Walking the crowdfunding catwalk looks easy for the nascent global sustainable fashion brand Front Row Society. In their third crowdfunding round on Seedmatch, the fashion label quickly raised €28,000 with the help of thirty three investors, reaching 56% of their €50K goal. The funding limit for the current campaign is €150,000.
In September 2012, and in the spring of 2013, the startup was successfully crowdfunded, collecting a total of €350,000 from confident investors. In recent months, the startup has successfully developed, is expanding abroad into North America and has generated more than €674,000. Current Front Row Society partners include anthropology, Nordstrom, Ludwig Beck, KaDeWe and Fenwick.
Front Row Society engages international artists (one was recently featured at Art Basel Miami) and designers to participate in regular design competitions by submitting their designs to the company. Avid followers of Front Row Society’s “community” – a spry 40,000 registered members – vote on designs to determine which are the most popular and viable. From the most popular designs, Front Row Society produces items such as towels, bags or women’s outerwear, with the plan to continue and upgrade the company’s product range. Currently Front Row Society items are positioned alongside Burberry, Kenzo and Missoni, not bad for a startup.
Back so soon? On its Seedmatch campaign, Front Row Society explains its decision to return to Seedmatch:
“Front Row Society lives and loves the crowd: we believe in the crowd when it comes to design and the selection of our products. We also believe in the crowd when it comes to constructive assistance by investors. Although we have several options open to implement this financing round, we wanted to deliberately return to the Seedmatch crowd alongside our experienced business angels Alexander Schönauer and Harald Meilicke.”
Front Row Society’s business is growing strongly, posting a business valuation of €3,847,000. The planned 2014 sales are €1,470,000. With this latest round of funding, the fashion label will address their biggest challenge: the financing of long cycles between the pre-financing of production and the payment by our customers. “In addition to optimizing the cash flow cycles, we want to once again expand to the next step of our product range. By positioning in the premium segment, there is a chance that we are displayed significantly more in the clothing and handbag collection, which will be available in the spring collection 2015, and experience an additional boost to growth. This also means that we will be stronger at trade shows, especially in the U.S., with a presence of the extended collection,” the campaign highlights. “It is also important in the near term to invest more resources to expand our platform and analytics to become more attractive for our customer community. Although this expansion does not lead directly to online sales, it reinforces the Front Row Society brand and our community, which are both essential ingredients for our long-term success. One concern is simplifying the reputation of designs in the competitions…. Similarly, we want to optimize the page for mobile devices, since a high proportion of the requests are conducted via smart phones.”
CEO and Founder Florian Ellsäßer holds a PhD from Cambridge University with the topic-focus causality conclusions. While a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, he worked mainly in the consumer goods sector and international retail chains, specializing in product development and operational optimization. A few key members of Front Row Society’s entrepreneurial team include Lisa Schoenfelder, who is responsible for finance and logistics, Alexandra Mazzitelli who leads the design team and Claudia Fernandes, who is responsible for social media and the ever-growing community.
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