Strategy

How collaboration can take your business to the next level

Susan Vaz /

Susan Vaz Band of Boys

Band of Boys managing director and designer Susan Vaz. Source: Supplied.

Collaboration is all about harnessing the collective genius from specialists in their areas. It gives you the opportunity to achieve at the top of your game, extend your reach to new potential customers and compete way beyond your core market.

In a global social-media space, the pressure is on to continually keep your business fresh with new ideas, and what better way to do this than working with people who are doing cool things from other industries.

Working in the retail space, it is important our business strives to be a brand that changes its look a little from season to season. Collaborating with others helps us to do this in a more dynamic way, and it adds a unique complexity and diversity to our products.

Be open to people who want to work with you. In this world where it is so easy to get in touch with people, you don’t always know what someone is after. Do your homework and don’t be afraid to give someone a chance to prove themselves, as there isn’t a lot to lose in doing so. I’ve learnt to thoughtfully consider all opportunities, say yes to some that seem right, and then quickly shut things down if it starts to feel like the wrong partnership.

There is more to learn from moving forward than staying still and I believe that customers become far more excited when a brand is being dynamic and building momentum.

Thinking global

Working with others is important, and I believe today’s customers want to see brands having inclusion in what they are doing. It brings a real entertainment value in many ways, from the team at the office feeling connected to someone on the other side of the world, to the end-user customers feeling like they are buying something special with a real story behind it.

As a New Zealand-based brand, we take the ‘act locally, think globally’ maxim quite seriously, as it is so relevant to us down here on our small island. This is why we have chosen to have a long-term collaboration with Matthew Langille, an artist hailing from New York, as working with him injects an authentic global aspect to our brand. This is where the magic happens for us.

The energy we get when we are working with Matthew adds a real cleverness to our business and we find this flows through to how we design each and every detail of our collections. With the different perspectives involved, we find we end up with better ideas and outcomes. Not only are his illustrations on point for our brand, but the partnership also provides a real talking point for our products, as we are sharing his ideas in our own way.

Finding the right fit

When looking for someone to collaborate with it is crucial to partner with someone who thinks like the brand and who is able to bring inspiration from being on the ground in a different market or industry. This is what will bring the flair and allow your brand the opportunity to be noticed. 

I also suggest connecting with an individual or brand who has a robust network that you can tap into, and who can open up some interesting introductions and organic opportunities for growth, as these are always priceless.

Just make sure you are always advocating for your brand when considering any opportunity or partnership and have real clarity on who your brand is and what you stand for.

Not every collaboration will break the internet but there will be plenty that are great for your brand. A key lesson is to turn down partnerships that just don’t make any sense for your brand and that aren’t stretching your audience.

Collaborations are always extra work and require resources, money, time and detail. This is more than worth it for the right opportunity but will leave you feeling cheated it if you’ve been working overtime with not enough return.

Being present in the space

In this highly engaged social space that we are working in, it is interesting, quite literally, to make space for our customers and friends to meet collaborators they may not otherwise run into.

It’s about being present in the space and giving back to your community in a way that works for everyone. You might think collaboration is just a hot buzzword in the business world, but I know it can maximise your creative impact and take your business to the next level.

NOW READ: Teamwork makes the dream work: Why startups and small businesses should be partnering with athletes

NOW READ: How smart brands are approaching collaboration

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Susan Vaz

Susan is the managing director and designer at Band of Boys.