Over the years, MakersValley has seen smaller fashion brands focus more on things like branding, quality, and experience to connect with customers. Now the Dallas-based fashion tech platform is launch a new spin-off to help brands bring transparency into the supply chain and make those meaningful connections with consumers.
Called Orma, the app allows businesses to bring the type of content found on a social media feed or online shopping experience into physical retail.
“I love walking around the store and I love the vibe of the brands everywhere I shop,” said Jessica Morales, director of marketing at MakersValley. “Orma gives brands an exciting opportunity where customers can walk into the store and scan that tag and connect to their digital experience, so they can really have an even richer in-store shopping experience.”
“You buy the experience”
Co-founder and CTO Babajide Okusanya describes Orma as being like WordPress or Shopify, but based on experiences curated for smaller brands. Launched earlier this month, the app allows brands to create a visual story of their product. Using a model, brands are able to show the product’s journey from inception and the people behind it to manufacturing and its journey to a store as an extension of their online presence. -trade. A QR code can then be attached to the product label or its display in a retail environment which allows shoppers to further engage with the brand.
“If you buy a Burberry bag, you’re not just buying the bag itself, you’re buying the brand, you’re buying the experience,” said Alessio Iadicicco, co-founder and CEO of MakersValley. “It creates engagement for brands. It gives an experience to the consumer and it makes everyone more aware of how this product came to be. Everyone forgets that it’s not just the designer who makes the product. There are a lot of people who come into place in the supply chain.
Iadicicco said Orma was in talks with big luxury brands like Versace and Ferragamo, who he said saw the benefits of the app in being able to continue telling the story of a clothing line, after companies have already moved on to the next one that they promote on their websites.
Helping small brands stand out
Tiffany Chimal, co-founder and COO of MakersValley, said the app can help differentiate small brands to stand out from the bigger players in the space, while making it easier to target and engage with customers who are increasingly looking for brands focused on things like social impact and environmental issues.
“Consumers are pushing for more transparency,” Morales explained. “It’s very important to them when buying their brands and deciding who they’re going to choose in the market.”
MakersValley moved to Dallas in 2018
MakersValley, a B2B company that connects fashion brands to a network of vetted luxury Italian makers, launched in 2016, quickly gaining traction through the Puerto Rico-based Parallel18 accelerator program, followed by the St. Louis Arch Grant and the MassChallenge. Texas Acceleration Program in Austin. At the end of last year, the company joins the Capital Factory programwhich owns a 1% stake in MakersValley.
In 2018, MakersValley moved from New York to North Texas, where Iadicicco and Chimal are based. The idea behind Orma came from a timeline feature deployed on the MakersValley platform that provides companies with video updates while their products are being made, to make them feel like they’re in the factory. Iadicicco said he noticed brands using these videos for social media marketing and crowdfunding campaigns.
“One of our brands raised about $30,000 on Kickstarter just by using all of these images,” Iadicicco said. “So we were like, ‘Okay, let’s sit down and see how we can make this happen. “”
Scaling North Texas, Planning $1M Seed Funding Round
With a network of over 10,000 emerging designers who have used MakersValley’s platform and partners with permanent exhibition space at the Dallas Market Center, Orma aims to grow through trade shows and fashion meetups across the United States. Chimal said MakersValley plans to raise a $1 million seed. round funding this year and, depending on traction, will likely seek outside investment to fuel Orma.
“What I’ve seen from interacting with these new emerging designers is that a lot of them just can’t find things on the market that suit people like them,” Chimal said, “and they want to create it and they want to tell the story of how they did it to inspire other people. I feel like that’s where the (direct-to-consumer) movement is moving.”
“You also see a lot of these big brands acquiring some of these local brands that are local to make themselves look fresh and new and raw and real,” she added. “Orma really appeals to brands that don’t have a team of 200 designers doing content for them, that don’t have a $100,000 budget to do a photo shoot with a model.”
Iadicicco said the North Texas region is ideal for the startup’s core base, although it has team members in Italy and Canada in addition to Texas. He noted that while fashion hubs like New York and Los Angeles are overstretched with resources to help small fashion brands, the Dallas area continues to grow with areas like the Design District and brands like Neighborhood Goods. He believes the geographical location of the region makes it easy to connect with customers on both sides of the country.
“The first year is a big part of our testing to make sure we’re talking with our customer,” Iadicicco said. “We have this idea that in the first year we will have 100 customers who love you 100% because then those 100 customers will easily spread to 1,000. 2023 would definitely be like the year we scale.
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