How to successfully move from influencing to product development

A professional model since 1998, Lauren Vickers is no stranger to adapting and moving with the industry’s many shifts, shakes and catwalk shimmies. She’s also not one to be afraid to take a step off the catwalk (and away from the more traditional Instagram influencing gigs). It’s this tenacity mixed with a fierce entrepreneurial spirit pulsing through her veins that has seen Lauren tackle her latest venture: Paco Loves Luna.

Recently releasing the curated collection of quality eco-friendly activewear, we decided to track Lauren down to find out why she decided to launch the venture, how being involved in the influencer space has helped in the initial stages, lessons learned, and why it’s important for influencers to look at expanding beyond the digital space.

What was behind your decision to launch Paco Loves Luna?
I practically live in activewear – health and wellness are such a big passion of mine and a big part of my everyday life – and people were always stopping me in the gym and on the street asking where my activewear was from as I love fun prints and colours. I had worked with so many great brands with amazing quality activewear over the years in my modelling career, and there were some that I hadn’t seen much of in Australia, so I took the chance to bring some out here.

Have you found that being an influencer has been helpful in launching?
My experience of having been behind the scenes all these years has definitely helped. I intrinsically know about quality control, marketing, promotion and the importance of shooting products correctly – and having the contacts within the industry has definitely helped me bring my brand to life! There were so many things I learned along the way in figuring it all out from start to finish for myself, though.

Have you had much support from other influencers?
It’s been really well received so far and I have a great pool of talent to draw from when it’s time to get bigger and better! It’s great to see a few others in the industry also bringing out their own businesses in different markets. It’s incredible to think that this career didn’t really exist 10 years ago – and now so many are branching out into different things having had success in this space!

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learnt from moving from the digital space into product development?
I’ve learned how important being eco-friendly and sustainable fashion is to my audience. Sustainability has had a massive impact on the fashion industry, and I will definitely continue to look for more brands that support this ethos, as well as looking for eco-friendly manufacturers within Australia to eventually develop my own line.

Learning how to create websites and the back-end for inventory and marketing was also a new challenge for me, and probably the biggest lesson was learning when to step back and delegate so that I can concentrate on the bigger picture rather than trying to do absolutely everything myself.

Do you think it’s important for influencers to look at expanding beyond just working in the digital space?
I think it can only enhance your skill set and your career. I was lucky that I had the best of both worlds because I started in the industry long before things went digital and I learned some hard lessons early on. You have to be able to do more than just post pictures on Instagram to have a career in this industry. There’s a lot of value still in print, being able to present yourself in person, and connect with people face-to-face. Creating a tangible product is a great way to push yourself and not have all of your eggs in one basket.

If you could give some words of advice for other influencers looking to develop a physical product – what would they be?
Work with something that helps people, and feeds your passions – the things that light you up and could keep you talking about all day. When you work with passion, it’s infectious to people and you don’t mind putting in the hard yards for the work. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask them for advice. Invite them for lunch or a coffee and ask if you can pick their brain a little. If they don’t have time, ask if it’s okay to send a few questions to gauge advice. Learning from other people’s mistakes is a much more efficient use of your time… 😉

All images: Lauren Vickers wearing Paco Loves Luna

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