On this episode of CrowdFund Genius ZacBob interviews Andy from N8V Couture.  Andy shares how he was able to hit his funding goal on Kickstarter through multiple facets like Reddit.  Which Reddit is a new one on CrowdFund Genius, so learn how Andy and N8V Couture was able to make their website go viral moments before launching their crowdfunding campaign.

CFG 008 Native Couture (KS)

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ZacBob:  Welcome back everybody!  ZacBob here ready to share some awesome insights into crowdfunding on a small clothing company that is Native American owned known as Native Couture.  Were going to find out how Andy hit his goal on Kickstarter so he could bridge the generation gap between rural and urban locations.   Andy, before we start talking about your crowdfunding campaign, tell our audience a little about yourself.

Andy from N8V Couture:  My name is Andy, I’m 29 years old, Native American and Fijian, turtle mountain Ojibwa from North Dakota, Belcourt, North Dakota.  And now I’m a Social Justice student here in Seattle.  I’m finishing my bachelors next quarter, basically while doing that I came up with this idea for this clothing business.  That’s what I’ve been doing.

ZacBob:  Now that we know a little about you, tell us about your crowdfunding campaign, Native Couture, the relevant Native American Clothing.  Share with us some of the ups and downs of your crowdfunding campaign and tell us the story that brought you to Kickstarter.

Andy from N8V Couture:  Native Couture was basically founded by me, from my history of dancing at Pow-Wows and I came up with the idea while attending Pow-Wows.  I seen that there was a need for what I’ve coined relevant Native American clothing.  Basically what that means to us at Native Couture is that were able through self determination to determine what types of designs and clothing to put out in terms of Native American clothing to the public versus maybe Urban Outfitters or the bigger chain companies who appropriate Native American design to make money off it.  That’s kind of the basis to it.  There’s a lot more to it in terms of design.  I guess if you want to check out the website there is more information on that.   As far as are crowdfunding campaign, we came into at a point were we needed to figure out how we could keep everything in house and basically that’s were Kickstarter came in.  We wanted to figure out how to raise funds without having to seek a loan.  Basically that’s what it came down to.  Me being a full time student I wasn’t in any position to secure any kind of bank loan and I needed to move forward in terms of expanding my business.  That’s were crowdfunding came in.

ZacBob:  How difficult was it being a full time student and managing a crowdfunding campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  That’s a funny story as well, it was difficult and actually at the time I was playing competitive paintball which I also do.  I am now on a break from that because I realized after running this Kickstarter campaign that my business really needs to come first at this point.  I was actually in Dallas when I launched the Kickstarter campaign.  In a hotel in Dallas playing a paintball sports promotion national paintball tournament.  So the time it actually took to put into a campaign, I was really unaware when it started.

ZacBob:  Sometimes as an entrepreneur or what I like to call Crowdfunders, you have to just jump off that cliff and build a plane on the way down.  Not sure who first said that but you definitely seem to fit that description.  So tell me about “Definitely Native,” I see it on a lot of your merchandise.  What does that mean to you and Native Couture.

Andy from N8V Couture:  Definitely Native is a self-determining statement for Native American people in order to wear that pride on the outside.  I kind of wanted to counter the cliché Native Pride type of gear and kind of spin off of that and have our own statement.  Where it actually came from is one of my favorite Hip Hop artists is Tall Paul, he’s from Minnesota.  Basically what he was doing was utilizing hip hop in order to portray kind of a political message.  So one of his songs says “Definitely Native, taking responsibility for being educated” and it kind of goes on to spin off that and the songs called “Prayer of the Song.”  So I utilized that in the crowdfunding campaign and its been really successful in terms of people kind of appreciating the statement but also really wearing it to different Native American events and really standing behind it.  Its whatever anybody what’s it to be.  Its hard for me to talk about what Definitely Native is, it’s a statement that was made in a hip hop song that’s evolving day by day to whatever it means to each individual.

ZacBob:  Lets get back to the Crowdfunding Campaign.  I know you’re a full time student and a campaign can be a lot to handle just by one person alone, not to mention being a full time student.  So did you have any help during the campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  So with the Kickstarter campaign, what happened when I first started is I had kind of a creative team I met through paintball.  There some great guys down at Portland Oregon.  Blacklist Media is the name.  They have a website Blacklistmedia.net we have a videographer, a graphic designer, professional photographers; one guy owns a paintball clothing company.  One owns another extreme sporting clothing company.  So a lot of different people and a lot of creative minds.  I kind of called on them because they’re making some awesome promo videos down there out of Oregon for their companies so I said you know  I’ve been checking out this Kickstarter website, it looks like with your guys is skills we could really do something with this and that’s kind of where it came into effect for the video.  Everything else I did myself and that’s how this business has started and that’s one of the reasons why I needed to utilize Kickstarter to create some capital for my business.

ZacBob:  Tell me a little more about the clothing line and what it consists of.  Is it just T-shirts or is there more?

Andy from N8V Couture:  For Native Couture we have some strap back hats that were designed, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, hoodies, sweatpants and its all kind of in line with what we can afford to do with the business.  That’s kind of what it comes down to is I’ve designed different spring dresses some swimsuits and all kind of things down to pow-wow dance memorabilia to some jewelry.  I also do beadwork.  I mean there’s a lot of a thing to what we can produce due to the budget.  Every time we produce funds and get some type of return on our investment we just put it back into the business and add another line another design another line of products.  So that’s were we are at.

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ZacBob:  Why did you decide to use Kickstarter instead of other platforms out there?

Andy from N8V Couture:  I guess with Kickstarter its pretty well known and I guess a lot of people throughout mentors and professors at school who I kind of talked to about this idea.  So I’m talking to them about it how I really wanted to expand this business and utilize artist in a community and bring in some youth and have them learn the graphics aspect and I want to help them learn the design aspect and they kept saying have you heard of Kickstarter?  I said ive heard of it because im online all the time and was at one time a freelance web developer so I pride myself In knowing everything on the web.  I said yeah I know about that but I really didn’t.  So I started doing some research into it and seeing some really amazing projects on there but what’s funny is I also seen what I would consider some really questionable projects on there.  And they were getting funding.  So I also wanted to know how are they getting funding what’s behind this, why are people putting money into these projects that I personally wouldn’t contribute too.  So once I started doing this research I figured out its creative and their producing really quality videos and their message is well.  That’s kind of where this idea of this Kickstarter campaign really took off.

ZacBob:  What was your original goal for the Kickstarter campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  The goal for this was $7,500.  We started with a goal in mind of $15,000 that would’ve put is exactly were we wanted to be as a business and then we started looking realistically into what we could do and what our time frame was and what was realistic.  And that wasn’t.  So we stepped it down a notch and that was still a pretty large feat.

ZacBob:  Did you reach that crowdfunding goal?

Andy from N8V Couture:  We actually went a little bit over, $7,644.

ZacBob:  and that original goal was so you could buy a screen printing press?  Is that right?

Andy from N8V Couture:  Yea so through the Kickstarter campaign our ultimate goal, and that’s were the $!5,000 came into play.  That would be to get an actual six color, four-station screen printing press also a direct to garment machine which is a very high quality piece of technology which is actually an inkjet printer and prints digital prints from a program like a Photoshop directly to a shirt.  So that was our ultimate goal, we said if we could $7500 that’s how much the machine costs.  We will go with that and I had a little bit of funding through my school that I would utilize to get an office space so it worked out pretty well.

ZacBob:  Lets talk about a few of your pledges.  You had a variety of pledge amounts, ranging from ten dollars to thousands of dollars.  Which pledge amounts were your best performing?

Andy from N8V Couture:  The highest amount I believe was three thousand dollars and the best performing was about fifty dollars.  People seemed pretty comfortable with donating fifty dollars and that seemed to work out.

ZacBob:  What did 50 dollars entail?

Andy from N8V Couture:  It was a t-shirt which was a limited art print by one of our artist and a vinyl window sticker from Native Couture.

ZacBob:  I also noticed you had a 1000 dollar pledge which was your choice of anything on the Native Couture line, plus you, Andy, would design someone else’s  own mini line.  And you had a backer for that.  You pretty excited for that?

Andy from N8V Couture:  Yea I mean, I had a couple other people ask me about that pledge and what does this entail?  How are you going to end up doing that?  Basically they said what if there line doesn’t take off?  And I said I’m not going to sale there line, they can, I’m going to design and help them design a line and whatever they do with they can do with it.  I am excited for it and maybe we will incorporate it into our stuff.  I have no problem doing that if it aligns with our mission.

ZacBob:  Lets move onto your crowdfunding video.  I told you how much I loved the music in the pre chat.  I also loved the slow-mo’s and the fact that your video had real production value.  For everyone listening you really need to check out the show notes on our website to see Native Coutures crowdfunding video.  Andy, tell me the story and a sort of a behind the scenes look at the making of your Kickstarter campaign video.

Andy from N8V Couture:  Basically the video, well its funny because, I had this idea in my head that were going to do this big elaborate video and there is going to be all these shots and at the end of the day it didn’t need to be that.  So what happened was a lot of the extreme sports athletes that came out, well we shot it at the University of Washington winter pow-wow outside on campus right out in front of the Hud building.  Basically a lot of, the people that gave a verbal agreement weren’t able to make it out for whatever reason which was fine.  Some of my family came out and some friends from Portland and they’re into skateboarding and snowboarding and all kinds of extreme sports and they had they’re boards in the car.  They jumped on the board, and I was able to ride my bike through there.  My buddy Tyrell from Tallulah up here.  He’s the one dancing, he’s a 16 year old youth from Tallulah.  He’s actually a grass dancer / pow-wow dancer.   He’s amazing, he travels doing that style of dancing as well.  Pop lock dancing or however he calls it electro dance.  And he jumped in there and was able to do that, he was actually suppose to be grass dancing in the video but he kind of bailed on me on that but I got to throw on my memorabilia and do a little dancing.  That was about what was in it, the storyline basically came down to once the boys came up from Portland we said this is perfect.  It was a little hectic are people going to show up?  And we finally said lets just get some really good shots of what we would be doing in our lives.  And Tyrell believe it or not if you see that kid at a pow-wow he has his headphones in and is just dancing.  So it turned out pretty good.

ZacBob:  Sounds pretty chaotic at first, but your finished product turned out pretty amazing and hundreds of backers seem to agree.  Now lets talk about Press.  Did you have any media attention or blogger attention going into your crowdfunding campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  We sort of did after.  You know I started reaching out to different avenues that I knew were Native American focused.  We were able to get on PowWows.com which is a huge Native American network.  I think on Facebook they have over 100,000 Facebook fans.  We were able to get on their website which is a huge avenues in terms of the Native American community and our target market being primarily pow-wow goers.  Of course we have a secondary market but that’s are main target.  We were able to get on their, and we were able to get on Last Real Indians which is Native American up to date news.  They tell it how it is, which was also a pretty good avenue to target people that support Native owned business.  So we were able to do that.

ZacBob:  Sounds like you were able to get on websites that were perfect for your campaign.  I also heard you mention PowWows.com Facebook fans.  Did you use social media and how big of a roll did that play into your crowdfunding campaigns success?

Andy from N8V Couture:  Social media played a huge role.  This was interesting, Kickstarter actually has a dashboard that you can actually look and see were your traffic comes from.  So I can give you a little bit of a breakdown.  30 of our pledges came from Facebook, 17 came from direct traffic.  So most likely it was some links we put on Instagram, my best guess is that’s were that came from.  13 pledges from Tumblr.com, 8 from YouTube, 6 from Reddit.com, 5 from Last Real Indians, 3 from PowWows.com, 4 from just a Kickstarter search.  Then it just kind of goes on from there, one from here one from there.  But social media is were the traffic came from for sure.

ZacBob:   Reddit.com is a new one that we haven’t heard on the show before.  I know from a few blogs that I follow that some people are starting to use Reddit.com as a way to promote crowdfunding campaigns.  So what did you do with Reddit exactly.

Andy from N8V Couture:  That was an interesting thing too.  So on Reddit I actually, well Reddits what kicked off the campaign I believe.  So I went to Reddit I uploading, well I wasn’t even going to do this.  Lets backtrack a little bit, this wasn’t my plan but I just said I didn’t want to put the video on YouTube, but well maybe someone might see it on YouTube.  So I uploaded the video to YouTube not thinking anything of it.  I didn’t even really have an avenue to steer people to the YouTube video and I didn’t really want the people that I was steering to go to the YouTube video, I wanted them to go to the actual campaign.  But to kind of supplement what I was doing I uploaded it up to YouTube and then I shared that video link on Reddit and I got about ten thousand hits in one day.  And to the date I think the YouTube video has 13 – 14 thousand views.  So I almost made the mistake of not doing it so im really glad that I did.

ZacBob:  They always say you should go with your gut instinct.  What about paid advertising.  Did you pay for any Facebook ads or anything like that?

Andy from N8V Couture:  At the end of the campaign I did pay a little bit.  Im kind of put off by Facebook’s ad tactics now.  I know that it is needed, and I know that it is helpful at the same time.  We used to get a lot better results when we started running our Facebook page just from organic ads.  Its kind of hard to see that transition and go back and utilize payment. But yes we did use some, probably about 300 dollars or something in total.

ZacBob:  Do you have any idea what the return was on those ads?

Andy from N8V Couture:  Its really hard to tell because we ran the ads at the end.  But what I do know is that the total through Facebook that was pledges was $4,617 dollars.  So how much of that actually came from the ads I don’t know for sure.  I’m sure a portion of that did but I don’t have any specific numbers.

ZacBob:  Some of our guests are fortunate enough to make it on Staff picks, or Popular portions section of the Kickstarter website.  Were you lucky enough to get in any of these sections?

Andy from N8V Couture:  We didn’t make it on there and I don’t fully know how they choose those types of things.  I was hoping to be chosen, but we didn’t get chosen.

ZacBob:  What was the turning point in your project, when the pledges really started pouring in.

Andy from N8V Couture:  I think the turning point was the last week.  Another thing I should mention is through Reddit our website blew up.  We had 75 orders within a couple days.  Which was good and overwhelming.  But with that being said the pledges weren’t really there with Reddit even though the views were there from traffic through the website.  But probably around the last week we really seen it pick up.  I was able to reach out to a lot of Native American organizations and a lot of Native American networks and they were able to really get behind the campaign and understand what I was trying to do and I think it showed the last week.

ZacBob:  Did you have a coach, or attend anything like Kickstarter schools, webinars, or any blogs that helped you along the process of your crowdfunding campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  You know I really didn’t.  I did a lot of just watching people’s videos, and watching campaigns.  I tried to read a lot on the blogs but there’s so much information its really hard to understand what is being put out there, I don’t really know if what I came across was good information.  A lot of it steers you to information where you got to pay a little bit of money to share your campaign and so without some really you know.  And again I really jumped into without really knowing what I was getting myself into.  Luckily it turned out well for us.  I didn’t really feel comfortable paying money to a service I didn’t know anything about or have time to research.

ZacBob:  I’m glad you said that Andy.  Because that’s exactly what im trying to do here by offering this free show every week.  I want people to be able to have a resource they can go to and listen while driving to work, working out, or even working on their very own campaign.  They can come to CrowdFund Genius and learn from Geniuses like yourself who have got in the trenches and ran their very  own campaigns.  Tell me this Andy, is their anyway Kickstarter could have made your experience better on their platform?

Andy from N8V Couture:  I think at this point the biggest issue were having with Kickstarter is the pledge levels.  I’m having to sort it out, and I read about it but kind of took it for granted.  Its really hard to sort through, I have 110 backers I believe.  Basically I would say 100 of those people are getting pledge items, and I’m still sorting that out.  I’ve done some updates and people are receptive to it.  But have a system that kind of allows you to choose certain options or upload certain chooses.  Just kind of have a user interface so that the pledge portion of your campaign could be streamlined.

ZacBob:  Here on CrowdFund Genius I like to ask two questions towards the end of the show that I think crowdfunders can find very useful in preparation for to run their own campaigns.  So lets kick it off with the first one.  What’s the one thing you wish you knew going into your campaign?

Andy from N8V Couture:  The one thing I wish I knew, well I still wish I knew.  How the staff picks, or how do you get into the spotlight.  I think we were able to target who we knew to target.  Maybe that’s how these other campaigns do it.  I’m really not sure but maybe some more education on how the traffic sources come into Kickstarter.  You know that would have been very helpful.

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ZacBob:  Okay number 2, what’s the one piece of advice, or a tool that you can give to any Crowdfunders out there listening and hoping to accomplish there very own crowdfunding campaign.

Andy from N8V Couture:  Work your ass off.  I don’t know if I can say that on your show but it took a lot and I told someone this but the $7500 that we raised if I would’ve took a job making $20 an hour I probably could’ve made a $7500 dollar paycheck.  That’s the reality of it, but I didn’t have to.  So that’s why I say maybe learning more about how to get your project into the spotlight might take a lot of that news sharing and social media spotlight out of the equation or at least streamline it.

ZacBob:  Now that your campaign is over and you were successful.  If any Crowdfunders listening want to get their piece of the Native Couture clothing line, where can they go.  Also were can people connect with you Andy?

Andy from N8V Couture:  People can go to www.N8VCouture.com  Or you can find us on Facebook Native Couture.  You can also just Google Native Couture were up there and YouTube basically all of our social media channels are covered.  @N8VCouture on Instagram.  #DefinitelyNative #NativeCouture #N8V.  Most of those avenues will find us.

ZacBob:  Thank you Andy for coming on the show and sharing your experience with us about your crowdfunding campaign with Native Couture.  And for our audience feel free to check out CrowdFund Genius on Facebook.  I have awesome giveaways and I share a ton of crowdfunding tips and advice.  Also leave me a five star rating if you want to be registered to win a free pair Skullcandy earbuds.  As always thanks for listening and Happy Crowdfunding.  ZacBob out.

Show links:

N8V Couture Website

N8V Couture Kickstarter

N8V Couture Facebook

N8V Couture Twitter

N8V Couture Instagram

N8V Couture YouTube

Crowdfunding Video – Blacklist Media Website