Earlier this year I was introduced (via Instagram) to the colorful children’s clothing brand Huxter, at the same time they happened to be seeking their first ambassadors. I took an instant like not just to the brand, but to the creative mind behind it Sophie Bell-Carr and so applied (successfully) to work with them.
What makes Huxter unique is that their items combine a main fabric which the customer chooses with a trim fabric which is chosen for you. My favourite Huxter top of Theo’s is a bold clash of dinosaur print and stripes, something I never would have put together but which just works brilliantly and Theo wears it all the time. In fact he has a “Sophie drawer” just for his Huxter things.
Over the last few months I’ve watched in admiration as Sophie’s business has grown, taking on a seamstress and a premises as the orders have gone from strength to strength. I wanted to find out a little more about the business and how Sophie has used social media to fuel its growth, so I decided to ask her a few questions and also to share some of the images of my kids in her clothing.
Can you tell us a bit about your business and how it got started?
Huxter started in the spare bedroom of our house in Paderborn, Germany. Rob was serving out there, I hadn’t really been able to work for 5 years as we were moving every 9 months and I’d had two babies but I was starting to get a little bored not using my brain. I have always loved sewing from a young age and my sewing machine went on every post with us. I didn’t even send it in the container to Cyprus, I took in on the trooper as hand luggage so I would have it as soon as I got there!
Buster was 4 and Hux was 1 and I was just so bored with all the brown, uncomfortable, skinny jean kind of clothes for the boys. Germany is still quite ‘old school’ when it comes to sewing and there are still a plethora of sewing and fabric shops around. I literally stumbled across one in a local village one day and found all the amazing jerseys they sell out there, I’d never sewn jersey before and, even as a pretty accomplished seamstress, even I was scared!
The lady who owns that shop is now a dear friend and I go to all the European fabric shows with her! Anyway, I bought some fabric, tried out sewing it on my ‘normal’ sewing machine, loved working with it, asked for an overlocker for Christmas and the rest is history! People started asking me where I got the boys clothes from, they asked me to make them things and Huxter was born.
Handmade clothing is quite a saturated market, but yet you have a full order book and a growing audience, why do you think Huxter has been so successful?
Handmade clothing is most certainly a saturated market but I like to think that I am doing things just a little differently. Most of the small independent companies only have five or so fabrics for each design of clothing and many of them make the clothes up in a few sizes and then sell. As we make everything to order it means that we can offer many more fabrics which then makes each item even more individual to the customer. That twinned with the fact we choose the coordinating fabric makes each item completely unique, I like to think people like that.
Another thing that Huxter does is only order in each fabric once, 10m comes in and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I have only made the exception ONCE with a skull fabric and that was because I could only get 4m in the first time I ordered it. I am awaiting the next delivery, however, I think all the pre-orders mean it is nearly gone
before it arrives in!
How important has social media been to help grow your brand?
Social media has been pretty much the one and only thing that has grown my business, well, that and bloody hard work! As I was living in the Military community a great deal of my first orders were through the wives. However, word spread over Facebook and then ultimately Instagram and Pinterest. It has been the best marketing tool I could have asked for, especially as my brand is so visual, that most certainly helps with selling it!
Why did you decide to do an ambassador program and how has it helped Huxter grow?
I was struggling to grow my Instagram following and I just asked on one of my posts one day if anyone had any ideas. A lovely lady suggested that I ask for Brand Reps and it went from there. It has been fantastic for me as it has grown my audience but I have also got some amazing photographs from it. It’s a win win for both myself and the reps. My only negative is that I have found it hard to send out the clothes often enough to the reps and I feel I have let them down. I am so swamped with orders that they take precedence over the Brand Reps, it’s really frustrating for me.
What aspect of social media do you like most? Which aspect do you like least?
I love Social Media because, whilst you are building a brand you almost build a family with your followers. I feel I am friends with people I have never met before and it’s comforting! I don’t necessarily like that I am almost ‘selling’ my family online though. I know that it is absolutely my choice but you do lay yourself bare a little for criticism and, sadly, there are still people out there who like to criticise, however nice you are! I have definitely found that I rarely post on my ‘personal’ Facebook page now as my whole working life is consumed with social media, I like to leave it out of my private life.
What’s your favourite social platform and why?
I like all my social media platforms for different reasons but, if I were to be pushed, it would probably have to be Instagram with Pinterest as a close second! I just love the images, I think that a picture can say a thousand words and I can spend hours looking for inspiration on both platforms.
If you were starting again from scratch is there anything you’d do differently in terms of marketing and/or social media?
You know what, if I was starting again from scratch I really don’t think there is anything I would do differently. Huxter has grown organically which has been absolutely perfect for me, my family and my sanity! It is growing quite rapidly now which I love but initially I needed to learn the ropes and not have any pressure. Had I known what I was getting myself in to I probably would have panicked a lot more about ‘what people think’ and ‘am I doing it right’ whereas I have been able to develop my own style and personality online in my own time which has then ultimately built my brand. Obviously I would love to be bigger and have more followers but that is coming! More people hear about us every single day and that is all I can ask for.
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