How to build a community

Johnnie and the Bodenistas

Last week we were invited along to Boden HQ for a Tea Party. It seems Johnnie and the team were very pleased with the post we wrote recently on how to be a great brand, so they invited us along to meet some of their best customers, who they affectionately call the ‘Bodenistas’.

Visiting Boden Towers felt a little like entering the secret underground headquarters of Dr No (not in an evil way),  but as soon as you leave the dreary Hanger Lane gyratory system and see the large familiar blue Boden sign, birds start singing, church bells ring and you feel you have entered a lovely Cotswold village. Ok, I am fantasising here, but there is certainly a feeling of familiarity, the team are definitely as friendly as any small village and the press team had laid out a delicious spread that would do any cricket team proud!

Amanda and I had gone along thinking the ‘Bodenistas’ had been hand picked by the marketing team because they were Boden’s biggest spenders – as is the way with most other brands events we have previously attended. But we soon found out this group of woman had met on the Boden community website and had invited themselves along. United by their love of the brand, they had been chatting online about how much they would love to meet Johnnie and the team and had emailed to ask if they could visit. The team said yes and saw it as a great opportunity to get feedback on the new Autumn/Winter range.

It seems the Boden community is as alive and kicking as any real life community and offers the members a lot more than just a place to talk about clothes. The online equivalent of a fashionable WI or book/gardening/supper club, it brings together all the things the Boden customer loves – craft, cooking, gardening, fashion and a chance to interact with like minded people.

The Bodenistas told us how supportive they found the community and how many friends they had made. One woman had even written a song – which she very bravely performed – about how much she loves Boden.

They had travelled from all over the UK and Europe and were ecstatic to be given the opportunity to meet Johnnie and the team and feedback about what they loved and didn’t love about the range. I suspect some were even a little bit in love with Johnnie – and would secretly love to live on that farm in Wiltshire – I’d watch out if I were you Sophie!

Two of the design team and the delicious tea

As we’ve said before, even if Boden isn’t you cup of Earl Grey from a fashion point of view, you have to admire the way they work. Their desire to build a supportive inclusive community in an industry which can often make women feel bad about themselves, is to be admired.

Talking to the design team was both refreshing and insightful. I am a huge admirer of any brand who know who they are and design with the customer in mind, rather than themselves, and these designers were 100% customer focussed. Too many High Street retailers waste vast amounts of time trying to copy each other and chasing catwalk trends, instead of focusing on their consumers.
Perhaps they need to take a leaf out of Johnnie’s book, or even better, the Bodenistas – boy do these ladies know what they want!

Two of the Bodenistas

 

1 Comment

  • Checks says:

    I am one of these Bodenistas, and I think I speak for everyone, who was there last week, when I say that it was a really excellent day. Boden treated us like VIPs and made us all feel very very welcome indeed. Perhaps it was rude of us to invite ourselves to Boden Towers, but it seemed fitting that we all met there. As you have said in your article, the Boden Community is a place, not only to discuss our latest or impending Boden purchases, but so much more aside. The men and women on the site are intelligent, fun, supportive, amusing, and so diversely different that it is hard to yank myself away sometimes….and my housework has suffered as a result! Thanks again Boden for a super day.

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