In terms of the follower count, we use free tools like IG Audit to determine how many real followers they have. And then we're very subjective from there. We look at whether they've had paid brand campaigns before in the premium-to-luxury space, whether they focus on the product categories we're in.
We make sure things like they're not overly sexually explicit, no hate messaging, no discrimination, etc. We’ve had roughly 4,000 influencers apply, and we've accepted 103 to date.
RIS: How do you recruit them? Or do they solicit you?
Manley: It’s a mixture of both. We see them a lot in the field when we’re working with brands. We go to all the big cultural events — Coachella, SXSW, Essence Fest, Art Basel. But we also have them come to us and apply online on a regular basis.
RIS: What market need are you fulfilling right now that that's not currently being filled?
Manley: There's nobody else, certainly in the U.S., that is allowing influencers to have their own curated merchant pages that they promote to their followers directly. Further, there's nobody that's doing that exclusively for the premium-to-luxury space, and then even further within home, health and beauty and fashion.
RIS: DTCs are disrupting all aspects of retail. What can legacy brands learn about adapting to these new trends?
Manley: It used to be that product is king. People would respond to the best-made product within their budget, and that's what they purchased. And now content is king. You can take an average product and tell a really great story with it, and have amazing content online and sell quite a bit of it. And that's what a lot of these DTC brands are doing.
I think the DTC movement is not here to stay. I do think there will be more and more offerings online as consumers’ dollars tend to move from their favorite brick and mortar store, which may be closing, to online purchasing on their favorite platform.