Nora Abousteit, along with a staff of eight, oversees BurdaStyle – an online hub of 386,000 home sewers who post pictures of their latest creations, their tips and techniques. The site also sells copyright-free patterns. BurdaStyle declares: “We believe that removing copyrights from our designs will inspire creativity and spawn multiple new designs – and that’s wonderful.”
How it started: “I had been working for a German publishing house in Munich that published Burda Moden, a print magazine with sewing patterns since the 1940s. They wanted to do something online for a new target group and I pitched it. I’m a hobby seamstress and the combination of tech and DIY fashion was right up my alley. We researched and came up with a concept that from our experience of working creatively and sharing knowledge online would fit a growing number of sewing enthusiasts.”
Community: “We grow by about 10,000 members a month. Before we launched we did heavy research in the creative community – particularly sewers, communicating with bloggers, forum managers and designers – to see what they wished for. Over time we developed relationships with people who help us spread the message about BurdaStyle. We developed many partnerships with bloggers, media houses and craft fairs. We exchange content, do contests together and craft lounges. We’ve done a bit of Google AdWords and Facebook advertising – which also proved to be good to reach this audience.”
Sew for all: “We see ourselves giving access to the tools and resources that help you design and make your own clothes or a collection for others. We removed the copyright from our designs to enable people to sew and sell. This makes us part of a growing community that democratizes fashion.”
Beta tag: “I feel we’re still in beta because there are so many changes and new features we’re planning. We monitor the user behavior, talk to people, check out new revenue options and then accommodate all these points. I am not sure if we’ll ever leave beta.
Path explorer: “We use Google Analytics and Chart Beat, the latter one is real time and gives you immediate feedback, which is great. We find that simple patterns that are easily made and customized are the most downloaded patterns.”
The future: “We want to be the most useful DIY fashion platform – enabling people to share, learn and find all the tools and resources they need to make their own clothes. This means we have to make sure we have high-quality content and products and that the community grows. We’re building a notion store to offer supplies that you need for sewing like buttons, zippers, trims etc. We’re also publishing books; this allows us to connect to more traditional sewers who haven’t heard about us yet.”