Boof, that is no bla bla. Children fashion with special fabrics, which are comfortable and have a good fit. Clothes for kids who go out and discover their world, clothes that adapt to the kids instead of imposing on them. In that sense, boof is not like a parent but sees eye-to-eye with the young fashionistas. When they climb a tree, the jeans made with hyper stretch denim are nice to wear. The kids love them, they are comfortable and when you look at them you say ‘oh, it’s a nice pair of jeans’.
So this is the Boof way of doing things.
Like the little rascals they make denim and other clothing for, boof does business a little differently. They have their own production in Istanbul, Turkey, where all products are handmade, Aytekin, one of the owners visits all shops and places the highest emphasis on collaboration with all of their retailers.
Both Aytekin and his sister, Ayten, the creative head behind boof, are experiencing a busy time of year with the introduction of a new collection, trade show visits in Amsterdam, Florence, Munich and Copenhagen and of course the launch together with us, here at Fashiontrade.com. Even more so, we are glad Aytekin and Ayten found the time to speak to us and tell us more about their story. Without further ado we will just jump right in:
How did you start boof?
One day, four years ago, my sister proposed to start a business together. She comes from the fashion industry, having worked for a lot of big brands in kids clothing and footwear and I have a commercial background, having started another company, a technical agency, about fifteen years ago. I liked her idea and so that was the starting point for boof. She does the part of designing and asked me to do to the commercial part.
We planned to start with baby shoes as she had most experience in that field but the first time I visited shops most of the owners told us that what they were really looking for were cool jeans. So we went along and made jeans with the signature of boof.
Does the name boof stand for something?
When I imagine boof, it’s naughty. Wild. Curious. No show, no bla bla.
If you say it in Dutch, it’s like boef, like a rascal. There was a film a few years ago called the little rascals, that is the type of character boof is. My and also her children are the inspiration for our brand. They are tricky little rascals, they play outside all day and when they come back in the house and they are very dirty.
So we thought: Our products must be of highest quality because they play all day outside, they must be good looking and have a good fit. And all this together, this is boof.
A nice beginning, how did you start with the designing and production of the clothing?
Our background is Turkish and my sister and her husband have a denim company producing in Turkey and so the connection was easily made to also produce for boof. We produce only in Istanbul, in Turkey which gives us control over the environmental and human-friendly circumstances.
We want to make stuff for children not made by children.
And all of our products are handmade. Even the smallest jeans and other clothes are made by hand, there is no automated system. We work with a lot of big textile suppliers who are working for big brands. So the fabrics we use are from the first selection of good quality denim, from the leading textile manufacturers. We have access to the best selection of denim. When you go abroad to very cheap countries you cannot control if it is made by children or adults. We say no, we want to control our production. The clothes we make must be made in a human and environmentally friendly environment, no child labour.
Our DNA: We want to do it differently from other companies.
We think: If I see something, I want to buy it today and I don’t want to wait a year. Most fashion companies are working with an ordering system, where you have to wait a year. We work differently, we produce constantly and so when a shop owner sees something in our brand store and wants to order it he/she can do so online and will receive it within a week.
Our retailers don’t have to take a big risk. Also, they don’t have to place big orders, they can start small and order every week.
Are there cases of retailer ordering directly?
Yes, we also have a b2b site, where you can directly see what you can order, what is available and most importantly if something is out of stock when it will be available again (2-3 weeks). The system is very open, very clear and straightforward.
How was the beginning for you? How did you start the distribution?
My way of selling is getting into the car with the products in my hand and visiting our customers. One by one we introduced boof. Now, it is mainly networking. After one and a half year we got our own agents, two agents in Holland and one agent in Belgium so the selling is mostly done by our agents and I only do the fun part of the selling. They sell the items and after one or two weeks I will visit the shop owners. When it’s a new shop owner and we think it’s a unique shop, we visit them, take pictures and we write about them on our website and we put it on social media. We are not only selling things but we also try to create some ‘tam tam’, some noise, for them. It’s also branding for the shop. I really like this new role, because when I meet the owners we only talk about fun stuff like our kids, our lives…only the important things. It’s a more easy way of doing business on a long term base.
That is the way we do business, it’s very easy going and straightforward.
Our customers can always reach us. For example, when I go to Ikea, they don’t ask me why I can just bring it back. That’s also the way we deal with our customers, they can send products back and get a credit invoice or new products. Service is very important, we think long term and we are proactive, we don’t wait till the customer comes to us.
How do you interact with your retails after the first contact? Do you visit them often?
We visit each customer at least one or two times a year. Besides that we try to email WhatsApp, facebook….just talk to them, ask how things are going. We are attentive and try to find the best way for each shop. For example, if one color is not selling, we try another one or another model. If our retailers can sell well, we can sell well – so it’s a win-win. We don’t want to see our products going out in a sale, we would rather take them back and give them to another customer who is selling these items. Switching. Why should we produce extra? It’s not good for us and not good for the environment. The same goes for re-ordering. If we only need a model in 128, we will only produce that size. We only produce extra what has been sold.
We tell our retailers we are your suppliers, all you have to do is reorder.
“Think about how you can sell your items as fast as possible, not as big as possible. If you sold one or two items, re-order them so that there is always a full stack of jeans products.”
And how do you see this in the future?
We keep this system and add more customers, also internationally.
There used to be borders but when I look at the logistics systems now they work just as well in the Netherlands as in Germany, Belgium, Italy…. We can ship everything easily in a few days. It doesn’t matter for me if it’s a German, Belgium or Dutch customer, everybody gets free shipping for orders 3 products and up. There is no minimum but we try to get them to buy at least 3 pieces also for the environment to not be constantly shipping boxes. In our system it doesn’t matter where our customers are.
To give us a second perspective on boof, Aytekin whom we have been speaking to all these times, hands the receiver over to his sister, Ayten who is sitting in the same office and has been listening in on the conversation. From time to time I could hear her in the background and it’s nice to have her input as well. She sums up:
We built boof not because we want to make money, but because we want to have a connection with the kids we are dealing with. We have a shop in our hometown, in Eindhoven, and when the kids put our jeans on and look at their mothers and say ‘wow this is a nice jeans’, we are very happy. The kids ask their mothers to wash the jeans again and again and again. Our own kids wear our clothes and that makes us proud…This is what we are in business for!
Boof is not high fashion, we go for basics, also in colours like black and blue. These items can be sold today or next year, it doesn’t matter. We try to swim the other way, not follow the mainstream. We are doing things differently in our system, how we produce, how we communicate.
We don’t come out with a lookbook, we bring a magazine with real stories.
boof – That is no bullshit, this is real. When you order now, three days later you have it in your shop.
We started this business because there is a lot of colourful, happy clothing in the children clothing land. We don’t think children are a billboard for a brand but they have their own mind, their own choice and own comfort. So if you let children choose they don’t choose a brand or jeans with a big logo or a big sign like a commercial but children choose by feeling, comfortable and fit. And that’s exactly what we do differently. We look at the fit and the comfort and special fabric for children.
That’s the main thing: Our fit and fabrics are just a little bit different. We don’t go for easy things, we only use our own developments, we don’t copy. We are a small company with just the two of us, we are short on everything but it also gives us a quick reaction: We don’t need to discover anything in weeks, we can go with what our customer says. It’s very easy.