From customers to community: How a niche brand built loyalty

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Bobby Farahi’s rebelliousness shines through when he talks about Dolls Kill, the alternative fashion brand he co-founded with his wife, former DJ Shoddy Lynn. As CEO, Farahi has succeeded in creating a cult brand with fans so loyal that they camped out for the company’s first store opening five years after establishing its online personality. The secret? Social media, a physical presence and building a community.

Farahi joined Retail Gets Real to share the company’s success story and tips for how to build customer loyalty. You might call the Dolls Kill voice a little “not safe for work,” but Farahi was kind enough to keep the episode G-rated for our listeners. Retail Minded Founder Nicole Reyhle co-hosts this episode from NRF’s Shop.org ecommerce conference.

Bobby Farahi (center) records a podcast episode with co-hosts Nicole Reyhle (right) and Bill Thorne (left).

Bobby Farahi (center) records a podcast episode with co-hosts Nicole Reyhle (right) and Bill Thorne (left).

Starting in a small San Francisco apartment and growing to an award-winning brand, the news of Dolls Kill has spread largely through social media. Instagram and Snapchat are the biggest doorways to the company’s Gen Z and Millennial customer base — the platforms help tell the brand story in an open, authentic way. “Every employee inside Dolls Kill has a voice,” Farahi says — “Warehouse Wednesdays” on Snapchat has made one employee “a star” by sharing supply chain details with the Dolls Kill audience directly from the warehouse.

As for opening a physical store, Farahi first assumed it would be a good customer acquisition tool for strangers to discover the brand. Soon he realized how much appeal a physical location has for existing ecommerce customers: “They really do want to experience a brand that they connect with in a different way,” he says.

Listen to the episode for details on how Dolls Kill have built their cult following, and subscribe to Retail Gets Real to hear about more unconventional retail concepts. Don’t forget to leave a review on your favorite podcast app.

Tony Fontana is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.