Brand Interview: Joanna Kinsman, Founder and Designer – Miss Kinsman, Lingerie-inspired Swimwear Collection
How long has your company been in business?
I launched my samples in June 2011, which were ready for runways and photo shoots, but I just moved from Maine to LA in March 2012 to work with a manufacturer to get the line ready for market. The official launch of the online store was September 2012, so Miss Kinsman is very new, and will make its debut into the 2013 bikini season.
Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
I started the line because it was hard to find Brazilian cut bikini bottoms, let alone a bikini that was sexy without being scandalous, or classy without looking too frumpy. Once I began designing for fun and sketching my ideas, the possibilities would keep me awake at night, and would be the first thing I thought about when I woke up. That’s when you know you’ve found your passion.
My goal for Miss Kinsman is to reach swim shops and high end boutiques, both on and offline, as well as department stores, and become a global brand of elegant swimwear.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
In 2011 we were part of a Pink Carpet Runway in Boston in which the entry fee went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This year in LA we donated a custom pink bikini to the Susan G. Komen LA County Pink Tie Gala Silent Auction hosted by Lauren Conrad. The sample on display was branded with jeweled breast cancer awareness ribbons, and will be made to order after a fitting with the winner.
We are now working on a proposal to make these bikinis available for purchase on our website on a regular basis.
Tell us about your brand.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…
The branding is 100% me, just like my designs, and my goal for the brand is who I am as a designer and a person, and my love for each design will show through.
The font is simple and sophisticated, while the logo has an edgy yet slightly feminine look. I wanted to model after brands like Michael Kors, Chanel, Coach and Burberry. They aren’t using cursive or anything that will date their brand. I benchmarked these because to me their brands are timeless, just like Miss Kinsman swimwear.
How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the simple color palette we’ve been using, which ties into the bikinis themselves – black, ivory, and nude. Of those three colors, anyone can find a tone that is flattering, and we will add more colors down the road. Our logo is simple and black, and the website, aside from the images, doesn’t boast much color, save for the red text which is supposed to convert better on sites, as well as a clean white background.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
The logo concept evolved over a few months with one designer who got me started in the right general direction, until I finally met a graphic designer who understood my aesthetic and finalized the logo exactly the way I wanted it. The first designer was virtual, and the second was local, whom I stumbled across and saw her work on the walls and knew she would “get” me.
As far as the website, I use WordPress and chose a theme I would be proud of people coming to my website to view, that was easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
This is like the chicken and the egg theory – where do you start? I started out with a very simple website and had more of my images on Facebook. I linked my Twitter to Facebook so that all of my posts auto tweet, so I don’t have to think about that platform too much, other than engaging with the people who follow me. With my marketing background, it was easier for me to establish a web presence than creating the actual product, but once you put your intention out there to the world with a site, blog, social media, etc – you have no choice but to make the rest of it work!
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media?
Immediately – I may have even been doing the social media too prematurely – a year before the swimwear was for sale – but that was the part I truly understood, and I’ve made great connections from it.
Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
I was a virtual assistant to a few internet marketing coaches, so I understood a lot of this, but there are still a few pieces to the puzzle I’m missing and just need to dive into it. This includes video marketing – my YouTube channel is empty but I’ll get there!
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
I’m not doing any advertising at this time but look forward to doing so soon!
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
Not yet, but soon!
Which social media site to spend the most time on and how does it help marketing your business?
I mainly use Facebook to post images, and have tabs to link to Twitter and Pinterest. My Twitter posts are automated from Facebook, but I use it more for networking which has been great! I need to learn a bit more about Pinterest to start making it work for my company.
Do you belong to community sharing websites? Which ones and how effective are they in building your audience? What are the best features that help your business?
I’ve signed up for quite a few and get a lot of followers on Slideshare.net and Polyvore.com which lets me know I should start leveraging those a bit more.
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor?
I use a local contractor who finds the best prices for me and guarantees to match or beat any online price so I go through him.
Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
I trust my printer’s judgement on things like that.
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
No, I’ve never heard of it, but I’m interested!
If you sell products, are they produced in the USA or abroad?
I’m proud to say that my collection is made in the USA, in downtown Los Angeles.
Do you speak at events? If so tell us about that.
Not yet – I need to get over my slight fear of public speaking!
What is coming up in the year or two we should watch for?
Miss Kinsman will be on the market and gaining exposure through PR and marketing and driving sales. We will be launching a custom swim and bridal swim line, and will be aligning with the pageant industry on some bikinis. I’m also working on a book in the background of everything I’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, having come from a business background. Overall this is a very exciting time!
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
All of the above! It’s all a learning curve but will be worth all of the time spent. In the future I’d also like to introduce a line of jewelry, as well as resort and activewear.
To learn more about Joanna Kinsman and the Miss Kinsman Swimwear Collection, visit these links below: