Over the last decade, we have seen online influencers transform the way marketing is done. Their ability to communicate with their audience in a more authentic way has been central to this. Many of these influencers both big and small are realizing that rather than working with brands, a better way to go about things, which would allow them to sell products they are passionate about and know their audience love is launching their own brands. One influencer who has done exactly this is Alex Cannon, cofounder of Craftd London.
Cannon started his career as a model, persuaded by his mother at 18 to go into the field. Alongside this, he spent time working on several different endeavors which included launching a nutrition business as well as doing summer seasons working as a barman in bars and clubs around Europe. This lifestyle was hectic, involved lots of traveling and partying, leaving Cannon feeling unfulfilled and wanting more—at the age of 25 he decided it was time to call it a day on the party lifestyle and decided to head home and find something he could really sink his teeth in to. Working on these endeavors coincided with the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram. He decided to set up an account and in the early days utilized his mobile camera before investing in a professional one, asking friends to take photos as well as using photography from his modeling shoots. Over time his creative talent shone through and his following continued to grow into the tens and then hundreds of thousands. However, whilst this was a great success and had a great time travelling the world modelling; Cannon knew that modelling and working on brand partnerships as an influencer was not his endgame and had a desire to launch his own brands.
In 2018, Cannon had a business idea to launch a jewelry brand based on a problem he had encountered. When buying fashion jewelry for his photoshoots he noticed that in the market there was cutting-edge, cool jewelry made by smaller brands but unfortunately the quality was often low. Conversely, there were higher-end brands who were not forward-thinking with their designs. He wanted to launch a brand that was a combination of both, forward-thinking with cutting edge design but also high quality.
He had previously met e-commerce entrepreneur Danny Buck to discuss promoting a brand and thought he would reach out to discuss a potential partnership as they both shared similar views on ways of working. Cannon was “aware of my strengths” he says and knew that whilst he loved the creative side of the business it would be best to partner with someone who could manage the operational side of things. After a meeting Buck accepted and they both invested a couple of thousand pounds to get Craftd off the ground.
Building Craftd and The Future
Cannon already had a vision of the types of jewelry he wanted to create so he started working on sketching the first products on his kitchen table. Once they had the designs they wanted in mind the duo went about getting the CAD (Computer-Aided Design) versions created. The first product they launched was their Compass Pendant in both silver and gold. Not only is it a good-looking piece it represents something the two founders share which is “following your inner compass in both life and business.”
The launch of their first product proved to be a huge success selling thousands of units. However, cognizant of the fact that many brands founded by influencers have initial success but taper off the pair knew they had to keep innovating and launching new products. They re-invested the profits and Cannon worked on new designs whilst Buck continued to structure the operations in a scalable way. The duo attribute their success to knowing their strengths and having an “amazing and tightly knit team.” Currently experiencing 400% growth on last year, don’t expect CRAFTD to be fading away anytime soon.
Today, Cannon has achieved his objective and is no longer promoting for other brands or modeling. He spends his time as designer and Creative Director of Craftd with a vision “greater than he ever imagined.”
This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. To submit ideas for features or keep up to date with new releases you can find me on Twitter – @TommyPF91