Love Tribe’s VP of Sales on Growing a Clothing Brand Fit For 90’s Kids

By: Valeria Ramos

Love Tribe Apparel is a clothing brand fit for 90's kids who are nostalgic for the good old days of Nickelodeon, Disney Princesses and Peanuts movies. Love Tribe incorporates pop culture into clothing in a fresh way that sets it apart from the average graphic tees you might find at your local fast fashion retailer. To share more about the brand, Love Tribe's VP of sales, Bonnie Dogan, shared some insight about her career in fashion, the secret to building a brand and how Love Tribe manages to keep one foot in the past, and the other in the present. 


  How did you get started at Hybrid Apparel and how long have you been working for the 

I came to this country as an immigrant from South Africa looking for a fresh start., I joined Hybrid Apparel and started at the bottom working my way up and evolving both as a person and in my career. Building brands with a purpose was always a passion I had, and I knew I never wanted to be part of something that had no meaning. My mottos has always been to love the life you live and live the love you love. I have been at the company for 8 years now starting as an assistant working my way up into a VP role. I love my job and the people I get to work with every day

  What gave you the idea to launch Love Tribe and when was it launched?

Love Tribe launched in March of this year from a vision to combine fun, current styles with brands and characters we grew up loving. The idea is that you don’t need to “grow out” of Disney princesses and Nickelodeon (which have huge fan bases across demographics) - you can continue to express our love for the brands in a fresh way through fashion.  I also saw a lack of bold, empowering designs for young women that had longevity. We didn’t want to create fast fashion pieces that you wear for one season and disregard. These characters and messages can stick with you and live in your closet for years to come.

Bonnie Dogan, VP of Specialty Sales, Hybrid Apparel

    What responsibilities come with your job as VP of specialty sales?

I lead by example. There is nothing I have ever asked anyone else to do that I have not done myself. I have to be able to manage all elements of the business from beginning to end, which means overseeing the creative vision for the brand, an element of licensing, production, and marketing, and of course the sale and vision to the retailer. It has become more and more important to me to not sell “stuff,“ but rather clothing with a purpose that brings an interactive experience to stores. This drives  foot traffic back into brick and mortar.

 How would you describe the brand and the girls who wear it?

Love Tribe is consistently bold, fresh, different, and current - even when we’re featuring characters from years past. The Love Tribe is full of fearless and fun young women who want to use fashion to express themselves.

Your lines revolve around nostalgic pop culture artifacts like 90’s Nickelodeon shows and Disney princesses, how were these inspirations selected?

I love looking to pop culture and nostalgia for inspiration, because there’s always an opportunity to add something fresh and new that fans can connect to. Our pop culture selections have to be meaningful and positive. With Disney Princesses, we really reimagined what a millennial or 21st century Princess would look like and behave: there’s not a Happily Ever After, but its okay! Individuality and personal strength are themes we explore heavily in the Princess line, as well as Peanuts.  Also, we really wanted to play around with the idea that there’s not just one type of princess or one type of young woman in the world. We’re proud that we explore this diversity through our collections. 

What sets Love Tribe apart from other brands that might offer similar styles of clothing?

Every one of our collections has a unique look and feel. The Disney princess line is very feminine and pink, but has an edge. Our Nickelodeon line is casual and features a lot of t-shirt styles and loungewear. We really wanted to embody the feel of watching Saturday morning cartoons and reliving those memories with our customers. Our most recent launch is an athleisure line featuring Peanuts characters like Snoopy. We want to reflect the different personal styles of our customers and be inclusive with our collections. And again, we want to create pieces that are somewhat timeless, and these kind of options aren’t typically marketed to younger women.

   Some of your collections provide proceeds to TEEN LINE, could you tell us more about this and the decision to incorporate an important cause with your line?

This is really about creating something meaningful. We want our collections to touch as many girls as we can, but we have the opportunity to impact so many more lives by integrating this cause and other great organizations. I really wanted this charitable, conscious aspect to be a part of Love Tribe from day one.

 What have been your favorite and most challenging aspects of launching and growing this brand?

Growing your own brand is difficult because you sometimes have to deal with this feeling like it’s you against the world. My time at Hybrid Apparel has given me invaluable experience in retail and fashion, but nothing is guaranteed. Know who you want your customer to be and stick to that vision.

What are some goals you have for Love Tribe within the next couple of years?

I can’t say anything specific yet, but we have a big launch coming at the end of December that I can’t wait for. The global recognition of the name of our brand partner is hard to overestimate, so this is going to be a great end of year gift for the Love Tribe team (and our customers!). My goal is to keep growing the brand alongside our partner Macy’s in the year to come, who’s been hugely supportive of us throughout our launches in 2017.

 What advice would you give to someone who wants to launch their own brand?

Believe in yourself and your designs, and be smart. Pay attention to what buyers want but also never step away from your vision and belief in what you want to sell, everything you come up with has got to be sold with conviction, and always operate in a way that sets you apart from other brands. Who is the person you see wearing your clothes? Why would they pick your styles over others? These are the central questions that you always need to ask yourself - and good luck!