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“Be a gazelle and not an elephant”; Fastest growing Aussie apparel company Slyletica sees 104% growth this year
Fri 26 July 2019 - 3:05 pmEntrepreneur | Featured | Leadership
Slyletica was founded four years ago by Simon and Yetta Rawadi and the couple have created a global apparel manufacturing and brand development agency that handle some of the best activewear brands in the world.
In just over 3 years, they have created ranges for over 100 clients from 12 countries and have made $16.9 million for their clients in the process. Clients include 15-year-old Aussie influencer Taya Brooks and gym chain Body Fit Training.
Slyletica specialise in building fashion brands for influencers, athletes and businesses, creating activewear or swimwear labels for them and managing the entire process, from bespoke designs and manufacturing through to digital marketing and fulfilment for their customers.
There are impressively the number 1 fastest growing apparel company in Australia, take position 84 as one of the fastest growing startups (2018) and have seen a huge 104% growth so far this year.
Simon and Yetta originally developed their own activewear label, learning how to navigate design, production and selling in the process. They were soon inundated with requests by other brands to stock their own labels and that is how the concept the born.
We spoke to both Simon and Yetta about how Slyletica has taken off in the past four years, how they have overcome their biggest challenges and more of their top insights on growing a successful business.
Dynamic Business: Fifteen years ago Slyletica probably wouldn’t have taken off, simply due to the lack of influencers! How and when did you realise that there was a great opportunity out there for a clothing brand agency?
Simon: 15 years ago the i-phone didn’t exist, let alone influencers! I think it’s important for businesses to stay in touch with technology and understand how it’s changing the landscape.
It was not long ago when we started our own activewear line that we had people approaching us for help with their own clothing lines. We were going to gyms and asking them to stock our activewear, and they would respond with “can we put our logo on it?”. For a full year, we actually refused! Then we did it for a friend who owned a gym and it sold out! That’s how we realized there was a market.
Yetta: Even at that point, I don’t think we were thinking about pivoting the business. And it certainly wasn’t with influencers. I think 15 years ago Slyletica still would have taken off because many businesses such as gyms and hotels have their own retail space, and there was of course still celebrities building their personal brands. But it probably wouldn’t have been as fast! Social media has created a visual platform where influencers can sell-out of product within hours. It’s exciting.
Dynamic Business: What have been the biggest challenges in attracting clients to your business?
Simon: Our biggest challenge still remains the fact that we don’t share who the majority of who our clients are. We like to stay in the background and let our customers and their success shine. We generally have the opposite challenge in that we are inundated with requests for people to work with us, and have to be truly selective in who we take on to maintain the quality we’ve become known for.
Dynamic Business: What are the main ways in which Slyletica has changed since it was founded? I imagine it’s a very fast paced, evolving industry as it so closely links to social medias and influencers.
Yetta: We have changed in so many ways since starting Slyletica just 3.5 years ago. For starters, we were an activewear brand before pivoting into a manufacturing agency to now offering a complete end-to-end solution from design, marketing, fulfilment, and customer service. Those are big changes.
Simon: It’s very fast and we love it! We continue to grow and hire new staff members to meet demand. Our clients are constantly challenging us to bring innovative new technologies and textiles to the market place. Influencers are extremely particular about their brands and it’s our job to create a product that their followers will love. That isn’t easy when the landscape constantly changes but we’ve built an incredible team who are well versed in changing direction as needed.
Yetta: Our staff are an extension of our family.
Dynamic Business: How have you gained credibility and recognition as a brand? There are lots of activewear startups competing for attention on Instagram today.
Simon: We don’t compete, we actually supply and help those brands grow. You are right, there’s a lot of competition and brands need the right partner to help them stand out. From quality clothing through to marketing, it’s an entire process that needs to be planned out and thought of ahead of time. That’s exactly what we do. Global sportswear is a $290 Million industry and growing. It’s dominated by a few big players like Nike, Adidas, Puma and Lululemon to name a few, but there’s growth from categories such as athleisure. There’s lots of room for mid-sized and niche brands. It’s the perfect opportunity for those looking for a fast, profitable business that makes a difference to people’s lives. Afterall we’re in the health and wellness space.
Yetta: Fashion brands – it doesn’t matter if it is activewear, swimwear or streetwear – have to start thinking about marketing even before design. It’s all competitive. It’s important that you build a brand foundation and you know your Unique Selling Point before you start your journey. You have to know your customer and what you are offering them.
Simon: Speaking of customers, that was a big AHA moment for us. When we started focusing on their needs versus our own, that’s when the business took off. We try to tell that to anyone who listens – before you start, understand your customer.
Dynamic Business: Why do you think Slyletica has been so successful? What would you credit your success to?
Yetta: Simon and I have a saying “Be a gazelle and not an elephant”. We are prepared to move and pivot where necessary and do so quickly. We get a lot of copy cats in the industry but by the time they’ve figured out what we’re doing, our business changes to adjust with our customer’s demands. We strive to be one step ahead of the market.
Simon: It’s definitely lots of things. Having a strong team and business partner. I couldn’t do it without Yetta. Also don’t get caught up in the lows and stay focused on the highs. And lots coffee!
Dynamic Business: Where do you see your brand in the next 3-5 years? Do you envision growing your team, your product/service offering or creating a different project and brand altogether with a different venture?
Simon: We were just discussing our three-year plan today with our senior team and while I would love to give it all away, we can’t just yet. There’s definitely lots of opportunity in the USA, so we are looking at having a presence there. We also have incredible plans to expand our offering but more on that later!
Yetta: We are growing our team everyday and are always hiring. Our services are also constantly evolving based on what our customers need. With that said, our focus is to build lifestyle empires for our customers and not just fashion brands that come and go. We know that is where the market is going and we want to be at the forefront of that. It isn’t going to be easy but we love the challenge.
Simon: We also have a venture that we’re working on that will be a first of it’s kind in Australia. So stay tuned!