Nathan Alexander, CEO of Boda Skins, first dabbled in influencer marketing during the early stages of his business, back in 2013. Back then, the move seemed like a massive gamble for the small British brand. But what came next made everything worth the risk…
Social media influencers changed everything for Nathan Alexander and his up-and-coming brand. Thanks to various top influencers, Boda Skins quickly caught the attention of consumers from all around the world. And before long, the British brand became a top international leather-goods specialist that is still going from strength to strength.
This is not just an incredible success story for small British fashion brands. It is a testament to the power of the influencer marketing industry – something that all brands need to know about. So, how exactly did influencers help Boda Skins flourish in such a short space of time? And how did they help Nathan Alexander to turn his up-and-coming brand into a multi-million-pound business? Read on to find out!
The Boda Skins Backstory
With a background in product design, Mancunian Nathan Alexander always seemed destined to become a great designer or innovator. But when Alexander made a life-changing trip to Turkey, his career really began to take off…
Nathan Alexander spent some living abroad in Turkey in his twenties, where he explored the Turkish countryside. There, he met Ibo Sahan, the owner of a local, family-run leather factory. Alexander was stunned by the skill and craftsmanship he saw in traditional Turkish leather making. So much so, he was convinced to start up a new business venture. He worked tirelessly to create a small range of handmade leather jackets in the Turkish factory. This early collaboration was the foundation for the high-end Boda Skins brand that so many know and love today.
Ever the innovator, Nathan Alexander looked to eBay to sell his small range of leather jackets. The products’ incredible Turkish craftmanship really helped the brand to stand out, and the orders soon came rolling in. But Nathan Alexander had real confidence in his product, and his heart was set on bigger things. He knew the business had more to give – he just needed to find a way to spread the message about his brand. And this is where his understanding of influencer marketing came in…
How Nathan Alexander Turned to Influencer Marketing
The internet has always been hugely important for Boda Skins as a brand. The range was launched on eBay and Boda Skins remains an online business at its heart today.
Clearly, Nathan Alexander is an innovative and progressive businessman, who always knew that the online market was the key to his brand’s success. But that’s not the full story of the online rise of Boda Skins.
Social media has proven particularly critical to the brand’s success. This is because Nathan Alexander knew early on how important a social media presence would be for his brand. And most of all, Alexander knew that the best way to achieve this would be through influencer marketing.
Back in 2013, social media looked slightly different to how it looks today. Sure, PewDiePie was still the world’s biggest YouTuber – but at the beginning of the year, he had less than 5 million subscribers, compared to today’s 80 million. Meanwhile, Facebook had far fewer features, Twitter looked completely different – Snapchat Stories and IGTV didn’t even exist yet! However, the features and platforms that did exist were becoming more and more popular, day-by-day. Social media was becoming a seriously big deal. And more and more people were starting to notice social media influencers as a result.
Back then, it was mostly very savvy, international brands that were harnessing the power of influencer marketing. It was uncommon to see small brands team up with influencers. But Nathan Alexander and Boda Skins broke this trend – and the resulting impact was incredible…
Nathan Alexander Dabbles in Influencer Marketing
Back in 2013, Nathan Alexander knew that dabbling in influencer marketing would be a risk – both for himself and his brand.
The brand had only a small number of jackets to its name. Moreover, the business had nothing in terms of external investments – and there was certainly no marketing budget. So, choosing to send a product to an individual for free would be a huge investment for the brand. But Alexander had done his research, and was convinced by the power of influencer marketing, and its relevance for his brand. He was confident about his product and certain of his business direction. And equally, he knew that influencers could help him to increase brand awareness, attract consumers and improve sales. But one issue still remained. If the investment was to pay off, the brand-influencer relationship had to be exactly right. So, which influencer did Alexander pick for that crucial first collaboration?
Boda Skins Meets Adam Gallagher
After some research and forethought, Nathan Alexander selected Adam Gallagher as the influencer he hoped would move Boda Skins from a small-time business to an established brand.
Adam Gallagher was born in New York in 1991. He was one of the original social media influencers and is particularly noted for being one of the first and one of the most popular male fashion influencers. Gallagher launched his fashion blog (I am Galla) at the tender age of 17, and has many loyal readers. He is also a huge name on Instagram (these days he has 2 million followers!).
Clearly, Adam Gallagher is an influential figure on social media – and Nathan Alexander recognised that. But most importantly, Alexander recognised that the cool, stylish lifestyle Gallagher represents is perfect for his brand – and its target market.
For Nathan Alexander, then, investing in Gallagher wasn’t so much a complete gamble, but a carefully-considered risk which he believed would pay off – as long as all went to plan. He chose to send one of his few £400 leather jackets out to the US, straight to Gallagher’s address. And from then on, he could only wait and see what happened. He could only hope that Gallagher would actually open and wear the jacket – and then, that he would genuinely photograph the jacket, and promote it positively to his legions of followers. Nathan Alexander really had put all his trust – and investment – into influencer marketing…
The Influencer Marketing Strategy Pays Off
Within weeks, Nathan Alexander’s huge marketing gamble started to pay off.
To Alexander’s delight, Adam Gallagher soon snapped a picture of himself in the Boda Skins jacket. He shared the image on Lookbook – a hugely popular social media platform for fashionistas, back in 2013. Thousands of young consumers saw the image – and flocked to Boda Skins’ online store from there.
To put the marketing move into context, Boda Skins had previously been selling just one to two jackets a day. Then, suddenly, the brand received three orders in just 10 minutes! More and more orders simply stacked up from there. In the end, the brand predicted that the original Adam Gallagher post alone triggered around 50 customers to make a purchase. That’s a huge statistic for a small business with no investors or marketing budget. It’s undeniable: Nathan Alexander’s growth-hack and knowledge about influencer marketing really did pay off.
Yes, such influencers of this calibre are more understanding of their value to businesses nowadays – so 99% of them won’t do such things for free anymore. Despite this, influencer marketing provides so much value; so much value that it’s worth allocating a serious budget towards it.
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Influencers Make Nathan Alexander a Multi-millionaire
The brand was quickly growing off the back of their communication with Adam Gallagher. But Nathan Alexander knew that he wasn’t done yet. With one successful influencer promotion under his belt, he knew that further social media collaborations were the key to his brand’s future success.
Moving forwards, Alexander began to consider how he could implement influencer marketing into his business more, by establishing influencer relationships more frequently and more methodically.
Alexander quickly targeted other top fashion influencers – like top German male fashion bloggers Magic Fox (aka Daniel Fox) and Alex Koch, and Australian influencer Jono Castano. This helped to bring more and more consumers to the brand.
As the brand grew, Nathan Alexander was also able to bring out a women’s clothing range. Top influencers like model Millie Hannah and photographer Misshattan now help to bring female consumers to the brand.
All in all, this range of influencers has helped to turn Alexander’s start-up business into a well-established high-end British fashion brand worth over £3.5 million. Not bad considering its humble beginnings just a few years ago.
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Where is Nathan Alexander today?
Nathan Alexander may be a multi-millionaire in 2019 – but he’s not thinking of slowing down any time soon.
These days, Alexander has a team of 30 employees, who work together to maintain Boda Skins’ incredible quality and reputation. Last year, he even invested in a new premises in Salford, Greater Manchester (worth £500,000).
In terms of clientele, Boda Skins is continuing to gain loyal customers – largely thanks to Nathan Alexander and his clever marketing strategy. As well as working regularly with top influencers, Alexander ensures that bonafide celebrities are wearing his brand, too. Stars like Justin Timberlake have been seen wearing Boda Skins jackets on tour, whilst other celebrities have been snapped in the brand in the media – including Khloe Kardashian, Johnny Depp and Olivia Palermo.
Many of these celebs have huge social media followings, too. This means that the brand gets promoted to a younger, Instagram-obsessed audience. And the brand is also promoted to consumers from around the world. Nathan Alexander also does a lot of trade in Australia, which is particularly beneficial. The differing seasons mean that the leather goods brand can thrive all year round!
Scale and Streamline your Influencer Marketing Strategy
It’s undeniable – this is one British fashion brand that has brought together craftmanship and an innovative marketing strategy to achieve cult status around the world. And, with a new denim line in the pipelines, and more celebrity collaborations lined up, it’s clear that Nathan Alexander still has big things in store for Boda Skins.
Whatever lies ahead for the brand, it’s clear that the brand’s journey all began with a brilliant influencer marketing strategy. If there’s one thing you take away from this brand’s story, let it be this: the right influencers really can transform the reputation of your brand. It simply involves making the right decisions.