As countries go, Latvia is a lingerie powerhouse – within the EU only France has a higher concentration of lingerie manufacturers. Time to meet one of these ambitious companies, then. Say hello to Riga-based Flash You and Me.
Founder Līva Šteina gives readers a flash (pun thoroughly intended) of what’s going on in the company.
BRIAN GRAY: First things first, Līva, tell us the story behind Flash You and Me. When did it begin, what were your motivations and inspirations for it?
LĪVA ŠTEINA: It all began at the end of 2013. Myself and my husband had just returned to Latvia after living abroad for several years and we just wanted to grow some roots. We both entered Master’s studies, created a company and also a family. Flash You and Me actually started as an underwear brand that made cute couples underwear sets from cotton jerseys. We started exploring lingerie only a year later as a side project to increase sales in summer time. Our motivation and also inspiration at the same time was always love – our love, our customers’ love and love for what we do. With our products we are just trying to undress love to its most pure essence.
What made you decide on the name ‘Flash You and Me’, and what is your overall mission with the brand?
The original name was FL*SH, meaning that the * could be A, I or E, but when we launched our lingerie collection, we settled on the name FLASH You and Me, because we just wanted to create lingerie, that, when put on, would make you want to flash someone.
Who is the typical Flash You and Me customer? What are their particular wants and needs that you cater for?
Our customer is not typical. She is strong in her beliefs, she is a risk taker, inventive and curious soul. She seeks the good things in life, plans for them and gets them. Flash You and Me supplies them with quality lingerie, that combines the need for comfort, sensuality and creativity.
What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Fierce, reliable, adventurous
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
We use social media tools to stay in contact with our customers. As we are a rather small company, we have the luxury of providing individual contact with them. Customer service is very important to us. We also do a lot of collaborations with great photographers around the world. I love collaborations in all its forms: for instance at the beginning of this year, we collaborated with another clothing brand to create the “Enchanted” collection and it turned out to be a huge success.
You blog regularly on your website. Was it a conscious decision to choose blogging as your main content marketing vehicle compared with other techniques? How effective are you finding it to be, and how does it compare with the other marketing methods you employ?
I actually started blogging only recently. The main reason for this decision was to educate about our products and lingerie business in whole and also to tell the story behind everything. As we are not just blindly making the same five designs in different colours every year, there is always a story behind everything that happens at Flash You and Me and I wanted people to have a chance to know it. Also, a lot of our products are transformable and have room for creativity so I blog to let our customers know about the tips and hacks.
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Well, the biggest challenge was probably to gain trust in my decisions. We tried out every standard marketing method that there was – Google AdWords, advertising on social media and magazines, but we understood that we do not comply with the standard market base and customer. We needed to create our own path and follow it in good trust. So we just took the risk, held our heads high and let things happen. It has been a constant road of experiments.
What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the erotic retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
The most important thing is not to follow blindly any trend. Everything has to be tried on, to see if it actually fits. The challenge is not to do something that has worked for somebody else, but to actually check if that’s for us and our brand.
What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
I think our road consists of constant highlights. As I am very involved with every process in Flash You and Me, I can see, feel and compare the process of all things. For instance – photography – I think that it just gets better with every session that we do. I am a perfectionist so I also constantly perfect our products, production techniques and our material suppliers. If I would have to name only one, I would say that the highlight of Flash You and Me is the constant progress I feel. The close second would probably be our first fashion show in 2015.
You’re running Flash You and Me (including some stunning photographic images) and also have two boys (of very different sizes!) in your life as well. You have to wear a number of different ‘hats’ on any given day. How do you stay sane?! How do you manage your efforts accordingly in terms of goals and objective setting but also maintaining some semblance of a life outside it all?
I only have one little boy to take care of in my everyday life. The other one is my husband’s first born son ☺ So how do I stay sane? First of all, I let myself get a bit insane every once in a while. As my day is full of different roles and I have to constantly present myself as a different person, my dream holiday is to go to work on a Saturday, when there is nobody inside and watch a movie, so basically I get my rest by not working at work on a day off or by restfully working on my photos at home. The more intense brain work my work asks of me, the more zombies I have to catch at home with my son (yes, he has an imaginary friend who is a very small zombie) or the more I have to exhaust myself at the gym. My sanity hides in balance – I actually love to work a lot, but I also leave some time to exhaust myself in other fields of life.
And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Flash You and Me?
Probably something fantastic! I love to challenge myself – last year it was a swimwear collection, this year it was active wear, but next year I would actually love to make a little retrospective presentation of all the good that we have experienced over the years – in a form of a photo and story book.
ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!
Until next time!