Jess and Stef Dadon celebrated the opening of their planet-conscious, carbon-neutral, vegan and recyclable footwear brand Twoobs’ first retail store in the mecca of sustainability and conscious consumption that is Byron Bay last month. The once jet-setting duo spoke to Inside Retail about how different starting a successful retail business was in comparison to launching careers in fashion after experiencing almost instantaneous success with their platform ‘How Two Live’, which amasse
ssed over 100,000 followers online and the brand they built with that. Inside Retail : Tell me about your career journey. Where did it start and how did you land in the retail industry as co-founders and CEOs of Twoobs? Stef Dadon : We have been working together in the fashion industry for the last 12 years. At first, it was through a blog, which was called ‘How Two Live’ and that was when I was living in Paris for six months. Jess and I started ‘How Two Live’ as a daily diary, to update each other on what we were wearing, eating and doing. It took off quite quickly and that ended up being our foot in the door of the fashion industry and took us on this wild ride of working with fashion brands, getting flown to fashion weeks around the world and collaborating with some really amazing brands that we looked up to. We did that for a few years and then there were kind of a few catalysts for starting the sister brand Twoobs. Jess Dadon : One of them was our mental health had really taken a toll from being in front of the camera so much, it just really didn’t feel aligned for us. That was when we started to think about starting a brand so that we didn’t always have to be the ones in front of the camera. We were modelling in all of these campaigns and we felt really heavily scrutinised. At the same time, we were wearing these big platform shoes and they looked really cool, but they were super uncomfortable. We identified that there was a need for really cool shoes that were also really comfy and we questioned why women had to wear uncomfortable shoes in order to look good. That’s when we decided to start Twoobs about eight years ago now. IR: What was the transition like from being in fashion and creating ‘How Two Live’ to your full-time role at Twoobs? JD: When we started Twoobs we thought the platform we had built through ‘How Two Live’ and the audience we had there would support us more in the launching of a new brand and we anticipated it to be this big brand launch that everyone would care about and buy the shoes. It wasn’t like that at all and really fell on deaf ears. That was definitely a confronting experience. Everything with ‘How Two Live’ fell into place quite seamlessly and within six months we were both able to make it our full-time gig, whereas Twoobs was the opposite of that and a really slow burn. It took us about six years to get people to really understand the brand and there were many iterations of it before Twoobs became the brand it is today. IR: How many people work for Twoobs now? SD: We’re quite a small team, which is why we’re able to be so dynamic. There are seven of us full-time and a couple of consultants that work with us and the beauty of that is we can pivot super quickly. JD: It has been a really beautiful slow journey that we’ve all been on together, which I believe is why Twoobs is now really resonating with people because there’s so much integrity and thoughtfulness in the brand. IR: Have you had any mentors in business? SD: We have an incredible mentor who has been with us for a very long time. Cathryn Wills who’s the founder of Sans Beast, a vegan-focused accessory company came into our lives when she was working at Mimco, about 10 years ago now. She has been such a sense of support throughout our whole brand journey, especially in the first few years. We have this saying in our business, “What would Cath do?” Her answers were always right, she definitely taught us a lot of what we implement now. IR: You are both incredibly close and work together well. Hw have you allocated the daily responsibilities within the business, and has that changed since launching eight years ago? JD: To us the marketing and product side was the fun stuff. We would do that together and we were really good at that. The other stuff we considered boring, but we’d also do that together and that made it more fun. We had a great mentor guide us in our business and straightaway they said, “You’re wasting so much time by doing everything together.” After that, they separated and defined our roles. Stef is an incredibly creative thinker and I’m more creative with my hands. It made more sense for her to head up the marketing and for me to start looking into the product. We definitely did all of those things together in the beginning. Now I sit on the product and sustainability side and Stef on the marketing and comms side of the business.