Courtesy Jennifer Kahn
Burlington, Vt.–based designer Jennifer Kahn has raised nearly $9,000 on Kickstarter to help her launch her new collection, Modern Relics 2015. She talked to JCK about her work and why she took to Kickstarter to make it happen.
JCK: Why did you decide to raise funds with Kickstarter?
Jennifer Kahn: I think Kickstarter is a great platform for a preorder for a new product. There is the potential for more exposure, so that’s exciting. It has national, even international reach, and it’s good to get outside of your own group/social sphere. I like the “all or nothing” model and that combined with the time pressure of 30 days creates buzz and excitement.
JCK: Can you tell me a bit about your first Kickstarter?
Kahn: I did my first project, Chakra Kahn Wrap Bracelets, two years ago. I was trying to get one design off the ground, as opposed to this new campaign, which was for a whole collection. It was so helpful to dip a toe into the pool with the process of a preorder, a larger scale order, casting, exposure, and national reach to find potential yoga studios to partner with. It was successfully funded and helped me to peek into the future of wholesaling and production work.
JCK: How will the Kickstarter funds help you grow?
Kahn: The funds are for exhibiting at the wholesale trade show NY NOW this summer at the Javits Center. They will help with the production of the line, displays, catalogs, and advertising, but the bulk of it is paying for my booth space. The cost of the space is so high and it was just this huge obstacle. It puts so much pressure on the show. I can only hope to break even, if it goes really well, because I can fulfill only so many shop orders in time for the holiday season. The real return on investment would come the next year if those shops re-order. It all just felt too risky. Doing the preorder and having this fund to pull from makes it easier to take this leap and also gives me confidence in my new line.
JCK: What has the Kickstarter process been like?
Kahn: The process is time-consuming and stressful! You feel a pressure to do all you can do every day to keep momentum up, it doesn’t just happen on its own. It helps to have a good social media following. I would post about it at least once a day. It’s a hard line to walk because you want to get the word out while trying not to be too annoying and post too much. For the first week, I would send 20–30 private messages a day to friends/customers on Facebook asking them to repost. I would post a new photo of a different piece or pieces every day with a link to the Kickstarter. I got my work into some fashion blogs. I’d respond to comments and questions right away. It means being more attached to social media (mostly Facebook and Instagram) and my phone and computer than the already-too-much time I spend!
JCK: Your campaign has been so successful, any idea why?
Kahn: Well, hopefully, it’s because people really like my new work. I think my rewards were at good price points, and I had something for everyone. People love to get new things at a bit of a discount and before they’re available in stores. The timing of it was good, too, since it had been a long, quiet winter, and my customers hadn’t seen any new work since the holidays. You really have to treat it like a job and keep coaxing it along.