Having its main roots in the music ‘industry’, indie culture has spread its philosophy and influence in the entrepreneurial world as well. In her book Indie Brands: 30 Independent Brands that Inspire and Tell a Story, Anneloes van Gaalen seeks to shed a light on the mechanisms and features that make a business independent.
The author, who draws her inspiration from the creative world, has interviewed 30 entrepreneurs who decided to make the big leap and lift the challenging and exciting weight of a business on their own shoulders. The characteristics that differentiate an indie brand from other brands are the independent spirit of the creatives, the story behind it and the marketing.
Independence and the opportunity to develop one’s own idea in one’s own terms and conditions is the main and most important value that the featured people behind the brands recognize and evaluate. “Whatever happens, you need to preserve your independence and freedom against all odds and at all costs”, says Etienne de Swardt, the creative mind behind the French perfume brand Etat Liber d’Orange, and most of the times (fortunately) the costs are not of financial nature. Nalden, Amsterdam-based lifestyle blogger and one of the founders of the file transfer platform WeTransfer, highlights the importance of professionalism, while being indie and creative as well, for the financial sustainability and success of a brand: “Being indie doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy commercial success. (…) Our brand is a business, not a hobby. We’re not amateurs here, we’re professionals”. However, as Van Gaalen states, independence from investors might also come with the cost of “sleepless nights”.
Throughout the book, the reader has the chance to read interesting stories behind the birth of each brand. Friendships, love, interests, passions, causes and personal concerns are only few of the catalysts that boosted the creation of an original idea and eventually a product. The creative duo of the Yellow Bird Project, for instance, has managed to fill a gap in the market by creating a T-shirt brand that works as a link between indie music bands, fans and charities. But the most important thing is that they managed to make their dreams come true and offer charitable work while collaborating with their favorite indie artists.
As one might tell while reading Indie Brands, the majority of the brand founders have a background in marketing. Marketing and the ability to sell one’s product is the third most important pylon of independent businesses. Even by looking at the pictures of the book, it is obvious that all the featured products have a very appealing design and are based on original ideas (a coke that keeps me up all night, or white-cheddar flavored popcorn? Yes and yes please!). Indeed, the majority of the founders emphasize the importance of marketing and visual effect. “I hope the thoughtful details shine through and make us different”, says Elea Lutz, founder of the personal care products brand Nostalgia. Apart from the careful pick of raw, organic materials, she also pays great attention to the vintage-inspired and reusable packaging of her products.
Overall, the book manages to give a great impression of how the creative minds work when producing an idea — what kind of inspiration, ideas, concerns and problems they might have when they fight for their right to independent business! What is more, Indie Brands could be a first-step reference in the field of the ‘new artisan’ economic (and urban) trend, as a great amount of the entrepreneurs featured in the book seem to have moved from a service-offering job to a more hands-on project. Anneloes van Gaalen’s book presents fresh ideas and independent brands which are based mainly in the Northern and Central European Area as well as the States, and definitely gives food for thought: could it be that ‘indie brands’ are an upcoming urban trend and to what extent? Is it possible for this entrepreneurial philosophy to expand and develop in other geographical areas and countries, less known for their creative powers? A great chance to ‘listen’ to creative people’s stories and get inspired!
Be sure to check out the book’s web page to stay updated on the events that Anneloes van Gaalen organizes where she presents indie brands, promotes their products and discusses relevant topics.
Indie Brands: 30 Independent Brands that Inspire and Tell a Story
Anneloes van Gaalen
Published by BIS Publishers, Amsterdam
Designed by Studio Kluif and Supernova
Photography by Lianne van de Laar
27×21 cm, hardcover