Pair ‘fun’ with ‘leading fashion’ and a handful of brands come to mind. Add ‘community-built’ to the mix, and there’s only one – Never Fully Dressed.

Join Verity for today’s exclusive episode, as she sits down with Lucy Aylen (Founder @ NFD). This is your chance to learn from an industry titan, levelling up your career savvy and brand strategy in the process.

From the brand’s first days in her parents attic to sell-out drops, packed events, and a ride-or-die community that spans the globe, Lucy walks us through the moments that transformed Never Fully Dressed’s trajectory. The CEO, entrepreneur & training Doula stops at Spitalfields Market, a first NYC pop-up (you and Kendall Jenner’s memorable t-shirt know the one), and more from the last 15 years along the way.

Tune in to hear Lucy’s Founder story, and her practical advice on…


  • The Power of Long-Term Relationships: Establishing long-term, meaningful connections with customers, employees, and partners is an essential part of NFD’s sustainable brand growth. By taking the ‘spikes’ caused by short-term success out of the business, these enduring relationships are built on trust, foster loyalty, and ensure consistent support. Each is key to navigating market fluctuations, to drive continuous development and innovation.


  • Making Customers Your Influencers: When it comes to community-building, NFD lead the industry for good reason. Creating the fun and empowering culture the brand is known for has fostered belonging and loyalty with superfans. Bonus: it naturally turns loving customers into genuine Brand Advocates, too. Building these deep bonds passes on the power of influence, as each Advocate leverages their authentic voice to promote the brand and enhance its credibility.


  • Amplifying Brand Voice: Encouraging this user-generated content, as well as implementing loyalty programs and rewarded referrals, has created a strong sense of belonging among NFD’s customers. As the brand expands to new markets, Lucy is looking to further amplifying the brand's voice through community projects and charitable support. Everything is done in favor of the heroes behind the brand (aka their customers), and never product-first. 


Expect brand lessons, expert-but-humble entrepreneurial know-how, and the first-hand Advocacy tactics you can only learn from Lucy.

Rate & review Building Brand Advocacy:

Connect with Lucy:


Building Brand Advocacy 071: 


Create Word-of-Mouth Magic Like Never Fully Dressed: Lucy Aylen’s Founder Story

Lucy Aylen 


It's a bit like the old school marketing approach of an Avon party, or like that Tupperware party. You know, word of mouth is the best form of marketing you can have. It tends to be a slower but a much more sustainable rate of growth.


Paul Archer 


Have you ever wondered why some brands grow exponentially, building legions of passionate fans that live and die by their logos and some, well, don't. I do all the time. And that's probably because I'm a massive brand nerd. But I believe there's a secret sauce at the core of every remarkable brand. A formula that sparks the growth of passionate communities, of superfans, building a business and a reputation that will last for years to come. 


In this podcast, we tap into the greatest marketing minds in the world as they share the exact tactics and strategies used to build the world's greatest brands. Dropping actionable insights every brand builder can apply. My name is Paul Archer and I'm a specialist in brand advocacy and word of mouth, having consulted for hundreds of brands on a topic, co-hosting with me is the wonderful Verity herd, expert on the bleeding edge of social media. It's time to learn and build brand advocacy.


Verity Hurd 


Welcome to Building Brand Advocacy. My guest today, I personally feel, needs no introduction, but that's me proper fangirling right now. I'm thrilled to be joined by the founder and CEO of the Instagram famous Never Fully Dressed, Lucy Aylen. Welcome.


Lucy Aylen


Thank you for having me.


Verity Hurd


You're welcome. I'm really excited to talk to you today. Obviously this podcast is all around sort of like building brands love to obviously delve into your story. And like I said, our listeners really love to hear about some of the tactics and how you've grown the brand so successfully today. But let's just start from, I suppose, the beginning in a way. Like what can you tell us about the core ethos of Never Fully Dressed?


Lucy Aylen 


Yeah, even when you're talking there. For me, I never set out with a business plan. I never set out to build a brand that's been really recent for me. So when I say even the tactics, I'm thinking when you're not aware of something, when you're doing it early on, and as well, I started before Instagram. So again, you're not conscious about social strategy, anything like that. It's hard to then recap and still be specific for the listener of giving that advice because we're in a different world now to when I started. I suppose it would have to be because the brand is so me, it would have to be ethos ethos, if that's a word, or values of me as a person and which were present in when I started, which are still present now, which would be work ethic, I think. I'm so lucky we were raised.


I'm one of five just with a really good work ethic. So that was there. Similar to the values. Now, someone asked me the other day what I look for when I'm hiring. So all of those things. So work ethic, honesty, and I think that's so key to this conversation as well. And humour someone that of enjoying, so relevant to building a business, enjoying the process and being able to laugh and enjoy it otherwise, that used to be a bit of a fear of mine, of being bored or remaining interested in the journey. So I think as long as you've got that outset, from the beginning, then it's just quite interesting to see where the journey goes.


Verity Hurd


Yeah, it's interesting. It just made me think then, like, what you said around didn't really have a strategy. And obviously you were kind of born before the days of Instagram and social media, and I've been reading and seeing a lot of posts and articles recently around, not around. They were sort of saying, brand love is dying, but actually it's more around the fact that brands are now having to sort of like, rip up the social media rulebooks, because sort of, like, these algorithms come out, these changes happen every single day. And then brands are going, I need to do that now. I need to do this now. I need to do that. And actually, brands are now starting to just become quite repetitive and, like, we're seeing the same thing over and over.


So for a brand like yourself, that hasn't really got that rulebook, like…


Lucy Aylen


You said, so many points there. Please, I'm trying not to interrupt. This is a new thing for me. So I'm like, remember that, remember that. Remember that.


Verity Hurd


Yeah, you can interrupt me at any point.


Lucy Aylen


Sorry, I'll do that next time, because now I've got nothing to say as a first. So social was. Yeah. Such a new thing thrown on you. So there was no rule book. So I'm trying to think of actually what you said now.


Verity Hurd


I said, brand love is almost dying. Yeah.


Lucy Aylen 


I think it's different in different industries and then that goes in trends with different industries. So I know that beauty, for example, like years ago, everyone was moaning that there was no loyalty there, because I think it depends as well what audience you're targeting, like, what generation, really, what age, what consumer behavior is, which is different on every social platform, say Facebook for us is such a community, we've got such a loyal. We have NFD community groups in there and they really promote each other, they're really supportive. 


Whereas TikTok, I know it's. It's breeding a new attention span within a whole, not even just a generation, because that's broadening now. So I think you need to be specific how you're using each channel. Yeah, but yet, I know you said about copy, and I think even more reason to then be true to your; what you're doing.


And I think, I know it's tough, especially if you say, if you're not busy and you're going for a phase and you're like, oh, we need to generate turnover or whatever, like with staying true, because that might be a long process, but ultimately that truth will work for you. I was on a. It was in the US, I was a female entrepreneur thing for a big city business and the CEO of that bank, massive, um, global guy. So if you do something well enough, for long enough, you'll succeed. And I think that's. It's so black and white and it's so true, but yet we're in such an immediate society that no one wants to do anything that you're not seeing a return for. For two years. 


We have staff now and they want a promotion after six months, or you, you can't give them something and they think that there's no where that development is like, and it's really a hard thing to train yet. If that is the truth of a new, I'm saying, generation, then it's a bit of a. Not a chicken and the eggplant. Do I then start serving a new mindset of a new employer, or do I really think that. Actually, no, I think resilience is key to life and the human race and to strengthen that back, through which I think society might be on a bit of a turn. 


I think a lot of people now are more active in, I suppose, parents as well, in the use of smartphones within children and that attention span. And I actually think there's going to be intervention and a turn, which is amazing for that. I always say, like, resilience is such a dying thing.


We've got someone in our team who's talking on a panel today, she was so nervous, but, like, and we were saying in our trade meeting yesterday, you can't not do that thing because you're nervous. Now, I know the word anxiety is, is used to everything. Every feeling that you remotely have is anxiety. And if doing, if, if something makes you feel anxious. The, the idea of to how to not feel that is just not doing the thing, which is mental. So you're just going to keep not doing anything until we're hermits, isolated. So you have to do that. 


But now we're in… I do think it's, maybe it's a trend over the last couple of years and hopefully people are navigating through that now. But you have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. And I say people use that word now, but actually it's just nerves or it's stress or it's something else that articulate in a different way. And learn to not. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Amazing. Learn to not be scared of failure either. 


If you're nervous about something or something's making you anxious because of fear, fear is the most crippling feeling that you can have. It makes you not go for anything and you'll never get anywhere. I've gone on a real tangent now, haven't I? Sorry. 


So, yeah, it makes a lot of copying, I suppose, these algorithms and the no brand loyalty there. But I think that will only come if you're not the founder or the team or the inner people that are creating the brand, maintaining that brand, are not honest and all on the same page, because you can't deny that that is true if it is there. And then I think the loyalty will come. But again, you need to work out what success is for that brand. Because if it is turnover and it's not brand loyalty, if it is turnover, then you need the loyalty, but you have a different approach to that.


But if it's truth, then that small little bit of growth actually is more sustainable and it grows truer. It just might be a longer process which like I've just discussed, some people aren't into a longer path to get there.


Verity Hurd


The longer term strategy, I mean, that's, we, you know, we talk about that a lot on this podcast and you said so many interesting things there. And I think anxiety and I mean, people sort of call it impostor syndrome, don't they? And it's like. But for me, like, if I don't have that, if I don't feel that, then I don't think I'm growing as a person. And I really try and consciously try and push myself into the, the growth zone. 


And I think with brands looping back around to what we were saying around this sort of like this rulebook where it's becoming a bit boring and just, I've seen that. Oh, so so, so and so doing that, and now they're doing it. 


And the trends that, especially on TikTok, like the brands, I mean, you can see it from how brands have grown in the past, if you think about it, like Patagonia and Glossier and Lululemon, like, they're the brands that did something different back then, same as yourself and Never Fully Dressed. They're the brands that stand out and now stand out in this era because that's how everyone wants to grow their brand now.


But actually, because they've kind of gone down that short term hack way, it's even harder for them to kind of build that integrity. And the truth that you've been talking about.


Lucy Aylen


I do think there's a shift because of all the changes with meta and that TikTok spike of stuff, even that we almost just seeing that trend come over into how we buy and our merchandise in, like we used to sell quite an even amount across our buy for that month, but then you were seeing big spikes and it's led by that. So I do think, I know for us, we've been working on for a couple of years of taking all of those spikes out of the business even we've stopped really doing pop ups because they're spiky even of how we use our resource, do you know what I mean? So longer term projects, longer term relationships. And I said about influencers, but we don't work with people on one offs like any who are now influencers, who weren't a thing, obviously, when we started as a, sorry, that wasn't a job. They tend to have anyone we do work with tend to. They started as a customer, do you mean. So it's still a long relationship and now they happen to do that as a job. Great. Or there is a creative that we love how they create and okay, let's work together on a deeper way, even how we structure our staff, even how we use our digital marketing spend really trying to take these spikes out of the business.


So I suppose I think we're on a bit of a turn because people have had to be because of the changes in meta, but I think it will make people work harder with a longer term approach.


Verity Hurd 


Let's go back to the journey a little bit before we kind of come into today. So for people that don't know, obviously you've gone from your parents attic to market stalls to boutiques, what have been some of the key milestones on that journey that has gotten you here today?


Lucy Aylen 


So I started in my mom's attic. I was doing the markets, I think. Then I. She was one day was like, Luc, you need to move out. I think she had a day off once, and there were a couple of school mums. I've got younger sisters and they were just doing local jobs, like, for me, but all had a key to my mum's house and I think she had a day off and people have all let themselves in. Like, I'm morning, and she's like, I mean, I just need a bit of space. They're lovely and they still work with me now, so they're great women, but.


And I think we'd like threadbare the stairs. I mean, deliveries up and down, the relaxed time. And we got a little store. I never wanted a shop, but for me, if the front of the shop paid for, like, we used to do all of our fulfillment, and that was our office as well. And that was great, but I suppose a sense of responsibility. So that was the first time I had that. Whereas until then, especially with, you could close shop tomorrow. Yeah, whatever stock you're sitting on, fine.


But there's no real commitment. So I think that made me see things in a different light. Like, you have to pay rent and stuff. That was a big thing, Instagram, I suppose the start of that was a big thing for us and how we. Again, it was very organic. You weren't aware of anything but how we used our voice there, I suppose. 


Covid, before COVID our first pop up in New York was really key for us, I think, at that time. Sometimes when things align, like, Kendall Jenner wore our boob t shirt, which we sell charity, and she was quite vocal about her mental health at that time.


So sometimes timing is just good. We got some really good press off of that, and then that kind of sparked, I think, that us growth for us as well then. Covid. Covid was quite a turning point for us, I think, where we're so community focused, that held us in quite good stead. I think a massive thing was, I was never on Instagram. Like, I was never on our socials before. And for the first time, I had to be like, my husband's quite handsy. He made a set and I could start shooting things and get it shot so we could sell it and be that voice on there.


And it was a bit of a wake up call of how that resonated or what people liked. I remember doing, like, my first interview. That was strange, considering I used to want to be an actress. Like, obviously, clearly, that's why I failed being actress, I couldn't even open the door or answer the phone to anyone. I wouldn't do any of that. So Covid was a good, and you felt quite safe. It was insular, but there was quite an honesty around social and I think kind of brings truth to what we were saying because there was an honesty there. You're in a safe space.


It allowed for creativity because there wasn't a thing of copying someone or trying to pretend you're something else on Instagram, actually, it was really real and become freer in that way. I think I'm really lucky. I've got a big family, so I'm one of five. And I think that security and that safety allows for you to go and take risk, not even monetary, but you just, you have a security. So that's something that I've learned and I'm trying to build now within our team and in our culture as a business. 


If everyone feels safe, if you work with me, you're then not nervous if you make a mistake or you're not nervous if we have a difficult conversation. I say you're not performing because, you know, your job's not on the line or I still want to support the growth or for how you can change that, because it just comes with a sense of family, a sense of community, which is everything that we, the Instagram or social, if this conversation is. Is a build out of that.


Like, your customer feels safe in your hand, you're. You're true. You want them to, even if you're on a shop floor, you want them to get addressed that they feel amazing in, and they go and have a good time. There's no point in me in a quick pound note anywhere or a lie or anything.


Verity Hurd


Yeah, well, employees are your Advocates as well, right? It's not just your customers. And I think a lot of brands, kind of every brand has got a network of opportunities and a network of Advocates that are going to be going out there. And, you know, you don't. I talk about Never Fully Dressed all the time like you like, thank you. But it'll be like, I'll share something through a DM or it'll be like, I'll show my mom something when I'm having coffee or something like that, and it's in those private spaces. 


And I think brands just forget how many different pools they've got of these fans that are doing it and never be aware. And I think even employees can sometimes get forgot about as well. So that's really interesting what you're saying around building that culture because even when they're not at work, they'll want to go and Advocate for someone to be the best.


Lucy Aylen 


I love sitting on an external meeting and someone works somewhere and they're so passionate and proud of where they work and that I think, wow, I'd like you on my team. I mean, I think that is such a good quality to have within a workplace. And it's everything I'm talking about now. I'm still on my own journey with all of that and learning as well. 


Like I said, I never set out to be a CEO. I never identified as an entrepreneur, probably till two years ago. There are things that I'm learning and now we're really early, but just started the process of becoming B Corp and I'm like, even that they're questions that, oh, wow, that's opened my eyes to something we don't do well. Rather, I'm not nervous about discovering that because again, I know that I'm honest in my approach to stuff, but now, oh, wow, what can we do better? That's the most interesting thing for me.


Like I said, I was nervous about being bored or what. I've been doing it a long time. Do you mean like what success looks like or what that job, what the fulfillment is for me and now of how I can either use a skill set or teach or, I don't know, harvest a culture is interesting for me at the minute. I think people are amazing and I think I say I'm studying at the minute to be like a doula and a birth coach kind of. I think women are amazing and so many don't know that or realize that. And then that brings out either a nervous nervousness inside of them or you're unsure, and then that brings out not good in anyone. Like I said, whether it's fear or, you know, like if someone's, if I'm nervous that I've seen you in a coffee shop, so I'd, I'd almost ignore you. And then you think I'm really rude, but I was just really nervous.


So I think that safety just brings out you're the best in some way.


Verity Hurd


It's fascinating. I wish this podcast was about childbirth right now because I'd love to dive into that.


Lucy Aylen 


Sorry. I just find it fascinating. And when I'm learning, I'm like, I'm either going to end up qualified or pregnant because I just, I'm like, how can I not put all of this into practice? I just, I just love it. I think it's so amazing. 


And there's studies, the stuff I'm reading now on even just our society's mindset about pregnancy and women and then how that affects your childbirth and that journey actually affects the mentality or how the birthing person is treated in that affects a whole society is so interested and. Yeah, really affects us as a society massively.


Verity Hurd


Yeah, we'll talk about it.


Lucy Aylen




Verity Hurd


Next year I did hypnobirthing and it really opened my eyes.


Lucy Aylen


That's amazing. I did it. But even on studying it now. Oh, my gosh. Like, yes, amazing.


Verity Hurd


Okay, let's. So those milestones, what were some of the most challenging aspects through all of that.


Lucy Aylen


I think all those things that now I'm saying I'm in that process of learning, but actually, when I haven't had those or the awareness or staffing, I don't find that a challenge now because I think I'm much more open to either difficult situations or learning or that process. But I think I wasn't that. And I haven't worked for any. I was a waitress, do you know what I mean? But I haven't come through. I haven't really been a true employee on a career path as a waitress. So I think I wasn't at that stage. And I think we came out of COVID a different sized business to what we went in. So.


And I think that whole employment sector just changed so much in that time. All the powers in the employees hand flexi working was a new, I mean, my parents had businesses in the eighties, like, you came to work, you got paid. If you didn't come in, you didn't get paid. Like, it was very. So that working through that was not fun for me at times. 


And I say it's so personal, especially when you own the business and someone hasn't been mentored, right. Either by a manager or by yourself directly. And if you've not managed that manager to do that, like, it's personal, you're dealing with people's lives.


I think that's been tough. And a realization probably that not everyone's that nice or do you know what I mean? And actually, you're not going to be everything for someone. And social media, as amazing it is as it is that we're saying as well, equally, things can spiral. Someone has an opinion of you, which might not be just, but that person can be very vocal and social. Do you then get into saying, oh, hey, actually, this is where I'm coming from. I've learned sometimes that's good and sometimes that's not good. To do. Sometimes it's good to keep quiet.


So all of those lessons, I found that tough.


Paul Archer


Hey, it's me again. This podcast is sponsored by Duel, which is my company actually. Duel is the leading brand advocacy platform used by the top retail consumer brands, including Unilever, Charlotte Tilbury, Elemis Loop, and about 50 more to manage, measure and scale their advocacy member, affiliate, creator and brand ambassador operations. The platform offers unparalleled scale for complex brands. By automating nine out of ten of the standard advocacy management activities and allowing them to focus on arming their Advocates. With the right tools to tell the brand story and drive social commerce, they can grow faster for less. We only work with 15% or so of the brands we speak to, but we try and add value in many other ways, this podcast being one of them. So if you are a brand that interested in this, maybe a large consumer retail brand, ideally you're doing 20 $30 million as a minimum and you're pretty advanced on social and you need to know what the next stage is, then please get in touch.


Email me at, that is Paul at duel dot t, E, C, H or Google Duel dot tech.


Lucy Aylen


Anything business wise, I've found okay to get through not doing well or if your cash pot's not great. Those things I find working and practical to work through. It's more that HR, when anything becomes personal, that's hard because it's your name that is that. Yeah, that's been tougher. Part of the journey, I think.


Verity Hurd


And you mentioned before around, I mean, you are the face of the brand now by accident. And it's so funny you say that because when we see you on socials and whether that's through your organic platforms or whether you hit by an ad or something like that, and it's just so natural and you just have it and you just hearing people when we talk about you and being the face of the brand and like, oh my God, she can style it in 25 different ways. How does she do it? 


And obviously it's your brand, I get that. But I suppose with it being more of an accidental thing of being the face of the brand, how do you find the balance between, I suppose, Never Fully Dressed in your own personal brand or do you even like, how does that work?


Lucy Aylen


I suppose, again, where I wasn't conscious of what brand was only really since COVID thinking, okay, this is who we are, this is what our voice is. And as well, me as a personal brand has been even much more recent. I mean, I think it got a little bit messy for me, obviously, during COVID when eCommerce consumer businesses went crazy and you've got everyone in your ear, this is what your business is worth. This is what you can say, because we've never had investment, so I own it. 


But for the first time, I'm like, oh, actually. And in some of those conversations, they were nervous that I was then the face of the brand, because if I was to go or someone was to acquire the bit, like. And that was confusing for me because equally, I knew of how I resonate, what I enjoy, but then trying to maybe build something that wasn't our truth and then didn't work, I was doing that for what someone else thought of it. So it comes back to that truth piece.


I mean, actually, I enjoy this part and learning to enjoy a process of something and this is where I am right now in how I deliver something or how I connect with people. I'm lucky. I mean, I was brought up on a shop floor, like, in the markets in London. 


My mum could still sell you two left feet. She's great and it's just natural and we enjoy it. Like, my mum genuinely thinks she's doing you a favor letting you buy that dress in the shop. She loves it and she knows you're just gonna have the best time in that and you're gonna go out and everyone will be like, you look amazing. And she's from a world where there's no manifestation.


She doesn't talk like that. That's what she's doing, in essence. Or so I think that's just really genuine and I've always been creative, so making something into nothing. I remember my mum had a jewelry supply, this couple, and they gave me this sari fabric that I made into a prom dress. Don't mean everyone's going to the expensive shop for pound 300. I'm thinking, what do I mean? My mom used to laugh at me. I'd buy something new and go home and cut it straight away. And she's like, you've just bought that? I'm like, oh, but this is how I want it to be.


I'm happy buying that for now. I want, like. So I suppose it's just I'm creative and that's really natural and I'm passionate about. Like I said, I think women are amazing. So if my delivery can help you realise that or make it accessible, I hate any form of elitistness, so actually, if you've got someone, I just find it baffling how no fashion week show. Anyone smiles like you're wearing amazing clothes, you're being like, express that or it's creative. This should be fun. What an absolute privilege to work in fashion and do this as a job.


Like, to be here. So that baffles me. So if we can bridge that gap and make things accessible for. No. Like, now going into more inclusive sizing. It's mad to see women in tears in our New York store that can have never been able to go shopping with their mum on their birthday. Like, it's just not been a thing. So I suppose I take that for granted.


I suppose my only experience of that is if you go in and you don't want to ask how much something is. Like, all of that just takes any fun out of anything. So if that's what, we're not here for a good time, not a long time, if that's the one thing that you can do, just come and let's enjoy what we're doing. So having a normal conversation, do you mean. And doing that through social. And being able to do that with that many people is a privilege.


Verity Hurd 


I think it's a skill as well. Like, to get that fun element across, like through. Through the screens as such. You can see it and you can feel it. And just so simply in how you kind of put pieces together and you do just make it look fun.


Lucy Aylen


It's great about giving people. I was literally just talking to someone. Now he's got a business, but that whole thing of give someone a fish they eat for a day, give someone a fishing rock like that. Give you the tools. Because everyone body's different, everyone's style is different. You might buy that dress today, but you want to wear it in five years, in a five years in a different way. So give someone the tools and actually give him a bit.


Like the thing with staff. I mean, if you tell someone an answer, it's much less empowering than if you teach them how to work that out and then they can work everything out. So it's the same with clothing.


Like I say, this is the look and you've got to buy that mannequin head to toe. Not, yeah, I can look nice on that one night, but actually giving, handing that creativity back or, yeah, that fun back to the consumer is much more interesting and empowering, which is what NFD stands for. Like, it's that empowerment piece and making people feel as amazing as they already are. So if that dress makes you realize that, then that's our job.


Verity Hurd 


Yeah, I was gonna say that's definitely the word empowerment. We've kind of touched on it already very briefly, but I wanted to delve into the, the Never Fully Dressed community. And I think you guys were the ogs when it came to saying the customers are our influencers and we stand by that through this podcast. We're very passionate about that ourselves. Making your customers the Advocates and things like that. 


Was there a strategy around that positioning?


Lucy Aylen


Not really. I suppose it's conscious when we come up as that. I think it's important to, to identify that we came to social before the word influencer was in the dictionary. I think if someone came into business and was starting a brand seven years ago, it would have been a completely different story. So when I first started on Instagram, you'd have Matilda Gaduf or Joseph Feenix. They would just message being like, oh, I like that top, like, I'll buy it. Or, or if you were kind enough to give something for free, let alone pay someone. That just wasn't even a concept.


So that was really natural. And then it grew, which probably then held me not in good stead when that influencer came about and you're suddenly seeing fees of stuff and I'm like, what? This is. This is mental. And maybe as it just started they had more credibility, then it went out and then it was like the birth of the micro influencer and it's still going in trends of stuff. Yeah. So probably just a bit tight and was like, I'm not paying these people. I know what I could do with three grand. Do you mean? I could shoot and create and just have more fun with that and budget and pay some.


But equally you've still got to have a commercial head on and you know, if someone. But now you've got all tracking links and stuff so you can see actually if someone does really sell for you, then yeah, there's got to be an ROI in everything. But I think just making sure it comes from a genuine place that that person genuinely likes the brand. I think when you do, I say those spiky thing, activity or someone does stuff and they're not fussed about being there. But we've moved away even. We're opening. We've opened in LA.


Verity Hurd 




Lucy Aylen 


Thank you. But I'm out there next weekend for like the main opening. That was a bit of a soft launch and we're doing a party. But I was really adamant on just having that as a customer party. I prefer those events so much more like we did something with Harvey Nix in Manchester and the customer piece is they want to be there wherever influencing now is a job. People are paid, time is money. So for those people to come, it's not as genuine, I think. And it's a bit like the old school marketing approach of an Avon party or like a Tupperware party.


You know, word of mouth is the best form of marketing you can have. It will be slower, but you just need to take that on the chin. Obviously not if something's actually without. Things can go viral, but it tends to be a slower but a much more sustainable rate of growth.


Verity Hurd 


I mean, I think, you know, we're seeing articles now where they're actually advising us not to go viral. They're advising brands not to do that.


Lucy Aylen 


It's dangerous, you know, I forget what it was. Someone who sold something on a Love island and you sell out in a day, then you repeat. But actually they all might get returned. And then you invest in inventory or you. And it's not. It's not sustainable. No, it's. You don't see all of that aftercare, all of those costs, actually.


So when your profit, if that's not there, then they do. The top turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, kind of thing. So again, working out, but I think even investors, and if you're selling your business now, people want profitability. I'm lucky again. My sister's in that world, so something in the air, but there used to be a time where people just chased turnover and that was worth something to some people. But I think since COVID and war and the economy now everyone just wants profitability. So there's no point in chasing that. You have to make sure.


Which, again, having no investment has made us have a really strong discipline of that. Because I used to have that mindset. It's out of my back pocket, do you know what I mean? So it has to be profitable.


Verity Hurd 


And I suppose the community piece, have you had any sort of specific tactics to make your customers more? I mean, obviously the product and the way that you are. You mentioned your Facebook groups and the community there. What are some of the Facebook group.


Lucy Aylen 


We have say, like we're doing. We do Spitalfields still. So, like, we're our first time. We still do the market. Yeah, last Sunday of every month, but. And there we sell second hand, Never Fully Dressed or pre loved. So that it's just engagement, like engaging with the community. The pre loved is a great scheme because you can sell to each other as well online now.


So that encourages engagement or communication between the customers, community on Facebook, encouraging UGC and how we use that and share that we personally, we have no bots within our customer service team. Like, we reply to every comment, every DM, every tag personally. So someone in the businesses has seen that we are just about to introduce refer a friend. So. Which I think again is so powerful. 


We have an amazing loyalty program anyway, so that should be spoke about within small friendship groups and stuff as well. But I think refer a friend is more active in encouraging that. There's actually a monetary reward for all of those referrals.


So you can do it on a personable way, monetary. You can have different tactics within each target, but everything you want to achieve out of that loyalty, I say we're doing a swap shop, we're doing a next week, we're doing a yoga event. It's free or you have to pay the administrative German a few pounds, but like it's a free event. Stuff like that actually reward, like give back to the community. Even if it's in time, if it's in a freebie or whatever, it. It can be all amalgamation of all of those things. Has to feel genuine and for them to be part of that journey. 


So a lot of people, again, maybe it's a trend, but do that BTS or bring you on that journey with them, but people are much more invested in it.


And I'm always amazed to see, like, I feel like people are really supportive of me personally. Like, love seeing you do. I'll get a call out of the blue just being like, I make like, you're doing amazing. I'm like, oh, that's so nice. That's a lot to do that for someone. I think people really feel on that journey with you.


Verity Hurd 


Yeah. 100%. It's about bringing them in, isn't it? And making them feel part of the journey


Lucy Aylen 


They are. I think even your word in there, it's not about making them feel like they are part of that. I've got customers now who used to shop with me at Spitterfields. They are the journey. And like, if you didn't have them because pretty obvious, like, there's no business, so they are who you're making product for.


Verity Hurd 


Do you have you like, how far in advance do you kind of like plan out or think about. We've spoken before about how this era of social commerce just changes so quickly and kind of like the space that we're in. It's quite scary to think about, especially with the platforms and the commerce side of it and where's it going. And obviously AI is a big thing.


Lucy Aylen


I'm showing my age here. That's where you employ really well, but it is what I mean, like know your strengths and know your weaknesses.


Verity Hurd 


I mean, do you sort of like think about sort of like five years time when it comes to, I suppose as you guys scale and keep scaling and keeping those connections so close to your heart and, you know, kind of keeping those conversations alive, like, and this space changes all of that quite quickly.


Lucy Aylen 


I think they're all the smaller specifics that plug into that though. So I know as a business where we want to be, I know personally where I want to be in five years and I'm quiet hippie in that, wherever that go. But like, you know what? And then everything works down from that. But the things that you're talking about are then either tactics or ways of getting there. 


Do you know what I mean? So it's a bit like a labyrinth. Like you can take all different routes. So yeah, of course you've got to be really agile and I say you have a young team who are in that world and that can advise and, and be really agile equally. Like we might just have a shipment that doesn't land or something comes in and it's all soaking wet.


But that was on the marketing plan. Next week we had all activity. Activity. There was a live book. Okay, that's where you need to be agile and change all of that equally. If meta bring in a new rule of something and you can't do x, y, z in what? Fine. That's, I find that all quite minor. You just need a good agile team in a physical sense.


But the, the goal remains constant, so nothing wavers from that. And all the other stuff is.


Verity Hurd 


Yeah, makes sense.


Lucy Aylen




Verity Hurd 


Easy to manoeuvre, maybe a bit controversial. Not controversial, but what are you seeing brands doing now that they shouldn't be doing?


Lucy Aylen 


We've touched on the copying bit, but I think maybe that's natural. That's natural. I had an acting teacher and say, plagiarism. God gave you eyes to plagiarize and you can't. And sometimes, you know, like I might see something and then have a conversation, be like, I've got this amazing idea. Because that was subliminal.


Verity Hurd 


Yeah, yeah.


Lucy Aylen


You're like, yeah, no, I just said that. I'm like, oh, I didn't. So I get that you're influenced and we still are really influenced by the amazing staff, but I think to how to maybe not do that so much either unfollow if it's social people that you know you're heavily influenced by or mix up where you get inspiration from. So if it is just Instagram, actually turn that off. Just put it on your desktop for a month, don't put it on your phone and book a few galleries, or go on a different trip or read a different book. And actually it might make you learn about something else. 


Oh, sorry. I'm really, I use my hand a lot, so I think if you find yourself being influenced too much and then things are merging into one, you suddenly then look like this other brand.


Lucy Aylen


Stop following them, take them off your radar, because the algorithm will soon take them out as well. I mean, and it will engage you into another world. A trend I've seen recently, which I find strange, is that I don't know if they're trying to sell you something. I don't know what they are, but, like, everyone's trying to sell you something, but like a bragging of, oh, my gosh, we did this drop and we took 2 million pound in an hour. Maybe I'm really british, or I'm like.


Verity Hurd 


Oh, my God, is this on TikTok?


Lucy Aylen 


I'm too old for TikTok on Instagram still. So probably two weeks later than you saw it on TikTok. But I find that really strange. And as a consumer, if I saw someone do that, that would, like, a founder doing that, that would really put me off.


Verity Hurd




Lucy Aylen


So maybe it works for them and good luck to it, but I wouldn't do that.


Verity Hurd




Lucy Aylen


I feel like that's a trend lately.


Verity Hurd 




Lucy Aylen


Well, this is how, like, it's hard, because I still think to maintain the truth, but where you get that balance of, like, if a founder is really successful, maybe it's me, and maybe it's a British. Like, I was raised Catholic as well. You're meant to be self deprecated and you're, like, all of it. But I don't want to see you on your yacht. 


If you're really rich, like, when you've got, you know, you're, if you're selling rolexes, maybe that's fine. Maybe that's where your consumer is, what they are influenced by and what they would aspire, and then they buy into you. But know your customer, and then they've bought into you already. So don't if your not identities changed.


But I mean, if you've gone on a journey, remember the customer has invested in what you were before. So I think that needs to still be present maintained.


Verity Hurd 


I think it's just the consumer behaviors have completely changed as well. And I think that's why, you know, we're not sucked into like the mega influencers and the celebs anymore. Like, we do want to just hear from our mates and, you know, Sally, who's got a thousand followers, you know, that, you know, that you trust, because she's just like you and me. Like, that's.


Lucy Aylen 


I don't even my. I'm nobody, but, like, on Instagram, I've only got 10,000 followers. For God’s sake. I've just started doing Instagram personally, Jamie. But my engagement from a and even NFD has a big engagement compared to brands I know influencers or people, that engagement rate is much higher. NFDs is high, but me personally, so much higher. People just want the person, which I think that's what NFD does. Well, it's a bit of a mix.


It's not brand, it's not person, it's you. You are in that community. So it's a. Suppose you feel like you're following a person 100%.


Verity Hurd 




Lucy Aylen


You're part of that. So it's like a friendship group. So maybe that's different. But yeah, it's trying to get the engagement of a direct person account. If we're talking social on a wider scale.


Verity Hurd


What would be your advice for brands that, you know, that don't have the founder led Persona, but they want to kind of break out into. They kind of want to put a face behind the brand. Like, what would be your advice for brands? Kind of starting out on that journey?


Lucy Aylen


But I think it's being true about what they are. So if they don't have a face, they've got a group of people. I don't know what it is then. Is it a business that's got a few founders, a few people, narrow the face, or someone really might not want to be, but then they've got a few faces, or actually they're selling product to people. 


So are the people the faces? Because you have to, I suppose with AI now and not real faces, it doesn't get you here, which is what you need. I mean, for any marketing to work has to be. It's an emotional connection. I think you only get that with people.


Do you know what I mean? So, you know, like, if we did this on Zoom, it'd be so much less engaging than us sitting here. So you have to identify what connects or you're really clever. I'm just thinking out loud here, like, oh, you're really clever. And get the thing to make them connect with their community. If I'm trying to sell something, how that could be, say you're a mum, and it's something that helps you connect with your kids. So the creative is still around that connection. Yeah. That person might not exist within that current business, but there's a person buying the product and how it makes.


You've got to remember as well what you're selling is always… everyone is the hero of their own story. What you're selling needs to add to that. The thing that you're selling is not the hero of anyone's story. So you've got to be clever in how that, how you're selling that. It's got to add to this person already. So you've got to make that thing help that person realize those connections or whatever it is, because there's got to be a connection there. Yeah, it might be that person. The founder.


Verity Hurd


Love it. And lastly, Lucy, what's next for Never Fully Dressed?


Lucy Aylen


Really enjoying us. I feel like we're in a really good place. I'm really enjoying it. So I think that naturally then flows into the business. Really bringing up. I say I was looking for a coo at one point and actually my direction, a bit of a mentor or something. Actually identifying all of those qualities that would make up a CEO that I've already got in the team. So really building up the team, it's more fun.


I say creative, like giving them the tool actually has a bit of freedom. For me, it's quite liberating because it's not just me, do you know what I mean? Although I'm the face that there is that whole team. So that's in a structural point. We've just opened LA. I think we'll open Miami by the end of the year.


Verity Hurd 


Oh, wow.


Lucy Aylen


And then we can have a break. But I think the US just building that community that we have here, building that in a physical sense there, and Miami is so colourful and just fun. I think that that energy there is great for us. We're working in the US is quite a key piece for us in the business. So just launching with a few partners. They've just launched with newly, like a big rental company in the US. So that's the first time we've done rental and it's in quite a big way with them in the US. Pre loved is really fun.


So we're doing a swap shop in east London at the end of the summer. So again, just really encouraging. That's always been me. I used to be taking the pee out of for shopping secondhand and amazingly, it's cool now. So just really encouraging what part we play in circular fashion and just trying to do a little bit better today than we did yesterday.


Verity Hurd


Yeah, we'll have you on next year because I'd love to hear around taking the community here and you sort of like putting that in place in the US as well, because I know so many brands that are trying to do that as well.


Lucy Aylen


Yeah. It's been quite organic for us, which I think I feel safe in that journey. Yeah. And enjoying it and building up now for us, like, okay, the business has got to run, otherwise you can't think of more romantic ideas. But I think that's sweet. So, yeah, looking at how we use our voice, like, what other community project? I know we've always done a lot of charity stuff and who we support, but how we can maybe amplify that now, I think we're at that kind of stage of strategy.


Verity Hurd


Yeah. Love it. Thank you. This has been awesome. Thank you so much.


Lucy Aylen


Thank you very much.


Verity Hurd


And if anyone wanted to connect with you, where's the best place to find you?


Lucy Aylen


I'm on Instagram, so @NeverFullyDressed or I'm @LucyAylen7. You'll find me on the NFD bio. Instagram's probably best on DM.


Verity Hurd


Amazing. Thank you so much.


Lucy Aylen


Thank you. Thank you for having me.


Paul Archer


That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about Building Brand Advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our brand building cookbook, then make sure to search for Building Brand Advocacy in Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or anywhere else that podcasts are fine. And make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. 


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