Belt-free fashion pouches.
By NEIS Now | Published 22 May 2018
Former NEIS client and Brisbane entrepreneur Emily Bitkow has totally reinvented the must-have fashion staple of the 80s, the bum bag! A regular festival-goer, Emily was frustrated at having to lug her stuff around in a cumbersome bag and yearned for the freedom of a small, hands-free tote for her credit cards, keys and phone so she could move and dance unrestricted!
Being at the very beginning of a new endeavour was daunting but Emily undertook the NEIS program with Sarina Russo in Brisbane and picked up tailored business advice, financial support and guidance while she worked on the pouch design and navigated fabric sourcing and manufacturing.
“I just absolutely love the NEIS program. The best thing for me was the ongoing help from my mentor. It is such a great initiative. The fact that the Government supports start-ups not only with mentorship but also financially, is amazing.”
With passion and fierce determination, VIVRA was born in 2016. Emily’s innovative take on the bum bag has a patented bi-fold design, which attaches to any garment with extra-strong magnets, instead of being strapped around your waist. The result is a fashionable, water-resistant pouch capable of carrying all your essentials – whilst doing yoga or pilates, heading out for a run, shopping or dancing.
The pouches were a hit at local markets, and soon after Sarah Hua joined forces with Emily to invest in and help grow VIVRA to the commercial business success it is today. The brand has experienced rapid expansion, with 46% year-on-year growth.
VIVRA have received a lot of publicity, including features in The Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times locally; and Daily Mail and Daily Star in the UK. For marketing, they’ve harnessed the power of Instagram, where they cultivate brand loyalty and enthusiasm among their 16,700+ fans. Emily and Sarah encourage and celebrate UGC (user-generated content), through their custom branded hashtag #vivralifestyle. The girls also regularly share styling tips and photos of themselves using the pouches, making the brand relatable and approachable. Other posts featuring styled images and flatlays maintain the aspirational appeal. The pouches are often paired with complimentary active apparel and streetwear brands to help customers shop a cohesive look.
VIVRA pouches are sold Internationally through selected stockists and from their online store, with Australia and New Zealand being their two key markets. VIVRA were early adopters of Instagram’s Shopping tag functionality and they have recently negotiated distribution via Amazon in the US.
Emily and Sarah continually innovate. In December 2017 they launched Mummy and Me matching bags for mothers and children, and they recently introduced RFID (radio-frequency identification) functionality to protect their customers from ‘electronic pickpocketing’. A new sustainable range is about to be launched and Vivra has just been shortlisted for the Telstra Business Awards 2018 – a prestigious acknowledgment recognising excellence, innovation and best practice in Australia.
With a continued commitment to design, functionality and innovation, there is no stopping Sarah and Emily’s drive to change the way people move.