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Boys lie: How a ‘Vanderpump Rules' ‘Scandoval' caused this business to boom

Boys Lie
  • More small businesses are relying on influencers to build brand recognition on social media.
  • When Ariana Madix, one of the stars of Bravo's “Vanderpump Rules,” stepped out wearing a Boys Lie hoodie and matching sweatpants post-breakup, sales of the sweatsuit skyrocketed, according to the brand's co-founders.
  • The brand's marketing strategy involves gifting the clothes to celebrities and social media influencers at no cost, in hopes they will post photos in the apparel on their own feeds.

It was the betrayal heard around the world.

Earlier this year, when Bravo's "Vanderpump Rules" star Tom Sandoval cheated on his long-time girlfriend Ariana Madix with their co-star and real-life friend, Raquel Leviss, it reverberated from social media to front-page news.

Madix summed up the cheating scandal, dubbed "Scandoval," well, stepping out days later on her way to tape the highly anticipated "Vanderpump Rules" reunion in a yellow hoodie and matching sweatpants from the clothing brand Boys Lie.

Tori Robinson and Leah O'Malley, best friends and co-founders of Los Angeles-based Boys Lie, said the paparazzi photo caused an immediate spike in sales of the brand's "1-800-BOYS-LIE" sweatshirt and sweatpants.

"It blew up in a way we had never seen before," Robinson said.

Robinson and O'Malley started the business in 2018, but it wasn't until they began making clothing with their simple catch phrase, "boys lie" — and celebrities started wearing it — that their brand got off the ground.

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More recently, Tori Spelling wore a Boys Lie T-shirt in her first outing after news of her divorce from Dean McDermott broke after 17 years of marriage. Once again, the catchy logo caused a stir.

"Our brand is a way to represent your emotions without having to say anything at all," O'Malley said.

Their marketing strategy involves gifting the clothes to celebrities and social media influencers at no cost. In return, Robinson and O'Malley hope the celebrities and influencers will post photos in the apparel on their own on feeds. This, alone, helps drives sales.

A business born on Instagram

"We strictly gift out with the hope that a celebrity will wear it," Robinson said, then they circulate the photos online. So far, it has worked. Last year, the pair made $8 million in revenue by selling both wholesale and direct to consumer and are on track to hit between $9 million and $10 million in 2023, according to the company.

TikTok and Instagram have quickly become the easiest and cheapest way to launch a business.

As e-commerce platforms, they are highly effective, too. Most people, particularly millennials and Gen Zers, have spent money they weren't originally planning to on products they saw in their social media feeds, several studies show.

What's next for Boys Lie

Now the duo is working on their next "drop" and have a podcast by the same name. Boys Lie has become "more of a lifestyle," Robinson said.

O'Malley likens them to "big sisters" for their customers who often write in to share their own relationship horror stories.

"Anyone can go through heartbreak," she said. "We've become a voice to vent."

Disclosure: CNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal, owns Bravo.

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