20 May 2010

From Unemployed to Global Brand Name

When is it an asset to be an Aussie ‘bum’? When you are Sean Ashby, co-founder of the aussieBum brand.

It was one contemplative afternoon whilst Sean Ashby sat on Bondi Beach that he decided to put his redundancy payout to good use by becoming not just any Aussie bum, but THE Aussie bum. Every summer Sean and his co-founder Guy Holland would buy the traditional Aussie cossie, however in 2001 they discovered that Speedo was no longer making this swimwear.

Sean had no background in retail, fashion or clothing, however he knew there was a market out there because he had been looking for it! He was his own customer.

Sean saw a market, had 300 garments made and started door knocking. He soon realised it was not going to be easy selling something that was Australian made to an Australian retailer. He was rejected by the two major retailers in Australia: David Jones and Myer. So Sean did what any sane Aussie who had had a red flag waved at him would do.

He went eCommerce and he went global.

The aussieBum brand is now on sale in 75 countries around the world with a turnover of more than $22 million. You can find the brand in department stores such as Selfridges (UK), House of Fraser (UK), Harvey Nichols (UK and Dubai UAE), Ka Da We (Germany), Printemps (France) and Sebu (Hong Kong). But you still won’t find the brand in David Jones or Myer, although these days that is Ashby’s choice…

Ashby is fierce when it comes to producing a product that is proudly 100% made and manufactured here in Australia. “We choose to manufacture here in Australia. I will not compromise on the integrity of this brand – quality, comfort and innovation are the foundations of aussieBum. I am proud that we take the values of not only aussieBum, but Australia, to the world.”

We asked Sean what advice he had for up and coming entrepreneurs:

Never do something you don’t believe in. Because those that really matter will not believe in you either.

Never lie. Be honest and loyal to those who have supported your growth. Never forget where you came from. And never forget who puts the dollars into your pockets.

Have more passion for your business than you ever thought was possible.

Get plenty of sleep. For the first four years it was 18 hour days and I slept on a couch.

Don’t think there’s a bigger opportunity around the corner. Focus on the present and get the maximum from every step you take.

You need to understand every facet of your business. If you don’t, those areas will become your liabilities.

Laugh and really enjoy the people you work with. I can’t stress this enough. They are the most important people in your world.

Think big – be proud of your heritage and use every tool at your disposal to make your dreams come true.

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