Aside from high-quality products, there is nothing more important to a fashion start-up than getting their clothing into the public eye. And a great way to do that is with the help of a celebrity — either with an unofficial endorsement where the celebrity is seen wearing your product or with an official campaign.
In order for that to happen, though, the first step is to get your product into a celebrity’s hands. Figuring out the best way to do that depends on what exactly you want from the celebrity in exchange for the free product you’re giving them. Let’s take a look at some of the methods you can use to get your product into a celebrity’s hands and give your brand a chance to stand out from the competition.
Work With Their Representatives
When it comes to partnering with celebrities, most times you won’t actually be working directly with the celebrity — you’ll be working with their representatives. It’s important to know who to contact about your brand; not only that, it’s crucial that you understand how to contact them.
Most celebrities have a team of representatives that typically includes an agent, a manager, and a publicist. You need to be sure that you’re reaching out to the person who’s most likely — and most able — to help with your request. For example, if you’re looking for a standard endorsement deal, you’ll want to reach out to the celebrity’s manager (unless they have an agent who handles endorsements), since managers oversee all their clients’ business agreements.
But if your brand is just getting off the ground, you might not have the money for a full endorsement campaign. If that’s the case, your other option is to get your product into the celebrity’s hands for free and hope that they talk it up on social media or that they’re seen wearing your clothes. That’s when you’d want to touch base with the celebrity’s publicist.
Of all the available options, this is one of the more targeted ones. You definitely shouldn’t be sending a form email to the managers or publicists of twenty different celebrities — that’s a good way for your request to end up looking like a scam. Reaching out to managers or publicists usually means you’ve already identified the ideal celebrity to wear your brand. So if you haven’t decided on a particular celebrity yet, you have two options: figure out the best celebrity fit for your brand, or try some of the other tips below.
Send Through Their Stylist
It’s hard to envision a time when nobody had heard of UGG boots, but believe it or not, that was once the case. Getting your brand to the right celebrity is often a blend of persistence and luck, but a little outside-the-box thinking doesn’t hurt either.
When he was trying to get his brand off the ground, Brian Smith (the founder of UGG) had a unique approach to getting his brand to celebrities. Rather than going through their representatives, Smith gave his products to another group of people who could get them to celebrities: their stylists.
It was a genius move: if your brand is the right fit for a particular celebrity, their stylist will recognize it right away. On top of that, celebrities are more likely to trust their stylist’s recommendations, so if they like your product, they’re definitely going to work to get their clients to wear it in public.
Working through celebrity stylists can be as targeted or as broad as you need. If you’ve identified a particular celebrity you’d like as a partner for your brand, you just need to figure out who their stylist is and approach them with an offer to provide free merchandise. Even if you don’t have a specific celebrity in mind, a lot of stylists have multiple clients, and the stylists will know which of their clients are a good fit for your products. It saves you a lot of legwork and increases the odds of a celebrity being seen wearing your brand.
Invite Them To Your Warehouse
Depending on where your brand’s warehouse is located, inviting celebrities to stop by and pick out clothes they like can be a good option. To do this, you’ll first have to go back to step one and reach out to the celebrity’s publicist to send an invite and set up a time for them to come by. (If the celebrity doesn’t have a publicist, you can try their manager.)
The good thing about inviting the celebrity or influencer to your space is the opportunity it creates for you to chat with them one-on-one; plus, by allowing them to pick out products that interest them (rather than just sending them something you think they might like), there’s a better chance they’ll end up using it in public or talking it up on social media.
This method works best if the celebrity is already a fan of your brand or has been photographed wearing your clothes in the past. That way, you can position the visit as a “thank you” for their support, and since they’ve already shown your brand some love in the past, there’s a good chance that they’ll do the same with the new product you give them.
There are, of course, some possible drawbacks to this method. First, if your space is in a remote location, you might not get much interest; after all, not many celebrities would take time out of their day to visit the warehouse of a brand they haven’t heard of and don’t know if they’d like.
Second, this method works best if you have a space that is comfortable enough for the celebrity to come visit; if you’re working out of a tiny office, they may not be too excited to come by and check things out. But setting up a visit can be a great way to establish a relationship with the celebrity or influencer and their publicist or management, which will improve the odds of a successful potential partnership between them and your brand.
Like the last option, this one can be as targeted or as broad as you need it to be. If you want to hold a sort of “open house” and send out invites to a lot of different publicists, you can; on the other hand, if you’ve already narrowed down your list, inviting a celebrity out to your space can be a good way to get them on board — the one-on-one visit sends a strong message that you think they’re the perfect fit for your brand.
Get Your Product Into Gift Bags or Gift Lounges
What if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to research a celebrity’s representatives or their stylist, and your space isn’t ideal for a visit? Luckily, there’s another option: gift bags and gift lounges.
Gift bags are usually a piece of luggage or a trunk that’s filled with items for a celebrity or influencer and are given out at events featuring celebrities. (Since you’d just need to speak to the person coordinating the event, this can also make it a little easier to get your product into the gift bag.) The products inside are either given directly to the celebrity, loaded into their car at the end of the event, or shipped directly to wherever the celebrity wants it delivered.
Gift lounges are another option to ensure your product gets directly to a celebrity. Gift lounges are dedicated areas at celebrity events where celebrities can go to pick up free products from brands that have paid to set up a station. It’s sort of like a flea market, but instead of knick-knacks and junk, everything at a gift lounge is a high-end product (plus, it’s all free). Plus, gift lounges are usually packed with photographers, so if you get lucky, you can get free pictures of a celebrity interacting with your product.
While gift bags and gift lounges are great for getting your product directly to a celebrity or influencer, they can also be pretty expensive — in order to get your product into gift bags or gift lounges, you’ll have to pay a fee.
Gift bags are usually a little cheaper (the usual range is around $500 to $4,000), but since the celebrity doesn’t receive the gift bag until after the event, you can’t be certain they’ll actually try your product. Gift lounges are pricier, and costs usually start around $5,000; depending on how high-profile the event is, that cost can easily move into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Unlike the other options, gift bags and lounges don’t give you as much opportunity to target specific celebrities — it all depends on who shows up to the event. So if you’ve already identified the perfect celebrity fit for your brand, you might want to save your money and focus your efforts on getting your product to them directly.
A celebrity endorsement signals to consumers that the brand they’re endorsing is both cool and current; more importantly, an endorsement gives your brand an opportunity to tap into that celebrity’s market. Take advantage of some of these options, and your brand could become the next big thing.
Billy Bones is the founder of Booking Agent Info and Moda Database. Moda Database provides you with the contact information for celebrity stylists, and shows you which celebrities they work with. Booking Agent Info provides you with the contact information for the official agents, managers, and publicists of celebrities.