No More Ugly is a small but ambitious fashion brand. Currently specialising in camera bags, the goal of the start-up is to “rid the world of ugly, one thing at a time”, with the kicker being that ugly doesn’t just refer to products. After a year in existence, business is beginning to pick up thanks in part to a greater emphasis on promotion through social media.
I sat down with Tina Lee, the creator of the No More Ugly brand, to chat about design, brand management, and to find out just why she wants to rid the world of all things ugly.
What gave you the inspiration to start No More Ugly?
Tina Lee: I’ve always wanted to start my own brand. I discovered these bags when I was traveling in Hong Kong and straight away I knew I wanted to share them with Australia. I wanted to show everyone that there were these amazing looking camera bags that will make you want to take your DSLR out with you. Seeing the bags for the first time was a real light bulb moment.
Your site mentions the goal is to “rid the world of ugly one thing at a time.” Would you mind expanding on that philosophy a little bit?
TL: What I wanted to do was to find those things – for instance the camera bags – which, traditionally aren’t viewed as something very stylish and rid people of that perception. On the design side it’s taking functional things and making them better designed so you want to take them out with you. Without trying to be too superficial, having a good design is really important.
But also, ridding the world of ugly doesn’t necessarily apply to just material things. On the blog, I wrote about helping to rid the world of cancer because I was volunteering for the cancer council. So what I want is for people to realise that ‘ugly’ isn’t strictly limited to superficial things. Anything ugly I feel like we can try to rid the world of.
Why camera bags? What about them did you find particularly ugly?
TL: I always found it difficult to bring my DSLR out every day because there weren’t any nice and convenient bags around for them. You always have to make sure that you protect your DSLR because it’s expensive, but at the same time I don’t want to bring that ugly, black velcro bag that came with my camera for free out with me all the time.
So are the bags on the site your designs?
TL: No, the ones on the site aren’t. But I am looking to design my own in the future. At this stage it’s all about testing out the market and developing the brand. Once I have a solid brand foundation I really want to have a line under No More Ugly that is exclusive to us because it is designed by the brand itself.
When I establish my brand a bit more then I plan to expand into other products. Since the brand is very personal to me it will always have my own kind of twist on it, so I won’t be selling anything that I don’t believe in or that I’m not interested in. So if there’s an ugly laptop bag or something, we can rid the world of that. We can apply the mission statement to anything that can do with a design spruce.
A lot of the designs on the site are very minimalist, very simple.
TL: That’s exactly right. My design style has always been of the idea that simple is always the strongest, so I’ve tried to make that part of the brand itself. I’m very specific about how I want things to look, and as a graphic designer I also know how things should look on the technical side. With the bags you can’t tell that it’s a camera bag from the outside. The trick is on the inside you’ve got all the protective sections and compartments for your camera and equipment, but it’s all hidden. Looking sleek with your camera bag doesn’t happen often so I want to make that the norm.
What background do you have that suits starting a business like No More Ugly? Is this something you’d always wanted to do?
TL: I’m working full time at the moment at a small fashion company, but the whole 9-5 thing isn’t something I want to do forever. I’d be more than happy to work 24/7 if it was for my own brand.
I studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing at UTS and then I worked as a marketing assistant at a superannuation firm. I wouldn’t say that it was the most horrible year, but it really showed me that the corporate world isn’t for me. So I decided on a graphic design degree from Shillington College. Learning graphic design opens up so many opportunities. You have enough knowledge to dabble in things yourself. I do a lot of product photography in my job – that’s how I’ve learnt lighting and re-touching and how to show off a product’s features and functions – so I do all my own photography for the site. I set up the website and created the brand myself, all thanks to that graphic design and marketing base. I can’t have a website called No More Ugly that looks ugly!
I still enjoy the marketing side, so combining both seemed the most beneficial for me because I never really wanted to do just design or just marketing.
Do you have any tips for anyone else looking to start this kind of enterprise?
TL: Know your brand. I think that’s the biggest tip that I can give anyone. Branding is so important. Don’t start anything that you don’t believe in because you are the face of the brand, so when I talk to people about No More Ugly I hope people can see that I’m really passionate about it. You have to know why you’ve started. Make sure you have a strong foundation and personality because that’s how you gain an audience.
If people like your brand they will want to follow you.
You can find No More ugly at their website here. And you can follow their social media exploits on Facebook and Instagram.