What is Kickstarter and why have we been asking you about it?

What is Kickstarter and why have we been asking you about it?

Turns out 25% of you have never heard of Kickstarter, which presumably meant you were quite confused by the last question when you filled out the KMD survey last month!

Deadlies being enquiring of mind, I suspect many of you have gone off and looked it up by now, but I thought I should explain what I was on about and more importantly, why.

You probably know that there are lots of industries who have a set way of doing things and pretty much all of them are getting turned upside down by the internet.

(Possibly the smallest trade show stand we ever had, you're looking at 50% of it!)

In lingerie, the standard way when I started about 8 years ago was to contact retailers and meet them at trade shows, convince them to buy in some KMD, and then they would sell it to you. Naturally this always had it's pitfalls  - retailers who never want to pay, large retailers with restrictive terms and conditions, small retailers whose life circumstances change quickly and leave you short . . . but overall it was sort of working. In recent years though, selling to businesses has become a process of increasing effort for decreasing rewards. I thought maybe it was me. Lets face it, I get tired and grumpy and say things I shouldn't. I'm no-ones idea of a natural salesperson. So, I tried having people who were. Both ran headfirst into the exact same problem I had.

Deadlies want innovation, excitement and limited editions. Businesses want continuity, consistency and  . . . beige.

What to do? I vote with you, of course - not only does it make no sense to do what the businesses want (it doesn't actually work, sales wise, for the obvious reason that it's not what you want in the end anyway), but also I didn't get into this to make beige things. Good grief. But I don't have access to the kind of funding that can make you independent of commercial pressures (investors not being noticeably wild about people with flaky disability issues).

The obvious answer is to take the route that most of the creative arts seem to be heading down, which is crowdfunding. As you likely know, that's the process of raising funds for projects from large numbers of people, using the awesome power of the internet to reach as many as possible. That would be in stark contrast to when I started the business, when I raised the money for the first year by asking my mum for a loan and telling the bank I was getting married so I could have one from them too. (This was a long time ago when the banks still gave out loans. Also, no, I never got married).

Kickstarter is probably the biggest website that organises crowdfunding for "bringing creative projects to life". Now, I won't be doing any of that "help take the brand to it's next level" stuff. No. No waffley stuff. Here's THE PLAN.

I have products that are fully sampled and developed and placed with a reliable factory.

Myself and Lydia have grouped them into 5 projects (things like swim, sleep, corsets etc)

Each project will go onto Kickstarter with the option to pledge to buying one of the products, or more than one, or one with lots of shiny presents. In that respect it's pretty similar to when we sell products in advance, except much much more organised - you'll all get proper regular updates, for example.

You'll also be able to make smaller commitments that will get you fun stuff like pin-ups sharks in bathing suits (it was only logical after I got a dinosaur in a bra), or, should any of you turn out to be millionaires, there'll be an option to get a KMD holiday. No, that's all I'm going to say about that. Well, except that obviously both myself and Lydia would, for example, spend some time peeling your grapes and fanning you if you go for it.

We have to meet a minimum target for each Kickstarter to make them workable (if we don't meet that they never take any money from you, don't panic), but I'm pretty confident we can do that, because there's all of you, plus all the people on Kickstarter, plus anyone we can all manage to drag along for the ride. And KMD has managed to release hundreds and hundreds of products in the last 8 years, so we've a bit of practise at this.

So that's what Kickstarter is and that's why I asked you about it.

Basically, I'm putting YOU in charge rather than the stores. The stores can have second pick after you've got what you want!


Some people left specific comments in the survey, so I thought I'd also better respond to those directly.

How likely would you be to pledge to a KMD Kickstarter campaign?

Only if I would get the product I want as a perk

The plan is that the main pledges would be for products, but you could also get perks for smaller and larger amounts.

But probably only if it extends the size range to include my size.

Yes, I plan to do one that would expand the sizes available on the two key lingerie ranges for the winter. It won't be a massive extension as there's a bunch of extra complications that kick in over about a G cup or much past 2XL, but I agree that this would be a good way to untangle the size limitations we've been stuck with for years.

I ticked small amounts as I have no income at present so could only afford to pledge from a dwindling bank account. Would love to pledge a large amount if I could!

Awwww. Yes, as with people in general, Deadlies have a pretty big spread of incomes, so we'll have a "we entertain you but you haven't much cash" option.

I trust you completely but Kickstarter can be a little suspect sometimes.

It is completely true that sometimes some peoples Kickstarters don't work out. There are plenty of people who start off there without having sorted out their manufacturing and logistics in place. We have the factories lined up, we have transport, we have a warehouse to ship things out. There's always the possibility that things will get delayed, but I see us delivering. If we don't, I WILL sort it out another way.

Yes please would love a Kickstarter! Need to have reasonable shipping costs and many pledge tiers

I agree - I have to factor in that between Kickstarter and Stripe (the payment processors) we can expect to lose 10% of anything raised in fees, followed by any VAT due to the UK government, but I think we can still subsidise shipping a bit. And yes, there'll be pledges from £1 to £100,000.

After pledging to various campaigns, I would now like to concentrate on ones which alleviate suffering, but if I was to pledge to a lingerie company, KMD would be very high, if not at the top, of the list.

I like your ethical prioritisation and I agree that we do not alleviate suffering :)

I would need more information before committing to pledging

That seems eminently sensible. We'll be doing videos, detailed product information, photos, detailed pledge information, and I will basically answer pretty much any question you have, barring possibly "can I have the factory owners contact information?"; does that sound OK?

If you can wait until I finish studying then sure!

Time and Deadlies wait for no courses, BUT I certainly plan on being around after you finish too. Also, good luck!

Quite possibly, unless I am able to travel again - in which case, I'm afraid my budget is more likely going to be focused on getting me to the arctic. But I do like KMD and I have supported other Kickstarters in the past.

I also approve of interesting travel plans. Send us a postcard ;)

I don't have a lot of money, especially right now due to stupid medical issues, but I would *love* to support you if you did a Kickstarter to "expand the brand"! (or just to make more fancy pants!) ;)

You should definitely prioritise your health over fancy pants. I really, really mean that.  Living with health problems can be extremely sucky.

Lots of Kickstarter projects fail fast

That is true, and I can see why it would induce worry. But most of those are people who are totally new and don't have a track record of producing things or shipping them, and haven't got their supply lines of infrastructure set up.  At some point I'm going to calculate the number of things we managed to get made and shipped since starting. We have had things with epic delays, but that's why I'm only doing this with the most reliable factories - in 8 years I've had enough chance to notice which ones don't pay attention to what we've actually ordered and which will actually ship exactly what we said. Plus, with an established website, I'm highly invested in sorting things out with anyone who is disappointed for any reason.

I would pledge more if it would bring a store front to NYC

Oh wow, I would love to. But no, not this year. In the long run though, yes, I do believe that this is the way forward to expanding on all fronts and I do think it's useful to have places you can actually see garments in person.  I think conventional stores are a bit dead though - I'd want to do something slightly different and for budget reasons, off the main streets (can you tell I've thought about this already?).

Would pledge even if it wasn't keen on the products for me as l know it would help you expand more in the future

Bingo, it really will.

I would be much more likely to pledge if I don't need to own a credit card to pledge, I don't like Kickstarter because you need to have a credit card to use it. And to get a credit card that I would not use very often I would need to pay even it I don't use it for months. So I dislike credit cards, therefore I dislike Kickstarter.

OK, I've used Kickstarter myself (5 ninjas keep tempting me), and I used a debit card. Pretty much everyone has a debit card. I know when you see the card signs it can be confusing and make you think it's credit cards only, but it's all the same systems, so your debit card will work. It is card payments only though, they can't manage cash or cheques.

Only if I'd get a discount or a freebie in exchange for pledging

I will have a pledge level for you, yes :)

To people who wouldn't kickstart no matter what; that's fair enough, and my hope is that enough people do that we can make enough to have stock on the site of all the styles afterwards.

Any other questions? Put them in the comments!