The Changing Factor – Launch of a Modern Brand

In October 2016 we met up with freelance leather goods designer Magda Daniloaia and talked to her about her work. We also found out that she was working on launching her own brand, The Changing Factor, later in the year.

Fast forward a few months and she has done it! She’s launched her leather goods brand, The Changing Factor – a modern brand with truly unique design aesthetic. She takes classic shapes and reinvents them by drawing inspiration from art, architecture, and punk.

She has aimed her products to a discerning clientele who would appreciate her use of luxurious leathers, top quality hardware – all sourced from Italy. The products are well designed and feature ultra-organised interiors for the modern woman such as pockets for phones, pens, receipts and elastic bands to hold technology.

We recently caught up with Magda to find out more about her brand and recent launch.

How long did it take you to launch the collection?

I have been working on and off on the idea for three years. On the brand itself, I have been working full-time for just over one year before launching online!

What is your design process?  Do you have shape ideas and designs first and then look for the materials or do you start with colours and materials in mind and then find designs to fit them?

Because we have such an architectural aesthetic to our design look, it is difficult to start with the materials, but we do need materials to achieve the results desired. We definitely start with a leather look – I know from the start if I will want either grainy leather or smooth or printed, etc.. But then the most important thing for us is the shape, the silhouette. We want looks that are strong, we want shapes that stand out. Normally we do not know what the final result will be. We do a lot of experiments in 3D and also we make use of reinforcements until we create the shapes and volumes that tell our story.

We also think a lot about interior pockets and materials – we care a lot about helping women stay organised and we love luxurious, velvety suede interiors! We are convinced that, if designed well, the interior of a bag can give you a little bit of joy every single day!

Who is your brand designed for – who is your ideal client?

Ambitious, career-driven women that have an edgier aesthetic – no matter their choice of career – we are welcoming entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists, artists, musicians, etc.  We think they can all have these things in common and we simply want to be a big, wonderful family.

How is your brand different from others who design with the same or similar customer in mind?

We felt and still feel that modern women are not catered enough to. There are still way too many brands, in our opinion, especially older brands that portray women almost like they used to seventy years ago. There have been fundamental changes for women in societies all over the world and I truly think not just some brands, but the majority should not only reflect but focus on that. We want to portray women as intelligent, stylish, powerful individuals – because in our world that is what they are.

How big is your collection?

The collection has thirteen different styles in two to four colourways. We wanted to create styles for different purposes – we have bags for work, bags for going out, as well as small leather goods – all created with the modern woman in mind, who enjoys a more geometric, edgier aesthetic.

What challenges did you face in the process of launching it?

I do think the hardest part was getting the initial samples ready and looking as they are supposed to be looking. Especially because our bags are a bit more complicated in their construction and details, we had to make sure we got everything spot-on.

In the end, we got exactly the results we wanted but it was not all straight forward, not in terms of having materials arrive at the factory on time, nor the design process or the costing of samples. We also had to work with more than one country in Europe to achieve our goals.

How did you find your manufacturer?

It was not easy – as mentioned earlier. We initially looked at Italy because we are a luxury brand and Italy is the most obvious choice. But we encountered issues on the way when working on the sample development. I am sure there are many good factories in Italy that are interested in innovation but we found that the one we were working with was more open towards traditional projects rather than more unusual ones – even if we walked them through step by step and even gave them the patterns. It was taking way too long and costing way too much and we weren’t getting anywhere.

Then we took a decision. We needed to work with someone else, at least for the development stage. We looked at other Italian factories but also I have looked at Romanian ones – because I am originally from there and have the advantage of speaking the language. We ended up finding a really good factory that was also close to the airport (great for travelling back and forth) and they finished the collection the way we wanted it in roughly a month. This was simply amazing, considering it took us almost a year to do a few samples in Italy. We were really pleased with the results so we kept on working with them for the time being – their quality is excellent and they have a good reputation working with other big, global luxury brands.

In the future, we will either manufacture in Italy or Romania. The quality is the same in the top factories in each country but, at least for the development stage of the collections, we may have to go to the same factory considering we had such a good experience. Our production and development will probably always stay in Europe.

The Changing Factor - Utelier Madga Danialoaia Interview

You refer to your brand as a movement – why and how is that?

Our goal is to truly serve the modern women. We do this in different ways.

One way is through our products, created with modern women in mind. While the design is edgy but the products are technology friendly and have many useful pockets to keep all the daily essentials, which most women accessories don’t have. The bags even have a phone/travel pocket at the back for easy access on the go.

Another way is through our Society.  We are currently gathering fans all over the world, aiming to form a global society of modern women, where they can meet, encourage and inspire each other and help each other grow. There have been more women’s ‘clubs’ initiated all over the globe, but we think it is far from enough. We are a little behind with that.

And lastly, we also support women through our charity programs. We are working now on partnering with various charities all over the world focusing on women’s issues and we will be giving 10% of all our profits to them to help bring justice and equality for women and girls around the globe.

To answer the question, we consider ourselves a movement because we are so focused on women and we believe we will make a difference through all that we do.

You mentioned that part of your profits goes to charities – why did you make this choice?

Yes, 10% of our profits go to women’s charities and we are very passionate about this little fact. Why? Because we are a brand that is all about women and helping and supporting women and this is just one of the things we can and want to do. We do not currently have equality for women and girls across the globe and we think if we were fortunate enough to be able to achieve a lot then we should help empower others to do the same.

What charities do you support?

We are currently looking for the exact partners to work with. We hope to start with some charities that focus on Africa and then extend to other parts of the world, including very developed countries. Sadly, there are needs everywhere.

What is your route to market – do you plan to wholesale or solely focus on direct to market route

We have our own website and blog and we love to connect with and reach customers that way because we are in control of the whole experience. But we also have a pretty strong wholesale strategy – we already have four UK based online stockists on board and one physical one confirmed in London – and we are working on getting more on board – we would like to be stocked ultimately in most major cities on the globe.

How many collections do you plan to launch per year?

We will have no more than two main collections per year but we will have lots of smaller capsule collections – we like to keep things exciting.

What have you learned from this launch? If you could do it all over again – what would you do differently or better?

Is it really cheesy to say I would not change a thing? A lot of people questioned my approach – which was “slowly but surely” and advised us to get investors and really do the launch with a boom but I believe it takes a while to put a good business system in place and we have taken the time to do just that. We have a solid foundation and we are already building fast on that!

What is the bigger vision for your brand?

We certainly aim to be stocked in the major cities of the world and beyond and we want to make a palpable difference with our women’s society – #theuntamedclub and our charity partnerships, helping women all over the globe.

Connect with Magda here or view her collection online here.

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