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Come As You Are: The Leukbook Story | #179

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EP 179
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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

With a background in psychology, exceptional communication skills and a burning desire to help size 14+ women look and feel their best, Katrina is well-equipped to lead LeukBook and, with it, a push for a more inclusive fashion industry. Katrina comes to lead LeukBook following a decade in the government and non-profit sectors in which she has consistently demonstrated her ability to lead the development and execution of exciting new ideas across four continents. She also brings extensive leadership experience, having managed large (30+ people) multidisciplinary teams. Katrina holds a MBA from the University of Sydney Business School, and a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) and Master of International Relations from Griffith University. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds professional accreditations in fashion styling, communications, and media relations.

You can contact Katrina at LinkedIn

Catherine's interest in fashion started at a young age inspired by firstly her grandfather’s dealings with high end fashion houses and then her mother who carried on the legacy. Coming from a long line of innovative entrepreneurs being a size 14+ woman herself, coupled with her core values of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility she was driven to start LeukBook.

Catherine is equal parts visionary and integrator making her well suited to thrive in the startup landscape. This means she has the intrinsic ability to strategically develop a vision and execute on ideas to actualise to fruition. Catherine brings global team leadership skills to deliver high performance results. Her business acumen has been grounded in cross industry experience meaning she has the innate ability to rapidly solve complex problems. Catherine holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Sydney Business School, is a Chartered Accountant, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle.

You can contact Catherine at LinkedIn

For Katrina and Catherine, Leukbook is all about plus fashion, fit and family

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Katrina Van De Ven and Catherine Olivier who are just five weeks into the launch of Leukbook (that’s L-E-U-K book) a one stop plus size fashion shop.  With 90 percent of size 14+ customers feeling under-served by existing shopping options, Katrina and Catherine knew they could make a serious difference in this space.  They have ten brands currently on board and are set to double this number in the next few months.  In the conversation, we discuss the lucrative plus market that many brands are leaving behind, the importance of ‘fit’ (and some other choice F words), and Leukbook’s plans for global expansion.   

“At the end of the day, people want to see bodies that look like theirs and see what garments are going to look like on them”

Katrina Van De Ven

Questions answered in this episode include
  • How significant is the plus market?
  • What have you had to do differently to cater to size 14+?
  • How can retailers be more inclusive with sizing options?

Fashion 

(Catherine) “I think that there’s often a misconception that plus women, plus people, don’t necessarily want to invest in their wardrobe, but there’s also this misconception that you are always striving to change your body size or shape. And so I think that the straight size fashion industry has really put plus fashion to the side. 

But the reality is, through our customer validation, there was an overwhelming response in that these women really want gorgeous clothes to go with their bodies, but they just can’t find these amazing garments. And so that’s the genesis of our business model and how it came about.”

Fit

(Katrina) “When we were out talking to our customers about 85% of them said, “Look, I have an issue with one body part when I’m shopping online.” I think all of your listeners will resonate with the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. And it doesn’t always align with the information that’s provided. 

So we know that when it comes to women’s fashion, you often get a bust, waist and hip measurement. But for our customers, they’re often saying, “Oh, my shoulders are a bit broader. My thighs are a bit bigger.” That’s not adequate information for me to make a decision, which is why we’re partnering with our brands. 

We’ve got additional data points that respond to the specific pain points of our customers when it comes to fit. And we are using that to create some technology that will provide them with bespoke recommendations based on those pain points.”

Family

(Katrina) “Because the Plus community have felt underserved by shopping options, these women have got into the habit of essentially crowdsourcing. So what that means is they’ll jump on a Facebook group, they’ll jump on an Instagram page and they’ll say, “Hey guys, I have a date on Saturday night. I’m a size 22. I want a little black dress. Where can I shop? Where’s going to ship in time? Show me a photo of yourselves wearing something like what I’m after.” And that’s amazing. And the community spirit that underpins that is incredible. It’s entirely altruistic.

So we’re incentivizing all of that behaviour on Leukbook. We have an inbuilt community forum. And on top of that, we have a loyalty program, which incentivizes women providing that advice, providing that feedback, which we in turn give straight to our brands to help them improve. And we also enable our customers to earn loyalty points through those community minded behaviours.”

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