In Conversation with Simone Lewis from Nala

Natalie Dean-Weymark


February 6, 2024

This journal article is taken from Episode 4 of Compass Studio’s podcast series “In Conversation” hosted by Co-Founder and Director Natalie Dean-Weymark.

As marketers, we often fall into the well-rehearsed monologue of all the things that would be possible "if only we had more budget"... 

But on this week's episode of In Conversation, Head of Brand & Product at Nala, Simone Lewis, talks about how creativity doesn't have a price-point and that entry can be almost free.

It's a refreshing take on an age-old problem, and if Nala's efforts in-market are anything to go by, the proof is in the pudding. 

Simone covers low-cost but high-attention campaigns – from sending an inflatable breast down the Yarra river to campaign against online censorship, or launching the brand via g-strings on car bonnets. This is a brand that thinks outside-of-the-box. Read on, or listen here 👇

Q: What’s your favorite campaign and why is it your favourite?

A: One of our core pillars at Nala is that everyone is welcome, which is very obviously seen through our marketing. It's much more about a mindset than a specific sense of style. It's an energy, a way of carrying yourself and it’s about making people feel their most confident self. We launched the brand in 2022 along with an online fit guide, which features over 30 images of naked chests. It basically allows you to select a chest which mostly looks like you and it recommends bras and tops from our range. It's real, disruptive, and serves everyone. From those who've had mastectomies to breastfeeding, or are transgender. We've changed so many people's lives through this experience in itself, and we've inspired many. We can't wait to keep building on this.

Q: It's an incredible approach to online shopping, focusing on real bodies. How did the idea originate?

A: It's the world's first global fit guide of its kind. When the idea emerged, we faced the challenge of execution. It's now a reality, and we're proud of the impact it's had. The response exceeded expectations, and we've learned a lot. Fit Guide Version Two is in the works to include those who missed out. It marked the beginning of an amazing journey for Nala.

Q: What do you wish you knew before the campaign?

A: Our campaigns often focus on products or strong messages. This one took a unique stance. We initially struggled to find participants unfamiliar with our brand. Originally planning a day of shooting, the overwhelming response showed we could have expanded to two or three days. 

Q: Do you think there’s a recipe to getting it right in the purpose-led space?

A: I think first and foremost you need to remain so honest, it's very important and it's number one. I think you need to demonstrate integrity and anchor a strong sense of purpose. You need to avoid diluting who you are as a brand for fear of losing appeal to the majority. You need to rather rally a village and while you rally that village, you need to be bold in the stand that you take. Your marketing efforts need to change from selling to serving, and audiences need to then become communities. Your community will follow your brand beliefs, and that ultimately guides the actions of the brand.

In reality, it's a lot harder to bring that to light in a very authentic way, especially when you're facing challenging situations like supply chain issues, or divisive topics. If you have that written down on your computer and you look at it while you are working, I think that's an amazing recipe for success. 

Q: Big budget, what do you believe moves the needle most?

A: A substantial budget is advantageous, but strong storytelling is more crucial. Focus on concise, disruptive, engaging, clever, and purposeful messaging. Smaller budgets can be equally effective with a compelling story. Message alignment matters more than the budget size.

Q: What about when working with a small budget?

A: Think outside the box, whether the budget is large or small. Small budgets demand creativity, and at Nala, we embrace unconventional approaches. For instance, our inflatable breasts campaign against online censorship wasn't a huge budget initiative but was impactful. We attached the slogan, “it's just a boob” and we had some cracking reactions on the day. Creating viral content, which makes an impact, matters a lot. As part of our launch strategy, we dropped Gs on cars, with a note, “I think you left these at my place, Nala XX”. That was the perfect way for us to go to market, and it was cheap and effective.

Nala's low cost, high impact campaign; sending a 10mx10m inflatable breast down the Yarra River to campaign against online censorship.

Q: What’s the biggest external challenge that you've had and how have you gotten around it?

A: Our main challenges relate to online censorship. Platforms like Meta, Google, TikTok, and Pinterest can block or censor content without warning. As an underwear brand, we confront this issue daily. As a result, we've had to work really hard to build out other areas of the business. 

Another challenge we face is issues around stock delays. It takes five months to get stock from the warehouse and factory, which is a really long time. We're not fast fashion. Our products are made with care and from quality, which takes time. It’s difficult to predict what we're going to need to sell in half a year's time. It's a good problem to have, but our growth has been overwhelmingly positive, which is awesome. Luckily our fans are super patient with us.

Q: What podcasts do you listen to for personal development?

A: Prue Chapman's podcast, "One Wild Ride," is a constant source of inspiration. It delves into innovative people's personal stories, aligning with business and positive impact. Prue is a hustler, mentor, and disruptor, making her podcast a must-listen.

Q: Who are the voices you follow in marketing?

A: Upparel is a brand we recently collaborated with, who recycle underwear and bras, commercially clean them and use the fibres to give them a second life. Their approach to recycling bras aligns with our values and they've really inspired us. We have so much to learn from them and we’d love to find more ways to work more closely together.

Q: Who are the brands you’re always keeping an eye on?

A: Ganni is a B Corp certified brand with a unique Scandi 2.0 style. Their engagement, loyalty, and confidence really resonate with me. Sometimes I feel like Nala is Ganni's long lost cousin. I love their runways, their campaigns, their joy rides. I think their content's eye-catching and engaging and I think they're a special brand. Nike is another obvious one, I think they inspire us through their storytelling so well. When you see an ad from Nike, it's so not about the product, it’s the emphasis.

Q: How has Nala adapted to changes in consumer content habits?

A: The saturated social media landscape demands a focus and emphasis on engaging content. At Nala, we invest time and energy into creating content that captures attention and resonates with our audience. We're a small team, but we have exciting plans for the next 12 to 18 months. Our focus is on close-term planning, ensuring engaging content and campaigns continue to tell our story effectively.

Like what you read? Listen to the full episode podcast with Simone Lewis here or read more from our other In Conversation guests over on the Compass journal here

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