Some retail brands are born in boardrooms, others are created in less conventional circumstances – and J Brooks Boutique, an Atlanta-based online fashion company, is one such brand. In 2016, its founder, Jessica (Jes) Brooks, purchased a sewing machine from a catalog using points she earned as rewards for performing in her 9-5 role as a data analyst.
She watched YouTube tutorials, bought materials, made a basic clutch and fell in love with sewing.
“The skills came so naturally and I was immediately overflowing with ideas for the clothes I wanted to make,” says Brooks, the brand’s founder, designer and CEO. “In the beginning, I made a lot of costly mistakes, but I always had my eye on what I wanted to create, then I reverse-engineered.
“The following year, I had launched my first collection of skirts,” adds Brooks. “They were all bespoke and I shared the whole process on Instagram. Slowly but surely the demand started to rise.
J Brooks Boutique moved away from the make-to-order model in 2018 and began to grow rapidly following the shutdown of all in-house sewing. A month before the pandemic hit in 2020, Brooks quit her secure, well-paying day job to focus on J Brooks Boutique, curating “chic and fabulous clothes for fashion-forward women who are tired of the choices status quo wardrobe”.
It was a gamble, but it paid off.
The company is growing rapidly. Brooks hired a lean but talented team to help keep up with demand and built a sleek online store with Shopify Advanced as orders grew. But there was one problem that kept coming up…
“We were constantly running out of stock of items and I had a hard time figuring out how many units to make and how much material to order,” Brooks recalls.
Brooks sought a solution to the problem. She found it in Brightpearl’s market-leading demand planning tool, Inventory Planner.
“Inventory Planner was a game-changer right from the start,” says Brooks. “It analyzes your data and gives you a reliable breakdown of exactly how much inventory we should be making and when to avoid running out or having too much stock.”
Inventory Planner is a tool that provides online merchants with accurate and hassle-free inventory planning.
“I have a strong instinct for the creative stuff, but the technical stuff is more of a challenge, so it’s great to have a planning tool to fill in the gaps so I can spend my time on more important stuff. like growing the business and designing new items,” says Brooks.
Sew the threads of growth
While other online retailers struggled, J Brooks Boutique had an incredible year, posting a 170% year-on-year growth rate, securing the brand a coveted second spot. on the US version of Brightpearl’s Lightning 50.
This year’s ranking was announced on September 27 after researchers tracked the growth rates of hundreds of companies across the United States to find the fastest growing e-commerce brands from last year. .
The chart revealed that the top 25 US e-commerce brands generated over $341 million in revenue over a 12-month period (2020-2021).
Thanks to its impressive revenue gains, J Brooks Boutique was also crowned as America’s fastest growing fashion brand, according to the survey.
“It’s a tremendous pleasure to be recognized in the Lightning 50 — especially as a black-owned business in a tough economic climate,” Brooks said. “It’s a chance to stop and smell the roses – and realize how far we’ve come. It’s been tough. Although our earnings last year were amazing, there were months at the beginning they sucked. But I always knew the business could be successful because I believed in what I was creating.
Try new channels
With the pandemic largely behind us, Brooks has already begun to leverage brand growth by adding new sales channels to its proven approach of using Facebook, email and SMS marketing, including experimenting with direct sale.
“We recently started direct selling and our customers have been incredibly responsive,” notes Brooks. “SMS and email marketing have been great for us, but one of the biggest hurdles to buying with an e-commerce brand is still the ‘know, like, trust’ factor.” “a customer touchpoint via live selling has removed barriers to purchase for new customers. We can show our clothes on mannequins of different sizes and answer questions in real time. This helps us gain trust new customers and strengthened our relationship with existing customers.
“I strongly believe that livestreaming – and potentially other new sales channels – will be key to our continued growth,” says Brooks. “So far we’ve done it through Facebook, but we’re looking to use a specialized platform to streamline the by buying part.
In addition to live sales growth, Brooks plans to bring J Brooks pop-up stores back across the country as an in-person way to connect with customers. There are also rumors of international expansion, starting with Canada.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds — especially now that we’re officially America’s fastest growing fashion brand,” Brooks said.
Note: Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 was open to all e-commerce businesses with annual revenue between £1m and £250m. Entry was free and applicants had to submit two full years of earnings data for 2020 and 2021 to be considered. Check out the full league table here.
Mark Hook is the Vice President of Global Brand, Communications and Public Relations at Brightpearl, a retail operating system (ROS) for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate operational complexity to that traders can spend their time and money growing without fear.