When Australian sisters Jess and Stef Dadon started a fashion blog in July 2012, they never imagined it would lead to resounding success.
It all began when Stef went to live in Paris for six months, and the stylish duo kept in touch by sharing outfit posts on their blog How Two Live.
“It was a daily diary between the two of us. We’d hop on each morning and write to each other. Stef’s was always about her amazing adventures she was having in Paris and mine was while I was at uni in Melbourne. That was where the journey began,” Jess said.
The blog quickly gained traction, amassing thousands of readers in a matter of weeks, and the sisters recognised that there was an opportunity to seize.
“It [the blog’s success] was pretty instant. Sometimes these things are just about getting in at the right place at the right time. We jumped on the blog train when it was fairly big overseas. We were following bloggers like Elin Kling, Susie Bubble and Bryanboy, and it [blogging] wasn’t as big yet in Australia, so we saw a bit of an opportunity,” Stef said.
“But there is always a bit of luck involved in these things. It was that right time where people were looking for content and there wasn’t that saturation that there is today.”
While the Melbourne-based duo may have had some luck on their side, they were also proactive in approaching brands and PR companies, asking them to share How Two Live’s content on their platforms.
This helped to rapidly grow their audience and about six months into running their blog, brands started approaching the sisters directly to work with them on fashion campaigns and styling jobs.
After about a year, the sisters were approached by Windsor Smith to collaborate on a five-piece shoe collection inspired by their blog. It sold out in one day.
“One of our strengths has always been that we’re good at hustling for things. We landed in a place where we did create awesome content, but we were able to use that skill where we don’t take no for an answer, we just get out there and go for it. We really used that to our advantage,” Stef said.
Launching footwear brand Twoobs
In 2016, the sisters launched their own footwear brand Twoobs by taking a risk that paid off.
They went to New York Fashion Week and with only a budget of $500, they hired three models to wear their range of flatform shoes outside key show locations. The twist? The models also wore bikinis in -4C weather.
The rebellious publicity stunt caught the attention of fashion week photographers and crowds, which spread like wildfire on social media, and raised the profile of Twoobs globally.
“Doing guerrilla-style marketing and thinking outside the box and bringing creativity to marketing is something that we do really well. It’s something that is relatively simple to do, but people don’t necessarily think of doing things outside the box,” Jess said.
“From that launch at New York Fashion Week we got some amazing coverage. We didn’t necessarily grow our customer base fully off that one launch, but it [guerrilla-style marketing] is something that we do all the time.”
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Even though their stunt at New York Fashion Week paid off, the journey to getting their shoe brand off the ground was a two-year process, and one that involved numerous challenges and setbacks.
The sisters were unsuccessful with three manufacturers in China and admit to experiencing “horror stories” like dealing with companies that shut down overnight and samples disappearing.
Nevertheless, they persisted and eventually found a women-led manufacturer that they continue to work with today.
For the sisters, creating a footwear brand goes beyond just the shoes. Twoobs are vegan and PETA approved, aligning with their passion for animal welfare.
“We personally loved wearing platforms and shoes that were comfortable. We noticed a gap in the market for shoes that are comfortable and cool, and being all about female empowerment. We loved that idea that women can look awesome and feel awesome but also be really comfortable,” Stef said.
“We built this shoe label that we were able to imbue all of our values – that female empowerment aspect and also making them animal friendly.”
Diversifying a brand and building community
From launching a blog to starting their own footwear brand, the Dadon sisters have achieved a lot in their career.
They’ve built a significant audience – Twoobs currently has a social media following of more than 50,000, and the How Two Live channels boast more than 117,000 followers.
In addition to Stef and Jess, Twoobs currently employs two full time staff and two part-time staff, and the brand is now stocked at department store David Jones and online retailer The Iconic.
In February 2019, the pair launched their podcast How Two Live, where they talk about a range of topics from entrepreneurship to wellness, female empowerment, fashion and animal welfare.
They often interview prominent industry leaders and have featured the likes of Erin Brockovich, Layne Beachley, Meg Ryan and Dita Von Teese.
But after a successful stint in fashion blogging and starting their own footwear brand, why launch a podcast?
“We were at a place where we were ready to start creating content again. But we didn’t want it to be about what we looked like or about what we were wearing, like it had been previously. We really wanted it to be about what was happening inside our minds and we felt like we had a lot of value to offer, and that a podcast would be a great platform to do that,” Stef said.
The podcast shares what Stef and Jess have learned on their own business journey, as well as the learnings of their mentors and guests that feature on the show.
Beyond sharing their knowledge and the knowledge of others, the Dadon sisters have tapped into something bigger than themselves – they’ve created connection and community.
“Connection is important. People are really craving connection. And people want to connect with us; they want to see the faces behind the brand,” Jess said.
“We bumped into a woman wearing a pair of our shoes and she didn’t know that we were the founders, but there was that instant camaraderie. We’re wearing the same shoes, but we also care about animals and we also care about females and we also care about equality.
“These things that are woven into our brand means it’s not just about a pair of shoes, it’s actually about a value system and a community.”
This empathy is at the heart of everything the sisters do.
They’re also passionate about supporting women in business and offer The Two Grant, a $5000 grant and year-long mentorship, to a budding female entrepreneur each year.
“We had a lot of good fortune in our lives and opportunities to create this business and we wanted to give that same opportunity to more women,” Stef said.
“Women don’t always have that confidence, when they have a vision, to go out and execute it. More than the money, we want to encourage people to go out there and chase their dreams.”