How Triangl Dressed Influencers Worth A Million Dollars in Their Bikinis at Zero Cost

Triangl's influencer marketing strategy, built on relationships, turned a small bikini company into a million-dollar business.

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

February 15, 2024

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In 2012 Erin Deering and Craig Ellis started a swimwear company to provide well-designed swimwear at an affordable price. The initial goal was to sell one bikini a day so that they can make the same amount of money that they were making in salaries before starting the business.

The real breakthrough however came from leveraging influence marketing, especially around 2014. In just three years after launch, they were selling 1,500 bikinis a day and making ~$45 million in revenue.

At the heart of Triangl's approach was a straightforward yet effective tactic: gifting bikinis to influencers without demanding anything in return.

In this blog we'll look at Triangl's influencer marketing strategy and show you how you can implement some of the insights for your own DTC brand.

A simple outreach process

From the start, Erin and her partner Craig Ellis knew that they couldn't spend a lot on advertising. That's when they discovered the idea of product gifting — sending your product as gift to influencers in the hope that they would post about you.

But they faced a challenge when trying to reach out to influencers — direct messaging wasn't an option back then.

To get in touch with influencers, they had to leave public comments on the influencers' most recent posts. Their comments usually went like this: “Hi [influencer. name], we’d love to get in touch, if you can please let us know your email. Erin.”

Their approach was straightforward but thoughtful, aiming to make a personal connection.

For many brands these days, the problem happens at the stage even before DM because picking up the right influencer is a hassle.

An effective solution is tools like SARAL. In SARAL, you can input what you're looking for, like "swimmers" or "fashion" and with a few clicks, the tool sifts through loads of influencer profiles. It pulls up a list of influencers who match your criteria, and you can save them all in one easy-to-handle list without any copy-pasting!

This way, you can ditch the messy spreadsheets and adopt a tidy, easy-to-use system.

To vet the influencers — whether they have enough engagement and 'die-hard fans' who listen to them, try SARAL's free Chrome extension. It allows you to see influencer's stats, and even predict a fair fee to pay.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Directly reaching out to influencers creates a stronger connection than automated systems. Personalized communication, even in the early stages, can lead to better engagement and more genuine collaborations.
  • Choose Quality Over Quantity: Don't just aim for influencers with massive followings. Look for those whose content and audience align with your brand values.

Building relationships over email

Once they got the email address of the influencer, they would email them offering to send their bikini for free with no obligations to post or create content.

Here's what they did something interesting at this stage —

They didn't just send a link to their website and ask the influencer to pick a bikini and use a coupon to get it for free. Instead, they would do a little back-and-forth over email getting to know the influencer's preferences and asking them their size.

They wanted to avoid making the influencer go through the hassle of placing an order. They also wanted to keep things personal and not let technology take over the process.

This approach was a great way to build a relationship through email, keeping the human connection alive.

If you have a lot on your plate or reaching out to thousands of influencers each month, can't keep track of emails, and wish to automate the process, check out SARAL's automated drip email feature. It automatically pauses follow-ups when an influencer responds, preventing any unnecessary messages.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Offering products without demanding promotional content in return can create trust and lead to more authentic endorsements.
  • Taking the time to understand an influencer's preferences shows that you value the partnership, enhancing the relationship and potentially leading to more enthusiastic posts.

Follow up with influencers

After the influencers received their bikinis, the founders made it a point to personally follow up. They were keen on gathering valuable feedback but made a conscious decision not to press for promotional content.

This approach was rooted in the belief that building a genuine relationship with influencers was paramount. It was this foundation of mutual respect and appreciation that naturally led influencers to share posts about their bikinis.

Here's an example of a post from 2015…

The tradition still continues where influencers post about Triangl out of love for the brand…

Every interaction with an influencer, every time an influencer mentioned their brand, was carefully recorded in an Excel spreadsheet. This meticulous tracking ensured that they took advantage of every opportunity to engage, strengthening their relationship with each influencer further.

Back in 2014-15, this process was manual and time-consuming.

But not anymore. Tools like SARAL simplify the process of managing influencer outreach and relationship tracking.

SARAL automates much of the grunt work that the founders had to do manually. It allows brands to focus on what truly matters—building those crucial relationships with influencers—while leaving the tracking and management to the software. Try it for free here.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Following up for feedback, not just promotional content shows influencers that you care about their experience and the quality of your product.
  • Meticulously tracking each interaction with influencers helps in recognizing patterns, understanding what works, and building on successful strategies. SARAL can automate and simplify this process, ensuring no opportunity for engagement is missed.

Resharing content on their Instagram

The brand had established a set of strict but clear & simple guidelines for repurposing influencer content on their own social media pages. They wanted the bikini on a body, with white sand and blue water in the picture.

This proved to be quite hard, as they didn’t receive very many photos like this. This resulted in being slightly flexible with what they would repost. So they also reposted any images showing a “flat lay” bikini – the placement of a bikini laid flat — on their social media feed.

This shows a keen awareness of the importance of brand image.

Unlike other brands that might prioritize quantity over quality, Triangl was selective, choosing only those images that aligned with their aesthetic and messaging – fashion-forward bikinis at accessible prices.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Re-share influencer's posts on your social media channels to show appreciation for their shout-out and build social proof.
  • If you're selling a lifestyle product, be selective in resharing influencer content. Ensure it aligns with your brand's aesthetic and message to maintain a consistent brand image.

Building a community of Trianglgirls

After several months the founders noticed that a few girls were repeatedly posting their bikinis. They were doing a great job, so they kept sending bikinis, knowing it would result in photos the brand could reuse.

And this was the start of Triangl’s biggest movement on social media — #trianglgirls.

Anyone who wears a Triangl bikini tags the post with hashtag #trianglgirls. There are about  275K posts under this hashtag as of now.

By consistently gifting bikinis to influencers who resonated with their brand ethos and who were keen to share their positive experiences, Triangl was able to cultivate a dedicated group of brand ambassadors.

All this was possible because Triangl consciously chose to collaborate with emerging influencers rather than established celebrities, specifically targeting those whose personal brand aligned with Triangl's youthful and fashion-forward identity.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Encourage influencers to use a specific hashtag when posting images. It can transform individual posts into a broader, community-driven movement.
  • By continuously engaging and gifting influencers who share your brand's ethos, you create a dedicated group of brand ambassadors. This approach is about long-term relationship building rather than one-off transactions.

Getting Kendell Jenner to post about Triangl

After making a splash in Australia, Triangle set its sights on going big in the US. They wanted to take their influencer marketing game to the next level, not just teaming up with smaller influencers and crossing their fingers for a sales-boosting post. They were aiming for a more calculated and speedy approach this time.

They started brainstorming about who the major players in the lifestyle scene were at that moment. One name stood out immediately: Kendall Jenner. They figured if they could get her attention, it would be a game-changer for their expansion into the US market.

This was easier said than done.

Kendall Jenner was already a big celebrity, and just getting her email or address seemed like a daunting task, let alone having her post about a bikini brand without any form of payment.

They took a step back and thought, "What if we go through her friends?" And not just any friends, but those who weren't that famous yet, like Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin. Back then, they were just starting out with ~2000 followers, nowhere near the following they have now.

Triangl started gifting bikinis to Kendall's friends, hoping it would catch her attention.

And it worked!

One day, Kendall herself reached out to Erin over email, saying all her friends had these amazing bikinis and she also wanted those. They sent her a bunch, and that was the moment everything changed for them in the States.

Kendall and her friends started wearing their bikinis, and as they grew more popular, so did the brand. And here's another interesting bit in this: Kendall didn't really tag Triangl when she posted her picture of their bikin on Instagram. But the brand had been following her and saw her post in their bikini. They re-shared it and then it was picked up by media outlets like Daily Mail.

She did share the post later on Twitter though.

And look at the comments to see the effect.

It was like a domino effect. Next thing you know, they're sending bikinis to more of the Kardashian circle, and all this without paying a dime for endorsements. It was all through smart, strategic gifting.

It showed that sometimes, it's not wise to go straight for the big fish. You need to create a buzz around them, making them come to you.

💡Takeaways for you:

  • Sometimes, directly targeting the biggest names may not be feasible. Reaching out to their circle can indirectly attract their attention.
  • Offering value beyond money, such as exclusivity or social recognition, can be a powerful motivator for influencers. Triangl's approach demonstrates that genuine product love and the right social connections can outweigh financial incentives.

How can your brand grow with influencer marketing?

Nailing influencer marketing isn't just about dazzling creativity, stellar connections, or even the relentless sharing of influencer-generated content. It's equally about having the right tools at your disposal to bring those brilliant ideas to life.

🤯 If you're still juggling between endless Google Sheets and hastily jotted-down notes to manage your influencer collaborations, you are capping your brand's potential for viral growth. And it's a perfect recipe for time drain and operational chaos.

⭐ The shift to a more streamlined system like SARAL could very well be the turbo boost your influencer marketing strategy needs.

With SARAL, you can find the best influencers, see how well your campaigns are doing, and do everything we talked about without getting stressed or spending too much. It lets you focus on building good relationships with influencers and making smart choices.

👉 Why not try it out? Start with a free trial of SARAL here. Check out all its features, get help from our team, and even run a campaign. If you’re not happy, you can cancel anytime.

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Triangl's influencer marketing strategy, built on relationships, turned a small bikini company into a million-dollar business.

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