will start to be formed so it’s crucial that you get it right. The experience of the last decade has shown us over and over again that a great first impression could create a customer for a lifetime but if their first interaction with you is a bad one, it’s likely you’ll be losing their business forever.

If a customer perceives branding, for example, as cheap, even if you have spent a considerable amount of money, then it will be hard to get rid of this label from their mind. In a study conducted by Stanford, it was found that the majority of consumers make judgments about a brand’s credibility based on the design of its branding.

If you are branding experts with experience in and understanding of the lingerie, swimwear, or activewear industry, you are set to succeed! If you are not, we advise you to leave the brand development to an expert and let them help you develop your brand identity, packaging, tone of voice, social media, and website look and feel. Check out our Marketing Case Studies to see how we have helped our clients by developing strong brands for them over the years.

We hope that you enjoyed our ten business lessons of the last decade. We hope they help you on your way to success and let you avoid many painful mistakes.

Whatever you do and however you decide to shape your journey, remember to celebrate your successes, however small. One of the great things about working as a luxury lingerie, swimwear, and activewear consultancy means that we have crossed paths with some wonderful brands and entrepreneurs and have proudly been part of their design, marketing, and PR journeys. We celebrate their successes as if they were our own and always lift them up whenever and however we can! There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that we have helped our clients fulfill their vision beyond their wildest dreams and expectations.

We like to work as a team, including our clients in every step of the process to make sure we are not yet another agency, but an actual production or marketing partner that whom our clients can build a firm and trusting relationship for years to come. Although there are many different teams and departments within LCE we always work together to ensure continuity between the different parts of the business. 

If this past decade has taught us anything, it is to just go for it, be kind and be honest with each other and with our clients! So long as you are surrounded by the right team of people who can support you and your business idea, there should be no stopping you! We would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful clients who’ve trusted us with their products and brands, the celebrities and their wonderful stylists who chose us as their go-to lingerie provider, our suppliers and business partners who support us in delivering the best service imaginable and last but definitely not least, we would like to thank our team for always giving their 110% and being the most lovely people one can wish for in their team.

If you made it to the end of this long and emotional blog post, thank you! And if you are looking to take the leap and start your own business, make sure to get in touch so we can help you make your dreams come true.

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