Digital Branding in Style with Jeff Karly.

Letter From the Editor

With the Sun barely in the heavens and a fresh coat of  deodorant applied, I wrapped myself in garb only to be proverbially burned once having returned to the homestead, and made my way to the Supermarket. At the ungodly hour of 7:30am during the days of Covid, the market was bare. Checkout clerks, stock boys, two scruffy looking customers and yours truly. Treasuring in the 100ft space between us, with Winter gloves I unfastidiously pawed at a bag to pick some apples.

As I struggled to open the bag, I was pushed aside by a new patron as she hastefully grabbed a bag and several apples. I stood there, stunned. With social distancing on the forefront of everyone’s mind, I managed to find the one person in New York completely oblivious to the subject in a DESERTED supermarket. Still gripped in the throws of post slumber fog, I was at a loss for words to chirp at the blonde bombshell and briskly made distance perusing my way through the hall of food. 

Returning home I burned my clothing appropriately, showered and prepared my delectable protein. The sun rose through my cramped kitchen and cast marvelous morning light and shadow. I rushed to my Leica and captured this small moment, while trying to achieve the perfect over easy egg. 

A golden hour of creation. Had it not been for the current circumstances, I most likely would have missed the moment. Instead I filled not only my stomach, but my heart with Art at such an unreasonable hour. Take a moment this week and cherish the unusual. You never know, you might stumble upon satiation.


Jeff Karly

The Pillars – Building a Brand in the Digital Market

I believe 3 pillars should be the foundation for starting a brand in the digital age. Finding out what makes you unique, how can what you’re building provide purpose to you and your audience and does it bring you joy building it — purpose, light, and talent. Perhaps it may seem that building a brand is simple, however, there are many things to consider; the product, supply chain, audience, aesthetic, channels, partnership, collaborations and most importantly resilience and persistence. Knowing it will take some time to establish and build. You should truly ask yourself what exactly you want. Do you want something that will hit immediately or something that will stand the test of time? With over saturation that comes with social media, things can get drowned out. It’s important to distinguish yourself through storytelling and a strong product.

If you are not rolling in money, simplicity and refinement is your greatest ally. Competing in the digital age also requires an omni-channel approach that integrates both online and offline touch points. Stick to what you’re good at, but how does it translate both online and offline? Will you start with a collection or a drop model. How will you incorporate drop model, pop up experience & the digital space? You’d want to create an organic following, understanding your tribe and who you want to cater too. Over the past years, we’ve seen a shift in the power of storytelling, authenticity that drives psychology. Authenticity is the driving force, consumers are smarter and are more engaged, they can tell if the message is real or not. Should you be on-trend or create your own lane? You can look at current trends in the market, but in general, the brand needs to remain authentic, always remembering your audience. In the age where influencer-based marketing drives engagement through many channels, a brand needs to distinguish its voice.

What is the overall aesthetic, what look is the brand aiming for? What is your price range? How do you plan to reach your audience? How are you tracking analytics? Feedback and interaction are essential to building a brand in the digital age, you should be willing to take immediate feedback to design and create through that. Listen and respond quickly. Your team is essential, remove ego when building a team. Work with brands adjacent to yours, building laterally as opposed to vertically.

When I started Unique Expozzure, funny enough for a fashion lifestyle brand, the supply chain wasn’t something I fully considered, after all, I didn’t go in thinking I wanted to scale. I knew I wanted to create a brand with product that spoke to a loner, underlying ideas of depression, a kid that projects their voice through style and clothing. From a product that spoke to the individual, to the intersection where Unique Expozzure examines ideations of dichotomy, focusing on the spectrum of Blackness and the Black experience as it relates to neighborhood, love, and fear. Building a brand in the digital space isn’t not easy, it takes commitment. There are many factors that you have to consider, especially in the current
VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). With Covid-19 disrupting all industries, fashion brands are in a space to help than do more damage. How does your brand fit into this new world?