NO MORE UGLY
No More Ugly is a business I created out of my own frustration for the lack of camera bags in the Australian market that were both stylish in design and affordable.
Founded in 2013, No More Ugly now has customers from all around the world; from the Netherlands to New Zealand. My mission was to rid the world of ugly one thing at a time, starting with camera bags. The business prides itself on offering limited designs that are simple and sophisticated, made with the everyday modern creative in mind. From concept to implementation, here’s a look into my business and design process in creating No More Ugly.
The camera accessories market was dominated by big brands like Canon, Lowepro and Thinktank. The challenge was to create a boutique brand that changed the traditional perception of camera accessories and the way you travel with your camera. We needed to differentiate ourselves from larger brands and gain the trust of new customers.
There is a gap in the market for stylish, affordable camera bags.
Stylish camera bags are too expensive.
There’s not enough choice for stylish camera bags.
Traditional camera bags look touristy.
Since the product is relatively niche, it wasn’t difficult to narrow down to two target profiles:
The fashion conscious
Problem: “I can’t find a camera bag that matches my outfit and is affordable”.
Problem: “All the camera bags out there make me look like a tourist when I’m travelling and I can’t blend in like a local”.
I selected these two personas as the main targets which gave me clarity when developing a message that connected with the final customer. Below is a more in-depth look into the personas.
I created this brand with a mission to rid the world of ugly one thing at a time. The meaning of ‘ugly’ goes beyond an aesthetic meaning. The true purpose is to enable the freedom to create and do meaningful work, to empower creatives to do what they love and eliminate the ‘ugly’ in life (which can be interpreted differently for everyone).
One way we do this is by creating well designed products that support the everyday creative. I used a ‘brand-on-a-page’ system to see a birds eye view of the brand.
I used a moodboard for aesthetics and style direction. The colour palette is neutral and the graphics are bold and contemporary.
My vision was to design something that was minimalist, sophisticated, didn’t look like a camera bag and can be worn with any outfit. I wanted to source PU leather because it was more affordable for the customer and can elevate the product. At the time there were very few leather camera backpacks in the market. Luxury leather backpacks in the accessories market was becoming very popular as well as urban and street style.
Here’s a look at the final products created.
Where are the bags made?
FACTORY: GUANGZHOU BAIYUN GIODDY LEATHER BAG FACTORY
LOCATION: GUANGZHOU, CHINA
I got in contact with three factories in China and set up meetings with them. I visited Guangzhou in 2017 and decided to work with Gioddy bag factory.
The next 6 months included back and forth communication and 3 rounds of samples. I conducted user testing for each round of samples on three individuals that fit my customer persona. They were given a bag each to test for a week and gave feedback on the design and functionality of it. Quality was an important factor as camera gear is expensive and required durable material and structure for maximum protection. The inserts had to be sturdy enough and I wanted to structure of the bag to be able to stand up on its own but not detract from the sleek and sophisticated look of the bag.
I sampled 4 colour ways and decided on two colours for production. I wanted to keep the colour ways and product styles streamlined so I can receive initial feedback from the market and keep logistics and warehousing costs low.
Bringing the vision to life
It was important for me to bring the brand to life through a series of images that had the right balance of fashion and function. I’ve experimented with lifestyle photography and product photography that showed both the fashion aspect of the brand and what it can actually carry in terms of gear.
What I’ve learnt from testing previous imagery is that to attract the right customers (Jessica & Matt), it was important to lead with the fashion aspect, then reveal the functions and details of the bag. This immediately establishes that the brand is not trying to compete with the big brands like Lowepro or Think Tank who are very heavily function focused. By being ‘function focused’, this tends to attract professional photographers who isn’t our target profile.
With this in mind, I planned, produced and photographed a lookbook series that was unisex and fashion focused, to create an urban street fashion feel. These images were used for the website.
Photographer: Tina Lee
Models: @vanillachristy, @tianmacleodji
Location: Hong Kong
Designing the shopping experience
To build the ecommerce website, I used Shopify due to its ease of use and integrations with many third party extensions. The platform also has a strong support forum which is useful for any issues. Once I selected a suitable template, I started with an audit of my previous website design (2017) as I was going through an update for 2018. There were refinements I wanted to make as I wanted to steer the brand towards a more fashion-focused product using the new lookbook imagery. I sketched a rough wireframe of the home page and product page. The goal was to establish brand feel and product desirability straight away and not make it look like a commodity product. This was feedback given to me from a VC in San Francisco.
I used a site map to solidify the architecture of the website. I wanted the home page to reflect a landing page, allowing plenty of opportunity for the user to click into the product page and learn more.
Click to watch the desktop website scroll through below or view the live website here.
Using the Hotjar heatmapping software, I was able to gather insight into the scrolling and tapping behaviour of 1000 users. It shows that most users make use of the hamburger menu to go directly where they’d like to go. Users also tend to go directly to the product as shown in the clicks on the hero image shop button and classic black button. It was important to establish the brand personality above the average fold using a clear message and strong image.
Building this business from scratch has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with dozens of creatives, talents and fellow business owners who have helped and supported the brand. I’ve learnt the importance of persistance and asking for help. The most important thing however is execution!
CAN Circular Design be integrated into the business?
A vision of mine is to integrate Circular Design practices into the business similar to Patagonia. This could be done through offering lifetime repairs and sourcing recycled materials that are durable and long lasting.