Luxe.CO Founder’s Talk | Dialogue with Short Sentence Founder – How Emotions Drive Brand’s Quiet Growth?

8月 01, 2023 has been tracking the growth trajectories of Chinese and overseas designer brands and engaging in dialogues with their founders to gain a deeper understanding of the development patterns and key factors of fashion brands driven by creativity.

We have discovered that an outstanding designer brand inevitably experiences a subtle resonance among its founder, brand, and the prevailing emotions of the era. While the first two elements are often discussed in the industry, the latter is frequently overlooked.

This theme is also the focus of the recent online course Designers and Fashion Brands launched by Orange Bay, aimed at delving into and exploring it further.

Recently, the designer fashion brand, Short Sentence, opened its first store in Southwest China at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li in Chengdu, the fourth store following its presence in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Although not heavily promoted externally, this young brand, founded in 2015, is methodically expanding its retail network and gaining increasing love and recognition from people.

Prior to her departure to Chengdu, we arranged a visit to Short Sentence’s studio in Shanghai and had a conversation with its founder, Guan Lin, about her work and life.

Through in-depth discussions with Guan Lin, we arrived at three important insights into the growth of designer brands:

1. Being Grounded: Managers Need a Good “Feel” for Things
2. Gathering Popularity: Brands Meet Success Through Broad Appeal
3. Resonating with the Emotions of the Times: Consumers Follow in Harmony

Guan Lin

Being Grounded: Managers Need a Good “Feel” for Things

In 2015, Guan Lin and her friends founded the brand Short Sentence in Shanghai. In the early stages of entrepreneurship, it wasn’t a loudly-promoted brand, especially in the vibrant landscape of designer brands and various brand activities in Shanghai. It appeared relatively quiet, perhaps because their main focus was not on the limelight but behind the scenes.

As the brand’s founder, Guan Lin introduced herself on her Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) account as “Short Sentence’s exclusive online customer service.” She smiled and said, “I’m not kidding; I often have many people contacting me directly through private messages, and I always respond to them with great joy and sincerity.”

Reflecting on the early days of her entrepreneurship, Guan Lin personally engaged in selling products and experienced first-hand interactions with customers. This profound experience made her realize, “You need to see their reactions, what attracted them, and what made them decide to buy.”

In 2018, Short Sentence officially opened its flagship store on Tmall, with product prices ranging from 1000 to 3000 yuan. Currently, the store has over 400,000 followers, an increase of nearly 50% compared to last year.

It’s worth mentioning that Short Sentence’s online store is also fully managed by the team itself. After exploring various options, Guan Lin and her team decided to learn how to run an online store themselves, despite the initial challenges. Fortunately, the store’s growth has been rapid over the past two years.

Engaging with customers and selling products directly on the frontline undoubtedly allows brand managers to have a better “feel” for their products and customers’ preferences.

In our research on overseas designer brands, we discovered that many brand founders had previously worked as salespeople in their own stores during their early years. In subsequent interviews, they revealed that the experiences of selling products, placing orders, and managing inventory were extremely valuable. It can be said that these experiences help propel entrepreneurial brands toward commercial success more quickly.

Gathering Popularity: Brands Meet Success Through Broad Appeal

In January 2021, the opening of the flagship store on Anfu Road marked an important turning point in Short Sentence’s development, enhancing customers’ awareness of the brand.

Following this store on Anfu Road, other trendy brands like Deja Vu and Cabana also opened nearby, making Anfu Road a vibrant street, especially after the pandemic.

Short Sentence store on Anfu Road

Since this street-front store’s establishment, “community” has become a defining characteristic of Short Sentence, and “Short Sentence girls” have become a nickname used by the brand to engage with its customers.

Guan Lin described the Anfu Road store during an interview with “Anfu Road is like a community street, so we wanted to create a very approachable atmosphere for the store. We set aside the concept of a high-end brand and turned the courtyard into a public space, giving people a comfortable feeling. We launched an exclusive series called ‘be a good neighbor,’ and we hold events approximately every two months, inviting local creative individuals to share their stories.”

Since April 2021, the store has been organizing “Neighboring Gatherings” events, periodically inviting art and design professionals to share their insights. Guests have included Kai Mu, the architect responsible for the store’s design, the project leader of the Chinese Sandwich media platform dedicated to exploring urban culture, and Marry Ma, the founder of Super Plants and curator of the Textile Library.

In February of this year, Short Sentence also collaborated with the renowned sports brand Jordan to host a workshop event at the Anfu Road store. The event invited girls who love sneaker culture to freely express their creativity and experience the blend of Jordan and Short Sentence styles.

In June, Short Sentence’s first store in Southwest China opened in Chengdu’s Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li, occupying the second floor of the fountain square in front of the Apple Store.

Before the store’s grand opening ceremony, Short Sentence teamed up with a local bakery located on the corner of Wangfu Street with the theme “Short Sentence is around.” The bakery was wrapped in Short Sentence’s signature yellow and pink stripes.

Guan Lin said, “When people get to know Short Sentence, we want the brand to be in familiar places, places where you buy bread every day or have a cup of coffee.”

During this collaboration, the bakery also launched a limited-edition croissant with a unique flavor, and all takeaway packaging featured Short Sentence’s signature striped elements.

Besides the bakery, Short Sentence also provided its signature striped bouquet packaging to a flower shop on Jinquan Street in Chengdu.

When asked about the activities planned for the brand’s store opening, Guan Lin immediately responded that they must first invite their good friends in Chengdu!

On June 20th, Short Sentence officially opened its first store in Southwest China at Chengdu’s Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li. This store also marks the brand’s first “Gallery” themed concept store.

Resonating with the Emotions of the Times: Consumers Follow in Harmony

What kind of brand image comes to mind when we think of Short Sentence?

From a consumer’s perspective, it exudes a contemporary urban vibe, a relaxed and artistic feel, tinged with some playful wit.

If we can sense the contemporary urban vibe in niche overseas brands, then the relaxed and playful essence is probably the most differentiating aspect of Short Sentence. For instance, the brand once launched a “working animal” series, featuring slogans with a touch of humorous satire, resonating with the emotions of contemporary young people.

In 2021, the brand also introduced a home wear series called “Society of Home.” This collection reflects Guan Lin’s observation of the contemporary lifestyle of young people – a relaxed state, ready to go out anytime, and blurring the boundaries between home and leisure. The series continues to introduce new products.

After several conversations with Guan Lin, realized that this brand identity emanates from her own relaxed, joyful, and approachable personality. For example, whenever she mentions her team, she showers them with praise: “They’re amazing, having achieved so much!”

Especially for brands established by designers, the brand’s essence is often inherited from the founder. This essence is like a hormone that emanates from within, influencing the store’s decoration, design style, visual communication, marketing methods, and so on – all elements that constitute the external manifestations of this hormone.

When more consumers of this era are attracted to this hormone, it activates the resonance among the founder, the brand, and the times we mentioned at the beginning of the article.

Fashion and clothing reflect the times, with each era, each group, and each moment blending various complex emotions. However, after the pandemic, one emotion that might not be the most intense but is cherished by everyone is the genuine interaction between people. From rapid development and digitization, people are returning to a sense of intimacy and ease.

Combining this emotional window of the contemporary public, we believe that Short Sentence’s warmth and relaxation will resonate even more strongly with many people.

| Image Credit: Provided by Short Sentence, Guan Lin’s Little Red Book

| Editor: LeZhi