February’s – ‘The Love Issue’ – Download Now
Founder of the brand Ru & Rocka, Katherine Barlow tells us why timing is everything and the secret to overnight success.
What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?
I kick start every morning with a coffee – I can’t survive without my morning coffee. I then get myself ready to head to the office. I am a skincare & makeup lover so I sit for around 20 minutes each morning to ensure I feel my best before heading out the door. This sets me up with a good mindset for the day.
What is at the heart of Ru & Rocka’s DNA as a brand?
I wanted to create a brand that incorporates everyday loungewear basics with a twist. We love anything to do with palm trees – they make us feel happy and remind us of that summer feeling. We knew we wanted this to be a key part of our brand. For our first collection, it was important to start with the basics – black, white and grey – we think everyone needs a staple pair of grey joggers in their wardrobe.
What has been the biggest hurdle since launching and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest hurdles we have faced is trying to predict stock levels and being able to restock sold out products, fast. We know there is nothing worse than going to add to the cart and seeing ‘sold out’.
How do you think last year affected the growth in popularity of loungewear brands?
We launched our collection in June 2020 during the first lockdown in the UK. Due to it being the year of ‘staying at home’ loungewear has grown massively within the fashion industry and we feel so lucky to be a part of that. I think it has changed people’s view on fashion and comfort has become key!
The price point of Ru & Rocka is accessible- was this a key factor from the outset?
Yes. I wanted to create a brand that was affordable yet great quality. We are currently working on a new collection for Summer 2020, we are always looking to grow and improve yet maintain an accessible price point.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path?
I wouldn’t say I have a mentor or guide as such however I have met many people within the industry, some of which have now become good friends. It’s good to talk and discuss thoughts and ideas and help each other through the journey.
Where do you produce the pieces and how challenging was the process to refine this process?
Our products are currently finished in the UK. It took months of samples before getting to the end product. We are always learning new things and experimenting with new designs.
As a young brand, what is your approach to scaling the business?
We would like to grow our product range and develop Ru & Rocka into a recognised brand globally. We love it when we get tagged in a post seeing our customers from all over the world wearing our brand. We are currently selling very well in the UAE, throughout European and as far as Japan.
Which colourways / designs have been most popular to date and was this as you predicted?
2020 is all about green. Our best sellers have been our mint green palm sweater followed by our white zipper with green palm. We didn’t 100% know this would be the case however we knew green has proven to be very on-trend and knew we wanted to incorporate that into our collection.
You have clients the globe over – do you see any buying patterns based on regions or countries?
Yes, one of our strongest regions is Scandinavia. Their style is so effortless and thrown together, we think they always look super cool. We are noticing a lot of big influencers arising from Scandinavia and I think this plays a big part in brand growth as they are always posting and tagging us in their photos wearing Ru & Rocka. We also have seen a growth in sales within the UAE in recent months and also noticed returning customers which we love to see.
What in this market is luxury?
We feel that being comfortable in what you wear is a luxury. Being able to take a Ru & Rocka tracksuit and having the option of adding a structured blazer or coat over the top to elevate your outfit into something more. We love the effortlessly chic look and we believe this market is just that.
How do you approach client engagement and retention?
We are big on social media engagement. We like to shoot and post our products in different ways to show our customers the versatility of each item to keep them engaged. We also like to share real customer photos wearing Ru & Rocka as well as influences to show a more personal side to the brand.
How has social media affected building Ru & Rocka?
Social media for us is everything. Being able to share one photo at the push of a button and it be seen across the world is mind-blowing really. The majority of our website sales are referred from Instagram.
Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?
We love to follow lifestyle pages and of course fashion influencers. Some of our favourites include; @spaporterlondon, @hannaschonberg and @sofiamccoelho
What advice would you give to your younger self, starting out?
I wish I had started the brand sooner. I would say when starting out there is never a perfect time. The world changed dramatically this year and people’s way of thinking is different. I really believe small brands can now compete with more established names as they offer a much more personal service and people are realising the importance of shopping with independent brands. I would advise anyone who is thinking to start their own business to just go for it.
If you had not launched Ru & Rocka, which other role would you choose career-wise?
This is a tough one to answer as I haven’t given it much thought. I feel this is what I was meant to do and that’s why I have made it succeed.
This issue is ‘The Love Issue’ – what is love to you?
To me, love is when you feel your safest and happiest. 2020 has been tough to say the least and has affected everybody’s lives in different ways. I think it makes you remember the importance of love. We get so wrapped up in our busy day to day lives that we forget to tell those closest people to us how much they mean. Life moves fast and doesn’t wait for anyone. If you love someone, tell them.
February’s – ‘The Love Issue’ – Download Now
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