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April 24, 2012

The most-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history

Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead are the young entrepreneurs behind the most successful fashion project on crowdfunding platform,, to date. They’re also the founders of {r}evolution apparel, a fashion line based in Austin, Texas that’s designed for the socially and environmentally-conscious female traveler.

Last fall they created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 by December 22, 2011. The campaign was to help them set up a pre-sales model for The Versalette, a sustainable dress that can be worn 15 different ways. Turns out the Kickstarter audience loved their video campaign and they more than tripled their goal, inspiring 796 backers to pledge $64,246.

To give you a brief backgrounder on Kickstarter, it’s “the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.” TIME magazine named Kickstarter one of the Best Inventions of 2010 and one of the Best Websites in 2011. In 2011 they also had over one million pledgers raise over $100 million. In 2012 that number is set to triple to $300 million.

But what sets a successful Kickstarter campaign apart from the rest? What’s the secret? We were curious to find out, so we asked Shannon and Kristin if they would share their story with our readers. In the answers below, the spirited entrepreneurs explain where the idea to use Kickstarter came from, the biggest challenge they had with the campaign, and their advice for other entrepreneurs looking to leverage the crowdfunding platform.

Interview with Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead, Creators of The Versalette

Whose idea was it to use Kickstarter?
We decided we would launch a Kickstarter campaign pretty early on, when we first started talking about raising capital. Initially, the idea was to wait until we had a manufacturer to produce the entire line of 10 pieces. But in the Fall of 2011, after a lot of production dead-ends, we decided it would be smarter (and easier!) to run a campaign for just one piece. We’re so happy we did.

What was the most surprising part of running the campaign?
The response we got from complete strangers. We knew our moms would buy a Versalette and help us spread the word, but when people we had never met started backing us with an equal amount of enthusiasm we were totally blown away. When we first pressed that launch button we were terrified about asking for $20,000 — the fact that we tripled our goal was a total shock.

What challenges did you encounter?
The challenges were more mental. We didn’t have too much of a problem keeping momentum up, but we definitely worked for it. We wrote guest posts and did interviews for any and every media outlet who would have us — whether it was 10 readers or 10,000. Keeping up with the publicity was pretty taxing, and we were definitely relieved when the 35 days were up.

What were you able to do with the funds?
We set up our campaign on a pre-sale model, so for example, the $75 reward got a backer the Versalette. So, about half of the money went towards production of our first batch of Versalettes. A big portion of the remainder is going towards our two-month Sustainable Fashion Tour this summer when we’ll drive a mobile pop-up shop down the west coast from Vancouver to San Francisco.

Would you fundraise with Kickstarter again?
If it was applicable! At this point, though, Kickstarter gave us a great start and a platform for attention from potential investors interested in a profit-share. Who knows, maybe we’ll launch our second piece via Kickstarter!

Do you have any advice for others who want to use Kickstarter?
Price your rewards fairly — make sure you’re giving backers a worthy reward for their pledge. Use the updates feature on the Kickstarter profile. Your backers want to feel a part of the campaign and know that you care about their support — keep them engaged.

Start your publicity campaign early. Set up a Twitter account, Facebook page, Pinterest account, etc. and start spreading the word that you’re going to be launching a Kickstarter. The earlier you get people on board who believe in your product and your story, the better.

Oh, and a killer video is crucial.