Courtney and Lindsey Glasser
Lindsey and Courtney Glasser founded Grey Bandit shortly after finishing their undergraduate education in 2017 along with their triplet Robert Glasser. Less than four years later their post-college project is a multi-million dollar business, hitting $5 million in sales last week — thanks to influencer marketing.
Grey Bandit, an clothing brand that pairs confidence building and mental health and fashion, stemmed from an online shopping affinity.
“In 2015 [Courtney and I] were shopping so much,” Lindsey says. “At the time, we loved buying from these amazing Australian boutiques, but there was nothing here that was on-trend, easy to find and access and that we could shop at our fingertips.”
So, for her senior project, while attending Drexel University, Lindsey wrote a business plan for Grey Bandit.
“We had always talked about doing something like this down the road,” Lindsey says. “Courtney was going to do a mockup website for her senior project, but we knew we needed something more, another hook.”
Lindsey noticed that some brands were taking on charitable initiatives. With mental health a subject near and dear to their hearts, they decided to prioritize it parallel to their brand in an effort to relate to their customer base and build community.
With Grey Bandit, Lindsey and Courtney aim to spread confidence and positive vibes — but not only through clothes, through authenticity, too.
“It was important to us to share real people and ourselves, our stories. We felt like the two (clothing and mental health) fit together,” Lindsey says.
Beyond what they were selling, Courtney and Lindsey thought about how to sell.
“I’ve always had an interest in people’s behaviors and purchase patterns,” Courtney says. “I knew I was shopping for things that I was seeing on Instagram as were my friends.”
Courtney adds that she saw people posting on Instagram and their followers were responding by commenting to ask where the clothes featured were purchased. She saw value in that.
That observation and implementation became one of the pillars of Grey Bandit’s growth.
After launching, their team reached out to micro influencers and sent them clothes in exchange for posts on Instagram — for the feed and also on Instagram stories.
Grey Bandit grew slowly, amassing between 3,000 and 4,000 Instagram followers in their first few months of operating in 2017. Now, their Instagram has 165,000 followers.
Later, they began working with larger influencers and their managers — when they reached out about collaborating, Courtney says they received requests for payment that went way beyond their budget.
“Our initial thought was, ‘Ok if they have one million followers [then] if only 1% of their followers buy, we should be great! Right?’” Courtney asks. “Well, we were wrong. A huge part of our growth was trial and error.”
But now, they’ve discovered how to navigate influencer marketing and it’s paid off.
They learned that “girls that create strong content that is relevant to our audience, but only have a few thousand followers” tend to go viral, according to Courtney.
The quality of the content shared had to remain relatable. Instagram “hauls,” for example, have been beneficial. “We could repost and our customers could see a realistic try on of our clothes,” Courtney says.
But influencer marketing goes beyond just sending out some product in exchange for a post or two. It’s all about relationship building and authenticity — just as their brand is.
“I started to build relationships with girls that had the potential to grow beyond a micro influencer,” Courtney says. “I like to call it ‘marrying an influencer.’”
Instead of hoping to grow as a result of a mega-influencer’s large following, Grey Bandit has grown with influencers who were also rising.
“If you collaborate with someone one time, you’re not necessarily going to see your return on investment,” Courtney explains. “It usually takes a customer seven times to hear about a brand in order for them to make a purchase. If an influencer is only talking about your brand one time, their followers may be interested, but they’re not ready to buy yet.”
And when an influencer is making a number of posts about your product, as opposed to a one-off, authenticity is stronger, Lindsey adds.
They’ve found that a three month contract is an ideal starting point.
And they’re taking their tactics past Instagram.
“Influencer marketing on Instagram has become so saturated,” Courtney says. “We now use TikTok as well and incorporate it in with our Instagram marketing which has helped us grow tremendously.”
Utilizing a new platform comes with trial and error — but it’s important to take advantage.
Partially thanks to their TikTok marketing, their sales have soared. One half of their sales to date are from Aug. 2020 on. “It’s all about pivoting our marketing with what’s new, growing and adapting,” Courtney says.
It helps, no matter what platform, to find influencers whose audiences are “inspired” by them — that audience will be more willing to purchase based on the content that that influencer is publishing.
I am a contributor covering female digital influence looking primarily at female influencers and ecommerce entrepreneurs for ForbesWomen, Forbes’ vertical that focuses on