Many consider BaubleBar to be the go-to online retailer for on-trend accessories, and not surprisingly, co-founder Daniella Yacobovsky agrees: "That's where we want to play, and where we want to be." The company didn't start out in 2011 by trying to disrupt. Instead, Yacobovsky believes they won by focusing on authenticity and on their customer's needs. They had a customer that had a core need that wasn't being met. I've long been impressed by BaubleBar's commitment to innovation, enough to invite Yacobovsky to share their story on stage at Innovation Congress 2017.
Here's how they're doing it:
#1: A willingness to learn
The founders, Yacobovsky and Amy Jain, tried to create something that would resonate with themselves first and foremost, but also with a large swath of women like them. Of course, there were surprises along the way. For one, they were surprised by how broad the demographic skewed in terms of age.
Yacobovsky and Jain figured they were marketing to a 28 year-old woman who was largely metropolitan-based, but learned fashion and accessories operate a bit differently: Yacobovsky's mother would never think of borrowing her fashion, but does, on occasion, steal some of her jewelry. So, the biggest surprise to the founders was learning that accessories are a place where a women outside their core demo can play with trend.
#2: Focusing on process
Yacobovsky believes that BaubleBar's differentiator is its process. "We believe that we can service every woman's needs within this category, leveraging our proprietary system," explains Yacobovsky, "because we believe it is a better way of bringing a product to market." There's been some evidence to support her claims: BaubleBar's proprietary design and development processes, which are focused on meeting customers' needs for on-trend products with a blazingly fast turnaround time, are some of the startup's key differentiators.
A trend might be spotted on the runway or even in an Instagram influencer's feed. From that point, an accessory could be on sale within just two months - a turnaround time that was previously unheard of in the category. A large portion of BaubleBar's headcount is allocated to their product team, with roughly 1 in 4 of those team members focused on adapting trends into saleable products.
BaubleBar constantly iterates on its process to become faster and smarter on an ongoing basis. The company isn't shy about talking about its data-centric approach. Its marketing team drills down by age, geography, preferences for different colors, and many other criteria to understand what resonates with different customers: not just what she's purchasing, but also what she's sharing with friends. "We're always making decisions off of how much information we have in our systems, and that allows us to be better at bringing her exactly what she wants," Yacobovsky tells me. "That's really what we're bringing to the table, to feed back to the customer." The company doesn't just use this to figure out what to make: it also uses this to figure out what it should be talking about as a brand.
#3: A thoughtful brand extension
The brand's proprietary design and product development systems clearly differentiate it within the market; they've used those differentiators to build a powerful brand. Yet at the same time, Yacobovsky recognizes they can't serve every demo through the core BaubleBar brand because then it becomes diluted and it doesn't stand for anything. As a result, Yacobovsky and Jain have built a new brand, SugarFix by BaubleBar, an exclusive partnership with Target.
SugarFix has a great opportunity for the brand's leadership to be able to speak to a different demographic and a different woman with a different product. This woman is looking for a different price point and elevated fashion. A quick analysis of the two lines exhibits that the way they're marketed is extremely different. The collaboration will offer a collection of fashion-forward accessories, including bracelets, rings, necklaces, and earrings, with new pieces being released online and in brick-and-mortar on a monthly basis.
The SugarFix opportunity was a massive one and one that Yacobovsky and team were extremely excited about. "We love Target," explains Yacobovsky. "They've been unbelievable partners, extremely forward-thinking, and innovative." Whenever a smaller company works with a larger company, there is always the question of whether they can operate in a similar? BaubleBar prides itself on being scrappy, and it's hard to imagine a massive brand like Target keeping pace. Yet, it's clear that Target has been an "awesome partner," in Yacobovsky's words. It was a no-brainer for BaubleBar, given that Target is such a spectacular brand and a good company to work with to boot. Moreover, the opportunity "laddered up" to BaubleBar's core goal and it gave the brand an opportunity to reach a new demographic and increase distribution. Yacobovsky says, "We're always thinking of, how do we innovate and do things that are different and push us forward and push the envelope?"
#4: Measuring success
As for how Yacobovsky knows BaubleBar is moving in the right direction? Her team religiously monitors not just overall traffic, but sources of traffic as well. Repeat rate of existing customers is another important metric, as is the retention rate of newly acquired customers. "We track NPS score religiously," she adds. "We're polling new customers. We're looking to see how frequently she comes back." By all accounts, whether it's the core BaubleBar customer or the new fans being drawn to SugarFix, it appears as if that customer is coming back, and often.