We had the chance to speak with Joanneke Raadsen, Founder and Designer of LoFff, a Dutch brand dedicated to girls (from 3 months to 16) and she’s got a story worth sharing! This multi-talented woman is also the Director of Zazi Brands: an independent company housing six kids fashion brands.
How does she manage LoFff together with five other brands? How does she use FashionTrade to stay competitive? Read our interview with her!
When did you decide to start LoFff and why?
I decided to start LoFff in 2005. Prior to that, I owned another kidswear company but it wasn’t working so well. As it was my first brand ownership experience, I made a lot of mistakes and needed a fresh start. This is how LoFff was born: from the idea to learn from my mistakes and make things right!
Where does the name LoFff come from?
It comes from 2 very positive words that I think sound nice and funny: ‘love’ and ‘laugh’. In addition, I think that LoFff sounds good in many languages.
The spelling has a very pragmatic explanation. When I first tried to create our website and register LoFf.com, I saw that it was already taken! So I had to add a third ‘F’ to be able to keep the name I loved. Brand owner tip: don’t forget to check that your dream name is available online before moving forward with your company!
LoFff is part of Zazi Brands, a parent company that now includes 6 brands. What motivates you to create new brands?
Over the years, we decided to diversify in order to distribute the business risk and spread the joy! Creating new brands is also something I simply find fun and just love to do. Right now we have 3 designers at Zazi to support all the brands. I also think that it’s my role as a Director to have a strong vision and continue growing the company.
I have also noticed that LoFff, which is what we can call a “traditional” girls brand has gained more international traction than here in The Netherlands. Our other brands are stronger in the Netherlands because the Dutch market is more advanced. So, creating new brands also addresses the needs and tastes of different markets.
Where do you find so much inspiration?
It all comes from within the company. I have the chance to work with a diverse and experienced team every day and we just love developing products together. There is a lot of inspiration flowing between us! I also read (not usually about fashion) and travel a lot, but I try not to look too hard at what others do. I don’t want to be tempted to copy, whether consciously or not!
LoFff Summer 18 collection
You sell internationally including Ireland, Germany & Japan! How did you find these retailers? In which countries would you like to develop more?
In countries where we sell in several shops, like Germany or Ireland, we worked with agents who found the retailers for us. In markets where we are less present, like Japan, retailers find us themselves! Of course, the internet makes everything easier and our website is a great tool to connect with new retailers and allow them to order from us. Unfortunately, maintaining the relationships with retailers who are so far away is a challenge, but we do our best!
We are now launching LoFff and Lava Lava in the United States with the help of an importer. We are really excited about this new move and we look forward to seeing the first results.
What triggered you to join fashionTrade?
I strongly believe in the concept of a digital trade show.
I know by experience that buyers browse for new brands and collections online outside of the traditional trade shows or showroom visits. So it makes perfect sense for brands and retailers to connect in one dedicated digital platform.
In addition, FashionTrade is focusing on the European market, a market we are obviously very interested in. The fact to be able to connect and trade with retailers from all around Europe is a great opportunity for us.
Which feature do you like the most on our platform? Which feature are you most excited to use in the future?
The digital showroom! It will allow us to present LoFff in the best possible way without investing in our own technological platform. We all know the importance of visual merchandising in a brick-and-mortar store and an online shop is no different. I look forward to organising my collections by colours or seasonal inspirations!
I also generally appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the platform: the app looks both professional and inviting. I think it’s a critical point for a service tailored to the fashion industry.
How do you foresee fashionTrade complementing your visits to the trade shows?
This Summer, we chose not to go to any trade shows because the return on our investment is just not there. However, we will try to go to Paris this winter and I want to use FashionTrade as an extra option for retailers to order from us. Going to the shows allows you to create and maintain a personal relationship, but trading can easily be done on FashionTrade.
We are all looking for more efficiency and this is what FashionTrade is about.
What would you say to a brand that is thinking about joining fashionTrade but hasn’t done so yet?
Just ‘do it’! FashionTrade is a marketplace so the more the merrier! The strength of FashionTrade is to be able to gather numerous brands and retailers from different countries in one place. It’s a great opportunity to meet new retailers and showcase your collections without spending too much.
Finally, what has been the biggest change in the wholesale or retailing fashion industry this year?
I have noticed that the retail market is becoming increasingly polarised between very mainstream products and very trendy ones. There is not much in between at the moment. Retailers are willing to spend a lot of money on mainstream collections, but they are reluctant to do so for more niche brands. I personally think it’s a pity: having a different and unique offer is the key to success, both online and offline. This is what we try to achieve with Zazi Brands.
Thanks so much to Joanneke for this inspiring interview.