With 98,000 followers on Instagram, an internationally adored footwear label, and a freshly established podcast under their belt, sister duo Jess and Stef Dadon are showing no signs of slowing down. The sisters - better known, perhaps, as “How Two Live” - sat down with BYO in anticipation of their latest collection drop for TWOOBS, to chat all things fashion, Instagram, podcasts and more.
BYO: After nearly four years of TWOOBS selling sneakers like hotcakes, you’re branching into a new collection of sneakers! So - why sneakers, specifically?
Stef: We’ve been doing TWOOBS sandals for three years now, and we’ve built up this die-hard following who love to wear our shoes for all occasions. But when it comes to winter, sandals aren’t ideal - obviously there’s some still wearing them with socks, but we just thought it would be so great to have that winter offering, and we thought that sneakers go so perfectly with the TWOOBS ethos of comfort and fashion. Also, it can be difficult to find sneakers that are animal-friendly - and that’s something TWOOBS does so well, so we thought it’d be perfect to create a fashion-forward animal-friendly sneaker. There are other brands out there doing sneakers, but we often say people take fashion too seriously, and we want to have fun with fashion - and I think you can really see that in the sneakers.
BYO: Tell us a bit about the design process.
Jess: The Autumn/Winter collection was inspired by this neo-Tokyo dream that we dreamed up. We brought in elements of futuristic fashion with the metallics; and the frills were a really fun addition to the sneaker. TWOOBS is all about adding a little unexpected element, something really thoughtful, and so when we dreamed up a sneaker, it was never going to be plain and boring and something you see from someone else. We really wanted to take it to the next level, and be able to offer our customers something super fashion-forward that you might see a higher-end retailer doing but hitting that really affordable price point.
BYO: How long have the TWOOBS sneakers been in the works? Is there anything else exciting in the pipeline?
Stef: We love to test and test before we release anything. For this sneaker, we’ve probably been sampling for two years now.
Jess:There was a big design process that goes on behind closed doors, and so this is a secret we’ve been keeping for way too long. We still have a lot of ideas that we’re in the process of executing that will be released in collections to come - this is just the first little snippet.
BYO: You guys launched TWOOBS off the back of your personal brand as How Two Live - what’s it been like to journey from influencers to a label?
Stef: It’s definitely been a slow journey. Like, when we first launched, we thought we could just launch a product and it’ll just sell right? Which is so wrong! It’s all about building customer trust and creating a story and lifestyle that we’ve been able to bring people into. It wasn’t by any means an overnight thing.
Jess: The great thing about having our own label is allowing the aesthetic of it to grow with us - something we really present with TWOOBS is you feel like you’re shopping in our shoe wardrobe. And as we grow, the brand grows with us. So you can kind of see that when we launched, we were younger, the colours were a bit more popping, the fabrications were a bit less sophisticated. So, as we’re growing and finding our own way in the industry, we’re bringing all of that knowledge into the shoes.
Stef: Launching TWOOBS with an existing community and audience has been really great, because it meant that we have this incredible network created through years of working in the fashion industry. We know a lot of brands, so that’s how we landed the Gorman collab, because we’d already been working with them with How Two Live. It also means we have great mentors in our network, like Cathryn Wills who founded Sans Beast was formerly at Mimco - she’s a great mentor of ours.
BYO: This year, you’ve also launched How Two Live: The Podcast. What’s it been like, branching out into something so different?
Stef: We loooove the podcast.
Jess: Yeah, it’s a really fun new project. Up until now, through How Two Live, it’s been a lot about us being in front of the camera, and that’s been really great for us to build a brand. But it’s been really exciting for us to sit down and have our voices be heard and be able to share our values.
Stef: Yeah, and we use the platform to chat to other mentors - because we’ve taken so many amazing learnings through incredible people in the fashion industry and beyond, and now we’re sharing that knowledge with our listeners too. The other really cool thing that we do on the podcast is we give updates about our brand. We’re super transparent and open about our whole brand journey, so each week we’ll give a little update on what’s been happening with the brand, any challenges we’re facing, anything exciting going on - so I think it’s really cool that we’re able to take listeners along on that journey with us and they’re able to learn alongside us.
BYO: And what have you learned through your journey with TWOOBS particularly?
Jess: I think a huge challenge for us in the initial days is that through How Two Live, we kind of saw that era of Instagram where a brand was able to launch simply on influencer outreach and getting people to post. And when we were launching TWOOBS, Instagram had evolved but our marketing strategy hadn’t really evolved with it. So our initial collection launched, and the way we had marketed it was basically by putting the shoes on people on Instagram, and we really didn’t see a lot of sales for that. So we had to redo our whole strategy,
Stef: I think the other thing is that we didn’t go into this as footwear designers, so it’s been a real journey to get the product to be as strong as it is now. And part of how we did that was just listening to customers and being like - hey, do you mind having a Skype call with us, we just wanted to ask about the product and what you love about it. A lot of people said they loved how comfortable they are, so that was like - ok, cool, that’s going to be a focus for us. So it’s kind of like the shoes, and where they are now, have kind of been built by our customers, and by us listening to them. You can guess what people want, or you can just ask them!
BYO: At the moment, TWOOBS is exclusively focused on footwear. Do you see yourselves branching out further into fashion in the future?
Jess: Well, footwear was the first choice for us, because in the initial How Two Live days we wore these huge platforms that we were really known for. And at the time, they really weren’t that easy to get your hands on - definitely not at an affordable price point, super comfortable and also animal-friendly. So we saw a place in the market that we could expand.
Stef: And through our existing brand community, we spent a lot of time talking to them about what they want, and that was really where we saw the gap for footwear brands they could connect with and feel like themselves in.
Jess: And in terms of growth into new categories, definitely, we’re absolutely looking at that. We’ve got a new collaboration launching towards the end of the year that’s a completely new category that we’re super excited about!
Stef: We’d tell you who it’s with but then you’d know what the collab was!
Jess: Sneakers are just the beginning.
BYO: What advice would you give to aspiring influencers and creatives?
Stef: Never feel bad about the things that you don’t know, and just find people who do know them and ask. Mentors have been so huge for us in how we’ve built this brand, and without having people who had been there, done that before us, we’d never have been able to grow it to this point. Also, definitely listen to the How Two Live podcast, because that’ll give you great access to mentors as well! We’ve had our mentors like Cath Wills and all these amazing people sharing their journeys and insights and advice, which has been awesome.
Jess: Starting something on your own is really hard and scary, and particularly as women, we tend to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this, maybe someone else would be better”, and definitely for the two of us, having each other has been an incredible driving force - so definitely we’d always recommend that two in it together is much better than one!
@howtwolive @twoobs // https://linktr.ee/twoobs