FASHION - INTERVIEW
Thursday, June 28, 2018
FASHION - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Minimalist life is only possible with minimalist products. Koala-Gear has developed bags and wallets to solve the various problems that users face in their daily lives. With their products JOEY, DJIN and LIO, they offer a solution-focused, stylish and handy collection. I talked to Yonatan Aldouby, Co-Founder of Koala-Gear, about Koala-Gear's philosophy, products, history and the future. In the following, you can read the story of how they came to these days and what their future plans are for this minimalist-style brand.
Yonatan, could you tell us a little about your background and design experience?
As a child, I was always inspired by design and fine arts as well as by mechanical engineering. I would describe myself as a self-taught industrial designer because I have actually never studied it at school but rather from experience. I joined forces with Efrat Michman, a fashion designer and together we founded Koala-Gear with the idea to combine technical and aesthetic concepts into one holistic brand.
Please tell us about Koala-Gear. How did Koala-Gear idea was born and what is the story behind it? What inspired you?
I have always been attracted to textile designs and working techniques. Before Koala-Gear I had already a lot of experience with backpacks' suspension systems. During the process of creating the Koala-Gear brand, I had the idea to take this knowledge to the urban backpacks world which is usually focused on very different features. In order to achieve this, I teamed with Efrat Michman, an experienced fashion designer, and Andreas Lanz, a marketing strategist, and together we founded Koala-Gear. Our motto is to make the functional beautiful, but it can go also vice versa - to make the beautiful functional, for example, to combine functional and beautiful aspects into one line of products.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the beginning period? How did you solve them?
Well, R&D for such products is very expensive - besides production - and we needed the funds to start. We decided to take the crowdfunding path which is very risky. First, you need to create a convincing product and marketing campaign. In addition, you need to invest plenty of time in building a supportive community that loves your idea. We spent several thousands of dollars from our own pocket and about a year of work before we launched our first crowdfunding campaign. We were lucky because we got very good feedback from our community and it helped us keep growing based on hard work.
Do you use JOEY and DJIN in your daily life? What do you enjoy most about using JOEY and DJIN?
Sure I do, I really enjoy using JOEY's side pockets which are built to give an instant access to your cell phone and wallet. I just hate carrying those in my pants pockets but I need them to be accessible, so we made these two pockets on the sides of JOEY. As for DJIN, I mostly enjoy the cards holder as well as the secret stash pocket (which is actually so secret that we have a real problem: Some of our customers couldn't find it...)
What can Koala-Gear offer us that other brands have not?
I think that each one of our products is uniquely showcasing what I have mentioned before - the combination of functionality and aesthetics. In our design process, we never take things for granted and always try to rethink the product, because we like it to be the first of its kind.
LIO: The Urban Minimalist Bag, your active Kickstarter project reached its target 15 days before the project deadline. What was the key point of your success?
For me, LIO is the product I am most proud of. I believe it is the most simple, minimalist and intuitive bag out there and is aiming for individuals that are looking for something different and yet simple.
How often do you add a new design to your collection? Do you plan for any new Kickstarter project?
Good question! The design process for a single product takes about one year. There is a new bag similar to JOEY that we are currently working on. We are still in the working process.
Which media types do you prefer for advertising? Which media type is the most effective advertising option according to your experiences?
We used Facebook as a tool to build our community and we currently have more than 20.000 followers. Kickstarter by itself is also a very good marketing and community building tool. However, I do actually believe that the best advertising method is word of mouth by our customers.
Please tell us about your team members. What type of experiences they have? What are their roles?
The main figures are Efrat Michman, the co-founder and fashion designer I have mentioned before. Hagai Hamburger is our Chief Operation Officer and also dealing regularly with business development, and Moshe Vogel, our customer care manager, deals mainly with fulfillment and our shop operations. Andreas Lanz, our 3rd co-founder, is focusing on marketing strategy.
Social media is now an indispensable part of our life. What do you think about social media marketing? Which one do you prefer most?
As mentioned, we currently work mostly with Facebook and Instagram as great tools to build our international community with. I believe that as long as people are using these tools, with care and control they are the best way.
How can our readers buy Koala-Gear products? Do you have an international delivery option?
We sell and ship our products internationally through our official website Koala-Gear.com
Thank you Yonatan.