LIVELY, one of the fastest growing lingerie startups, built their brand on the foundation of community. With over 100,000 brand ambassadors, LIVELY is home to a thriving community of women that have helped shape the brand’s approach to everything from the content they create to the products they launch.
We had a chance to get to know more about LIVELY’s approach to community, COVID, and the future with their CEO & Founder, Michelle Cordeiro Grant.
What is your role at LIVELY and what does your day-to-day look like?
Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO at LIVELY.
There’s no typical “day-to-day,” at a startup, but I’m still trying to keep the same routines now as I did prior to COVID-19. I still wake up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to have a coffee and fit a quick workout in, which is what I did when I was going into the office. The only difference is I’ve turned my commute time into time to do an activity with my kids, which looks different every day – it can be baking, doing projects or even just sitting down and chatting with them. That’s been really special for us and it helps keep our environment calm, normal and exciting. After that, I’ll sign on for the day to see where LIVELY is at – checking our sales data, catching up with the team on marketing initiatives, and checking in on production and inventory, to name a few things. I’ve also continued my “walk and talk” routine on days when I have a lot of calls. This method helps me to be more present, and it gives my mind and creativity the boost it needs to help keep me going throughout the day.
How important is empathy and purpose in your approach to connecting with your brand’s community?
LIVELY’s M.O. is empowering women to live life passionately, purposefully, and confidently. To that end, we are always reaching out to our community to understand where their interests and passions lie so we can ensure we’re always serving up content, products, and experiences that speak to them. Our 100K+ Ambassadors are core to everything we do, and this community is a two-way street. Because of their enthusiasm about what we’re doing, we can really amplify social media and word-of-mouth efforts beyond our own marketing channels to reach women all over the U.S.
Can you give some insight into how the ambassador community started at LIVELY and how you’ve been able to grow it to over 100,000 ambassadors?
Before even having a product or a brand, LIVELY focused on building a community. Prior to launch, we hosted Airbnb focus groups to understand what women were looking for in the lingerie category, and we also began creating a movement on social media featuring inspirational quotes and images, which generated a flood of DMs and comments from women asking how they could be a part of what we were building. Although we’ve evolved to accommodate the incredible growth in our network, we’ve remained committed to connecting with our community on their terms, through Instagram, events, and other mediums.
With such a large community of ambassadors, how are you keeping them engaged and connected not only to the LIVELY brand, but also to each other?
We regularly reach out to them directly to ask them what they want to see in upcoming product launches, events, content, etc. We also feature them in our emails and social media, as well as give them a platform to share their own passions and interests. You’ll see our Ambassadors hosting events in our stores (when they were open), and also leading workshops and tutorials on our Instagram content series called “#LivingLIVELY At Home.” We also have a Facebook group where they can interact, and we’re constantly thinking up new ways to connect them with one another.
How has your strategy shifted to adapt to the current climate? Do you see these trends lasting in the long run?
As customers began spending all of their time at home, we immediately switched all of our content, messaging, and marketing to focus on comfort and being at home. With that, we pivoted from a brand that would right now be focused on our swimwear category into one that is all about lounge and comfy bras and bralettes. By putting ourselves in the mindset of the consumer we were able to completely switch our messaging and lean into loungewear to accommodate their needs.
Additionally, we’ve introduced a new bundles feature on our website. Keeping our customer top-of-mind, one thing we’re pushing to innovate is convenience: as customers are spending more and more time on their phones, we wanted to figure out how we could make that shopping experience even more seamless. Up until this point, we’ve offered bundles where customers could buy 2 bras for $60, and 3 for $80, but shoppers would have to separately add products to their cart in order for the promotion to activate. To help make the experience as easy and accessible as possible, we’ve moved bundles to the forefront of the site, creating packs that customers can easily add in one go. Since introducing it we’ve seen a significant positive shift in the business – it’s a small tweak but it goes a long way.
Lastly, we quickly transformed what would have been our in-store events to engaging social media content through “#LivingLIVELY At Home”, our IG series where we’re creating content each week ranging from female founder chats and skincare routines to cooking tutorials and workouts, to keep our community engaged and serve as an underlying point of positivity for them. We also recently launched the second season of LIVELY’s podcast No Makeup Needed, where we’re bringing the mentor coffee date straight to your headphones by sitting down with empowered women we know our community will look up to. We also launched our virtual styling sessions to replace in-store fit sessions, where customers can connect with LIVELY fit experts through 30-minute virtual sessions to get product recommendations and figure out what sizes and styles are best for them based on their personal needs.
What do you think is in store for the future of word-of-mouth marketing?
Consumers are going to be very intentional with their purchases and will go back to brands they felt prioritized them during this time. Other brands will need to lean into the idea of being flexible, agile and community-first if they weren’t already – it’s not about changing your core products or your core values, it’s about what you’re leaning into and your messaging and tone.