Launching a brand is no easy feat. But it’s made quite a bit harder when faced with a global pandemic and while already operating in the public eye.
Influencer and fashion blogger Arielle Charnas, the founder and creative director of the Something Navy brand and store, confronted that set of conditions head on while opening her brick and mortar storefront along with the Something Navy brand, which launched in July.
It all began 11 years ago when Charnas started Something Navy, a blog, as a hobby in 2009 while enduring a break up. Eventually, it evolved into a full time career. Now, she has 1.3 million followers on her personal Instagram account with the Something Navy account clocking an additional 293,000 followers.
“I fell in love with putting looks together, documenting, styling and communicating with people from all over the world about fashion and style,” Charnas says.
After three years, she was able to quit her day job and pursue her passion full time.
“I started off with partnerships, which eventually required that I grow my team, followed by collaborations and eventually launching a Something Navy clothing line within Nordstrom,” she says.
Something Navy’s origins are in the blog world, through which Charnas built a community which, in turn, encouraged her to expand Something Navy into the fashion, lifestyle and media brand it has become.
“In 2019, I decided it was time to take the leap and bring Something Navy all in house and launch it on my own,” Charnas says, noting she had always imagined having a brand. “When the time came, I knew I had to move forward with the opportunity to create collections that celebrate style and the ‘Something Navy girl.’”
The “Something Navy girl” prioritizes both style and functionality as pillars of her wardrobe, according to Charnas. “She wants to wear fun, trendy clothing, without it being intimidating or exclusive,” she explains, adding that — for the most part — that kind of girl makes up the brand’s client base.
She and her team put community feedback to use while shaping Something Navy. “Something Navy is my aesthetic and my style, but I’m designing pieces for the Something Navy community,” Charnas adds.
Something Navy focuses on celebrating personal style featuring “classic and elegant pieces” that will help build the wearer’s confidence in their every day lives.
Launching a brand during a pandemic presented challenges, Charnas says, but with the help of her team, she was able to work through those that presented themselves and the brand launched in July.
At the beginning of the pandemic, her team made the “difficult decision” to delay the brand’s launch, which was initially scheduled for March.
While Charnas and her colleagues had been excited about taking the next step, they ultimately came to the decision that it was more important to launch the right way to ensure the experience was successful and safe.
“As a brand, we took a step back to reflect at what was going on in the world – between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement – to make sure that not only were we keeping our team members and community healthy and safe, but we were taking action and prioritizing diversity and inclusion,” Charnas says.
The call they made to hold off was the right one.
Since the brand’s July launch, they’ve completed more than $12.5 million in sales and Something Navy has been projected to grow by 300 times in 2021.
“The overall business grew over 300% in 2020,” Charnas says.
One of the factors contributing to the company’s growth include different social marketing methods including their “See Now, Shop Now” tactic which drove 34,000 shoppers to the brand’s site in the first hour post-launch.
They also created a “VIP” customer community granting access to those who sign up to new products on the site 20 minutes prior to those items’ official drop, among other promotions.
“The power of the Something Navy online community has been incredible,” Charnas says. “After 11 years of forming relationships with followers and fostering this community it’s been amazing to actually learn from everyone, take in advice, create collections with that input in mind, and make clothing that we know the community actually wants.”
In 2020, Charnas experienced additional pandemic-related challenges outside of the brand’s launch — such as public criticism Charnas faced as a result of her actions during the onset of the pandemic.
“The beginning of the pandemic was a lot to take in,” Charnas says, noting that it was hard to take the criticism online and that she took time away from social media to reflect on herself and her actions.
“It was never my intention to hurt or offend anyone,” she says.“I was really open about everything that happened with my experience having COVID-19 and my response and reactions to it.”
“Throughout this experience one thing I’ve come to terms with is that I’m only human,” Charnas continues. “I have learned a lot of lessons (in 2020), but as an influencer with a large platform I recognize that I am held to higher standards and want to be a role model for my community.”
Thanks to what she has learned, she’s been using her platform more to speak out “about important topics” including the promotion of small businesses.
Charnas is also putting “a lot more thought” into her daily posts, she says.
While being in the public eye has proven to be difficult at times, her career is something of a fantasy come to life. She’s always wanted to share her love for fashion and styling with others.
“It’s a dream come true I get to do it as a career,” Charnas says.