BUILDING A DISRUPTIVE BRAND
I've had many a conversation over the past couple of months with other business owners, investors, and generally interested parties. Building a business is quite the study in marketing and networking, and it requires you to have a ready answer that can be pulled out at a moment's notice for a series of questions:
But also, and possibly one of the more difficult to capture, is
Why now, indeed. Let's take that back a little bit to "Why Nuorikko", and examine the motives behind the brand itself.
I am not only the CEO, Designer & Founder of Nuorikko, I am a former frustrated bride. 10 years ago, I made my own wedding gown because I couldn’t find any options on the market that even came close to suiting my personal style. Then, as my 10th anniversary and vow renewal approached, I found myself even more frustrated with the lack of options on the market that were not the typical mass-market poufy gown. I decided it was time to do something about it, since it was apparent the bridal industry was comfortable in its stagnant niche, and Nuorikko’s concept was born.
Expanding the Concept
Knowing I was addressing a need in the marketplace, I dove right in and started designing gowns that I wish I could have had available to me during my gown search. But that's just product. As I started to get deeper into building the business, there was another, even more egregious problem that became readily apparent:
The experience of buying a bridal gown is even more antiquated and one-sided than a lot of the product available on the market.
Why was an entire industry forcing savvy, technologically-minded consumers to sit through scheduled, segmented appointments, wait months and months for delivery of the product, and then go find a completely separate professional to actually make the gown wearable?
It became extremely obvious that what I needed to do went a lot deeper than just creating an updated version of a bridal gown. I needed to attack the industry where it lay sleeping, and work on coming up with a better solution to the actual manufacturing and delivery of the product, as well as the general customer experience. Before I knew it, I was building a straight-up technology company, intent on disrupting a $55B industry, with a side of bridal gowns.
The bridal market might be a very niche market, with a one-time consumer, which is undoubtedly the reason it has been allowed to stagnate. However, the greater retail market is experiencing a similar disparity between what the consumer expects and what the shopping experience delivers. Millennials are spending impressive amounts of money on consumer goods, but "retail" is suffering. Why?
"Experience" is the new "sale"
The modern consumer expects more than just a price comparison, or the simple experience of being able to walk into a store and buy something. They are looking for a connection to a brand, a way to identify with what they're purchasing. If you are able to also offer them a direct connection to their purchase, you have started to tap into what the future of retail, and perhaps even commerce, will evolve into. The brands that are thriving in the current market are those that offer more than one option for purchase, and the ability for the consumer to dictate their own experience and connection to the brand.
Nuorikko is not the first brand to offer made-to-order, mass customization of a product. But we are the first to give a bride the chance to design her own look for her wedding day, without sacrificing the specialness that necessarily needs to be attached to a purchase of that import. The fact that we are factory-made in the U.S. just further shortens delivery and production time, and allows the bride to remain even closer to her design.
The Brand Experience
The result of my obsessive designing, redesigning, research, and general evolution of the business is a model that not only shortens the delivery time, reduces the headache, and allows the bride direct feedback into creating a truly special look on her wedding day. It is built to evoke emotion and create a connection with a generation.
We are not just building a disruptive business model, or looking to enter white space in the bridal market. We are building a brand, with the intent to create an experience and a brand vision that inspires loyal followers and influencers and intrinsically translates my "why" into a brand that resonates so deeply with the modern consumer that they fall in love with it. The product, even the technology, are just pieces of a greater whole that is meant to drive an industry forward, and create a new generation of brides that are allowed to dictate their own bridal shopping experience. We may be one of the first, but I hope that we are just the beginning of an evolution.
Photo Credit: Shanna M. Photography, Picture This Photography