Danish model and influencer turned fashion entrepreneur Anine Bing launched her eponymous luxury womenswear label with her husband, Nicolai Nielsen, from their garage in Los Angeles in 2012. The business was digital only, using Anine’s strong social media following to promote and sell her initial collection of 15 pieces.
Fast forward seven years and Anine has a team of 60 employees and 10 stores across Europe and the US to complement the thriving digital-first business model.
Anine Bing has collaborated with other labels and has branched into accessories, childrenswear and fragrances. Most recently, the brand opened a store in London’s exclusive Mayfair in 2018 and there are plans to open several more around the world by the end of the year.
These expansion plans are bolstered by a US$15 million (A$21 million) Series A financing round from Index Ventures, Greycroft Partners and Felix Capital, secured in late 2018. The injection of funding will be used to “expand, open more stores, grow the team and invest in technology,” Anine says.
“It’s the right time to do it and I’m really excited for the next chapter.” The company, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, is expected to double its revenue in the next 12 months.
Though Anine glows with pride at the opening of her brick-and-mortar stores, Instagram is her most powerful tool and she describes social media as being at the core of what is a “community-driven brand”.
Before launching the company, Anine had a strong social media following of fans of her style and she recognised the power of Instagram to turn an audience into ‘see now, buy now’ customers before most.
The down-to-earth 36-year-old tells The CEO Magazine she had dreamed of having her own company since she was a child and following her love of fashion and a career in the industry, starting her own label “came very naturally”.
“My mission is to build a modern-day fashion house, to design essentials that empower women,” she says.
Here, Anine shares with us the seven rules that guide her as she steers her burgeoning fashion business.
Rule 1: Focus on your team
It’s super important to me to hire people who are kind to one another, who work hard, who see me as a leader and who are willing to listen, grow and learn. We spend more time at the office than at home with our families, so it’s really important that the team spirit is good, and people come into the office with a positive attitude each day.
Rule 2: Lead by example
I try to set a good example and lead in a positive way, and hopefully that will spread good energy in the office. Culture is everything. I want people to feel comfortable enough to raise their hand and ask a question or share an idea. I want the workplace to be very collaborative.
Rule 3: Work hard towards your goals
It’s really important to have a strong vision. Ever since I was little, I’ve been writing down my goals in a book, no matter what kind of goals they are – and I still do that today with both my business and personal goals. Once you have your vision, work really hard because nothing comes for free. It’s hard work to run a company, no matter the size.
“Once you have your vision, work really hard because nothing comes for free.”
Rule 4: Be willing to learn
When we started the company, my husband and I did everything. We did customer service, we packed orders, we designed. I believe it’s important to learn the business yourself before you hire a team as you actually have a better understanding of every role.
Rule 5: Hire people smarter than you
And don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Learn from everybody – because the more you ask, the more you know yourself and that’s really important.
Rule 6: Accept change and challenges
Running a business, each day has a new challenge and you just have to deal with it and learn not to panic. In the beginning I panicked and got nervous when something didn’t go the way I had planned. Seven years into the business now, I realise everything always works out, maybe not the way I thought it would, but everything will be okay.
Rule 7: Be true, be you
This is tattooed on my arm and it’s a reminder to always stay true to myself and be myself. In all decisions I make, I try to remember that, from design to choosing partners to work with, it’s important to be true to yourself and listen to that gut feeling.