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Inside Retail & Klarna

Meet two extraordinary brands that are paving the way for positive change

When it comes to making bold moves and challenging the status quo, purpose-driven brands Modibodi and Outland Denim are ahead of the curve. 

Modibodi is a leakproof underwear brand working to normalise the conversation around menstruation and incontinence and reduce the environmental impact of period products, and Outland Denim is an ethically made fashion brand on a mission to stamp out modern slavery.

Both brands have faced tough moments when they’ve had to go against the grain and stand up for their values, but ultimately, those experiences have led to even greater opportunities to grow and increase their positive impact on the world. 

Modibodi founder and CEO Kristy Chong and Outland Denim founder and CEO James Bartle recently shared the benefits of being first in their categories and how having a bigger mission has helped them overcome the fear of failure for a new video series called Bold Moves

Created by Klarna, Bold Moves explores how a range of retail industry leaders have found success by making bold moves. You can check out the key highlights from Chong and Bartle’s conversation below, or watch the full episode here

  1. The challenges and opportunities of being first

Modibodi started selling leakproof underwear back in 2013, before many people knew what it was, and Outland Denim was tackling modern slavery in fashion supply chains more than two years before the Australian government made a law requiring big businesses to do so. 

This meant they not only had to invest in product and process innovation, but also consumer education. 

“In the early days, the challenges were not only [that] we had to educate the customer around this new way of managing your leaks, but we were also new to DTC. There wasn’t a roadmap around how to grow a DTC business,” said Chong. 

It also meant other businesses could piggyback off of their success.

“The more these solutions become commonplace in our industry, the cheaper it becomes for other brands and businesses to adopt them, but someone has to go first,” said Bartle. 

But there are also benefits to being first. 

“The advantage for us has been the fact that we become recognised as early adopters and thought leaders in the space. We don’t have to work as hard for PR opportunities, and there’s obviously a direct link between that and sales revenue,” said Bartle.

  1. The importance of standing up for your values

Both brands have faced defining moments when they’ve had to go against the grain and stand up for their brand’s values. 

After Facebook banned its film about getting your period for violating the platform’s guidelines, Modibodi released a powerful statement sparking a wider conversation about the ongoing stigma around periods, and the decision was ultimately overturned. 

And last year, Bartle was forced to ask Baptist World Aid to remove Outland Denim from its Ethical Fashion report because he felt the report was doing more harm than good in the fight to stamp out modern slavery in the fashion industry. 

Speaking out took courage, but for purpose-driven brands like Modibodi and Outland Denim, it was simply the right thing to do. 

“There was a lot of support [from] a lot of like-minded brands and individuals that believe the same thing, that [the Ethical Fashion report] has become a problem,” said Bartle. “The backlash of course has been there as well – I totally understand that and have to take it on the chin, but it’s necessary. It’s necessary to make those calls.” 

Chong added that brands can’t get discouraged by setbacks.

“I’m not sure you’re always going to get it right, but that’s not what it’s about. You have to make people feel uncomfortable before we get that mass awareness and people then get comfortable,” she said. Brands that take that lead like we have done and will continue to do, you’ve got to be prepared to get some knocks.”

  1. The power of purpose 

Making bold moves can feel risky, but both Chong and Bartle say that having a bigger purpose has helped them overcome the fear of failure. 

“Our purpose is a revolution in comfort, we’ve got revolution built into our purpose, that word in itself means we’re going to be provocative, and when you layer that down to what our mission is, it means we’re doing some things that other brands probably wouldn’t feel very safe doing,” said Chong.

Bartle agreed: “It’s like we’re going to work and fighting for this. Making a bold move on a commercial level is serving that purpose. I don’t even know how you do those things if you don’t operate your business for a greater purpose.”