DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: TWOOBS
Sister duo Stef & Jess are the power house team behind the super funky footwear label TWOOBS. We were able to ask them a few questions about the beginning of TWOOBS, its progression and the much anticipated collection addition of the Sneaky.
You launched TWOOBS in 2016 as a sister-brand off the back of your well known fashion & lifestyle platform “How Two Live” – What has it been like moving from influencers as a personal brand to designers/directors of a shoe label?
Being on the influencer side was a lot of fun, it gave us access to so many brands that we had always looked up to, and really helped us get our foot in the door to this whole new fashion world. We were both super young when we started How Two Live as well so having a platform where our voices could be heard was really new and exciting. Having our own label was always a fantasy of ours, we love getting our hands dirty, creating things and thinking of innovative ways to market them is what really gets us going so we’re definitely living out our dream.
We love that TWOOBS are vegan friendly, how important was it for you for the materials to be animal product free?
We’re both huge animal lovers so when we set out to create our own label it was an absolute given that we wouldn’t be using animal products to make them. Pairing animal-friendly with fashion-forward was something we personally felt was lacking in the footwear space, so that’s exactly what we set out to create.
How did you make TWOOBS a reality? What was your process to get the label off the ground and running?
We collaborated with Windsor Smith, a popular footwear brand in Australia, on a capsule collection of five shoes that sold out within a matter of hours. That was when we got hooked and knew we wanted to start our own footwear label, but neither of us had any technical design knowledge or any idea how to produce a product so from there it was all about collecting information from anyone who was willing to share. We ended up finding a team of amazing mentors that so generously guided us in building this business and continue to help us grow and thrive.
We LOVED how you approached NYFW with your out-of-the-box thinking (and budget strategizing) to launch TWOOBS – how did you come up with this idea to show bikini clad models wearing your new range of sandals like they were spending a day at the beach in such wintery weather?
Haha thanks! Coming up with out of the box ideas is definitely something we love. We find that the best ideas often come from tiny budgets as you need to think of really creative ways to create noise without spending a lot. Our NYFW $500 launch idea actually came about because we were in New York for fashion week for How Two Live in freezing cold temperatures, and at the same time we were launching our summer sandal range back in Australia. Even though the seasons didn’t align the opportunity to get our shoes in front of fashion’s elite was too good to miss, so we embraced the cold and sent models we found on Craigslist out in swimsuits to parade around the streets of New York wearing our sandals. The stunt generated so much buzz, it ended up on the front page of Huffington Post, and three years later we’re still regularly getting asked about it.
TWOOBS sandals have been such a hit, can you tell us where the idea to add a sneaker collection came from?
The feedback we get is often around how comfy our shoes are - once you start wearing them you can never go back to regular shoes! We had so many customers rocking them all summer long but they would complain that we didn’t have an option for the colder months. When we decided our next product would be a sneaker we of course knew it couldn’t be any old sneaker so it took about a year of testing and sampling before we finally released our gorgeous TWOOBS Sneaky. The frill detailing on the shoe makes it so unique, and customers have been absolutely loving them.
What are some of your earliest fashion influences? Are they still relevant today and do these style influences play a part in the design process when it comes to creating TWOOBS sandals and sneakers?
Growing up we just loved everything the Olsen twins wore, and then as our style developed it was people like Rachel Zoe and Anna Dello Russo that we would look to. We really believe that personal style can be fluid, for us it’s less about sticking to one thing and more about how we’re feeling in a moment and what’s inspiring us. The TWOOBS aesthetic is based heavily on our own style and what we’re gravitating towards in the season. Our upcoming collection is actually based around Marrakesh which is a nod to our Moroccan heritage.
We’ve just been listening to your podcast “How Two Live” which you also launched this year (and we LOVE), how do you find the time to fit all this in? Your time management must be on point! Any tips on how to manage a super busy schedule like yours?
Hmmmm this is an area we’re not sure we’ve mastered ourselves just yet. Sharing a Google calendar was definitely a turning point for us in the organisation department. Everything we organise goes in the calendar so we can stay across our own and each other’s movements - if it’s not in the calendar then it doesn’t exist. We also used to work from home and found it really hard to switch off, our home life and our work life were basically one and it was hard to get any sort of balance. Once we moved into an office that definitely shifted our mentality and we now have scheduled work time and scheduled play time which is way more sustainable.
Can you tell us about the “Two Good” Project that you also run for start up entrepreneurs.
About four months into launching TWOOBS we went on a start up accelerator program, and out of around 10 other businesses that were on it, we were the only females. This just totally shocked us and as we amerced ourselves in this entrepreneurial world we realised just how common it was. Out of all the start ups in Australia, only around 22% are founded by females, so we started our grant and mentorship to encourage other females to take the leap and make their dreams happen.
What is your advice to start up labels and creatives wanting to break into this industry?
It can be really scary to put yourself out there when you’re first starting out but the best advice we can give is just to take the leap and reach for the stars, because if you don’t someone else will. We’ve all been guilty of spending too much time sitting in self-doubt but that’s not where dreams happen. Get out of your comfort zone, put yourself out there and you’ll make it happen because that’s where there’s magic.
Lastly, what other amazing plans do you have in the works? Can you share something with us?
We’re super excited about our recently launched podcast, How Two Live: The Podcast, where we sit down with mentors and people that inspire us to hear about their journey’s, as well as sharing our own. We’ve got some awesome new product collabs coming out towards the end of the year, and we’re continuing to expand the TWOOBS offering with a bigger focus on sustainability.
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER Carmaine Ng @carmaine.ng (image of Jess & Stef)
STYLIST / ART DIRECTION Jam Baylon @_jam______