Stylish Dollars – Succeeding in ECommerce

Hello everybody! Welcome back to Wealth Unplugged podcast – this week I had the privilege of interviewing Sali and Julie Stevanja of the incredibly successful Stylerunner. Succeeding in eCommerce is no  easy feat, yet they have skyrocketed in just 12 months and are stocking some of the biggest names in stylish active wear.

Takeaway 1 – Start before you are ready

Sali and Julie didn’t have a full strategic plan from day 1, they did have a clear vision for what they wanted for Stylerunner though and committed to learning. Many people get caught up in the ‘how’ and use this as a way to procrastinate and never get started. Start where you are today and be prepared to learn as you go! Being ‘ready’ or ‘perfect’ doesn’t really exist.

Takeaway 2 – Budget, budget, budget!

…and budget conservatively! Cash flow needs will escalate as you grow, so you will find yourself needing to invest further back into the business. Be savvy about decisions such as big purchases or lifestyle factors and realise that reinvesting in the business may be the way to really make it grow!

Takeaway 3 – Own an excellent distribution channel

Without having a platform to effectively distribute what ever your product is, you will flounder. Sali and Julie could have taken the route of designing their own brand, but chose to create an engaged list of customers and an exceptional shopping experience for customers first. This means that customers are drawn in to Stylerunner and they have the option of later bringing on their own lines of products.

Transcriptions

Speaker 1: Want to know what successful people are doing with their money to create wealth and use it consciously for the greater good? Welcome back to Wealth Unplugged. The weekly podcast that gives you diamond tips on creating conscious wealth from change-makers, world-shakers, and wealth creators. Now here’s your host, Barbara Turley.

Barbara Turley: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to this week’s episode of Wealth Unplugged. Thanks so much for tuning in again, if you’re a regular now on the show. Of course, any newbies out there, well, hello there. I’m really glad that you found us.

This is the show where you get the low-down from the amazing guests I interview every week on my Feminine Wealth TV show. I basically distill down my key takeouts from the interviews into this nice, short, and snappy podcast, so you can just get the key strategies you need to implement and basically run with them. My aim with the show is keep it nice and short, so that you can easily fit it in while you’re cooking dinner, out for a run or walk, or God forbid, stuck in traffic.

This week on the Feminine Wealth TV show, I had a slightly stressful run, I have to admit. A multitude of things went wrong. It couldn’t have been more a worse show for things to go awry on me because I was really excited on this show. I was devastated actually, when it kind of went wrong. I had twin sisters Sali and Julie Stevanja on the show. These girls are #17 and #18 in Australia’s top 50 entrepreneurs under 40 and also listed as the top e-commerce entrepreneurs killing it in Australia. You can imagine I was just pumped for this interview.

These girls, they’re the co-founders of the supersonic success story that is Stylerunner. Stylerunner is a global multi-label retailer for the most beautiful and completely sexy activewear for women. Think names like Stella McCartney. Obviously they have Nike and Adidas. They also have names, up and comers like Jodhi Meares and the new label from her called The Upside. We were all set to do the show and unfortunately I had a slight tech malfunction and the video turned out really blurred. As you can imagine, totally devastated. I only realized after the show and I knew these girls were going to be super hard to pin down for a re-record so I was just really annoyed after the show. You don’t get to where these girls are by doubling up on doing re-records of shows like this. I just had to accept that.

There was a serious lesson for me in this whole experience of just letting go. I know that we could all do with some more of that sometimes. It’s something that I definitely need to learn more of, so it was a good exercise for me to actually let go into this experience. I decided to publish the show anyway, on schedule, this week. My loyal followers and fans, made sure that they could get the scoop. I told myself all week that it’s the content in the show that’s the gold. It’s more important to get it published than to sweat over it and completely delay. If you happened to check out the interview over at energisewealth.com, on my website, and you see it looking amazing and not blurry at all, that means, by the time you’re listening to this, I must’ve had the chance to re-record it. I thought this little anecdote would be a good lesson to share anyway, to just kick off today’s show. It also leads me to my first key takeout from my chat with Sali and Julie.

Basically, that is, start before you’re ready. Start before you’re ready. From the outside looking in, it looks like these girls have had a totally amazing, strategic plan from day one and executed it beautifully. When I asked them about this, they just laughed and admitted that they didn’t quite know the full strategic plan from day one. They just knew they had a super clear vision of what they wanted to build. They wanted to be basically the Net-a-Porter of activewear.

They also knew that as they got to each stage, and each new phase of the business, that they would figure out it. That’s what they had in the back of their minds. They would seek out the right people to help. They would do whatever research was necessary to forge ahead in direction of their vision. I just love this, because so many people get all caught up in the question of how. They have a huge vision but they can’t see how they could ever make it happen, so they don’t do anything. This leads to massive procrastination.

They resign themselves to the fact that it’s all too hard. Then get really upset when someone with way less experience and less gumption than them goes out and actually smashes it. I think we’ve all realized that we’ve had the experiences where, we’ve come up with an amazing idea. Then you do nothing about it because you can’t really figure out how. Then a year later you see a business come out with exactly the same thing and just an amazing version of it. Don’t let this be you.

Just start wherever you are right now. Just get on with it and figure it all out as you go. Just like me, with my tech issues in starting the Feminine Wealth TV show. Yes, the show’s not perfect yet. I’ve had zero experience with any of this stuff before. I’ve just gotten on with it. I’m modifying it and I’m fixing it as I go along. I’ve had sound issues. I’ve had studio issues. I’ve had guests issues. I’ve had me making mistakes. I’ve had all those things go wrong. It hasn’t stopped me putting the show up. Actually now, I’m up to episode 10 on the show. That’s an amazing feat for me. I’ve got 10 shows up on my website.

The most important thing, as I said, is to start. Stop worrying about being ready or being perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. No business is a linear line to success, even if it has the most perfect start. There’s still bumps in the road. There’s still things that are going to come up.

Interestingly, the same goes for money. So many people allow money to rule all of their decisions in life, like it’s their master, when really we should be the master of it. I’m not saying that means that you go out and buy the Maserati and to hell with not having the money. No, no. You have to be more strategic than that. This is about saying, I have a vision. You have to find a way to create the money you need, to fuel your vision. Don’t stop at just, I have a vision and don’t know how. I don’t have the money. I’m just saying, never let that old excuse of, I don’t have the money, stand in the way of your dreams. Think about the other resources you have like time, energy, and passion. Those are extremely powerful when harnessed in the right way. I can guarantee you, the interesting thing is, you also have the money. It’s just hidden deep in your current lifestyle habits.

If you come and do my get savvy training program with me, I’ll show you how to hunt out what’s called, the hidden money. This is the money that is buried in your lifestyle, which is stopping you from achieving your dreams. Jump on over to my website, energisewealth.com, and sign up to my mailing list, so you’re the first to hear about the upcoming launch of that program. I’ll teach you lots more in there, that’s just one of the steps.

This money topic brings me to my next key takeout, from the girls, from Sali and Julie. Obviously, I was super keen to get into the whole money question with them. I mean, everyone is always wondering, how startups effectively manage the business cash flow needs with the founder’s own personal cash flow needs. You can imagine what that’s like. You know, trying to juggle two things when there’s no money at all. As Sali and Julie both stressed when I asked them this question, they just said, “Budget, budget, budget.” It’s the only way, and you have to budget conservatively. This is so important. It’s a point that I know I’ve stressed on this podcast before. I don’t mind bringing it up again because again, it’s the thing that really trips people up, is a lack of good budgeting and running out of money too early.

As the Stylerunner business started to grow and gather pace, the cash flow needs also escalated. The girls needed to invest more and more back into the business to actually capitalize on the momentum that they had. They were delighted that they’d made the decision to not have any big expenses until the business was really on its feet. Now, that meant for them, no buying houses and getting saddled with massive mortgages. Hallelujah! Finally, someone has said it. Or having lavish lifestyles and spending all the money that was flooding into the business on themselves. Again, a lot of people make this mistake. They start to make some money, they get really, really excited. Then they start spending and increasing their lifestyle. When maybe the business is not yet truly off its training wheels. It might look like that but it takes a while to actually get there. Be really savvy and just budget conservatively.

That these girls, Sali and Julie Stevanja, they are savvy as hell. They fully recognize the importance of investing in your cash machine first and foremost, before you start upgrading your lifestyle and your other assets. Again, this is a key thing I’ve stressed in my get savvy training program. I actually teach people how to do this and how to make sure that you’re not blowing things up along the way, if that’s how you’d like to put it.

Initially, I suppose the girls were in a lucky position, because they actually had capital in the form of their own personal savings to get the business started in the beginning. I know a lot of people don’t have that and that can be really discouraging. The girls said that, what they’ve learned on this whole journey, is that it’s something so many business owners actually don’t realize. They said that even if they didn’t have the money early on, they would’ve gone out and pitched their idea to investors and found the money.

Money is out there. It’s out there for everyone. It’s hungry to find ideas to work on. Contrary to what most people think, money is actually the completely abundant resource. It’s not the scarce one. The scarce resource, on the other hand, are good ideas. Good ideas are absolutely the scarcity, money is the abundant resource. If you have a big idea, a clear vision for how it’s going to work, why it’s different, and you can articulate that with passion and conviction, I am telling you now, there is money out there for you. Don’t let money stop you.

In fact, actually, you’ll probably interested if you’re interested in this point. In a few weeks time, on the Feminine Wealth TV show, I’m going to be interviewing a lady called Laura McKenzie, and she’s the CEO of the Scale Investor Network, which is the first all female angel investor network in Australia. We’re going to be delving right into this whole topic of raising angel capital, seed capital, particularly for women. I reckon that’s the show that you don’t want to miss if this is an area that you are interested in.

That brings to my third and final key takeout for today. Although, I must admit, as usual, I literally could’ve had 10 key takeouts from this show. Really, if you can get a chance to go back and watch the whole show over on energisewealth.com, please do, it’s episode 10.

My final key takeout from Sali and Julie Stevanja is one of my favorites, leverage. Again, I know I talk about this on the show quite a lot, so I really was excited to bring it up yet again. I asked the girls, why they chose the business model that they did. Now, the business model they chose is the distribution model. It’s a reseller of multiple brands. Rather than designing their own activewear, like for example, the business models of Lorna Jane and Lululemon, they decided that they would go the multiple brand distribution model.

For me, this answer was gold, because in my opinion, the importance of owning the distribution platform is not to be underestimated. Once you have a big distribution platform, it’s easier to then launch your own product and sell it down that channel later. In a cut-throat, competitive market, like retail, which is what the girls are in, it’s really hard to be an up and comer. Everyone wants to be a designer. Really, where is the early money? The early money is very hard to make as a designer because you need distribution. The money is in distribution.

This reminded me of the time I’ve spent working the asset management industry. There’s so many great fund managers out there, with a great story to tell, about how they can make money for investors. Really, without someone to go out and actually bring in the money, it’s really hard to fill up a fund. Obviously, you’re looking to get money in, so the fund manager can then invest that money. Great funds management is one thing, but distribution, now that became the best and most lucrative game in town in asset management, particularly in the last five years, post the financial crisis world. Where everyone was scrambling for money and running around looking to fill up their funds. Distribution was key.

It’s why everyone out there, at the moment, is looking to build big online communities today or tribes, as Seth Godin loves to call them. Everyone wants to create community, a following, an email list. Have you ever heard the saying, “The money is in the list”? Well, that’s at least half true. The money is definitely in the list but bigger money is in an engaged list. Now, what do I mean by an engaged list? Let me go back again to Julie and Sali, and what they’ve managed to do.

They’ve managed to create a huge following, which is their distribution platform, by offering multiple brands. The trick to their success, I think really, is that they’ve managed to make that a highly engaged list of people, by making sure that the customer experience is front of mind for their business in all their planning. They’ve created a shopping experience that their customers absolutely love and it sees customers coming back for more, almost like a cult.

The other thing they do exceptionally well, is all of their branding, their marketing, the pictures on their website, the whole look and feel, that adds to the experience, it’s all really appealing to the kind of emotional drivers that make us buy the activewear that they’re selling. It really draws us in. It’s not about people sitting on their list. It’s about people being really engaged with what the girls, and what Stylerunner, are really about and what they’re trying to achieve.

Do you think with this kind of a strategy, they’ll be able to successfully launch their own line of products one day? I can tell you now, that they absolutely will. They’ve managed to build a following first. I’m sure, I’m sure down the track, that they will be putting products of their own down those distribution channels. If they’re not, they should be thinking about it.

I really want you all to think this week about what you might’ve learned from these key takeouts. These are brilliant takeouts from a business, honestly Stylerunner, has only been running for 18 months and they have absolutely smashed it. They’ve got the whole thing right. They’re in the U.S. right now. They’re looking at launching a distribution office over in L.A. How exciting would that be for a business that’s only 18 months old? This is fantastic. You can really learn from the takeouts from these two girls.

That’s it for this week. As always, if you enjoyed today’s show, I would love to hear about it in the comments below or if you’re over on the Energise Wealth blog, at energisewealth.com, drop me a comment there. Or you can also send me a quick email through the blog and through the website. Love to hear from you.

I particularly like to hear from you if you have a startup business that has gone into supersonic mode. Like you almost can’t believe how fast it’s grown and you’re sort of scrambling to try to keep it all together. Drop me a line through energisewealth.com over on the website and let me know if you would like to come on the Feminine Wealth TV show to talk about what’s been happening for you. Just think about that beautiful giving back experience to the community out there that would be for you. You know, this is a community for you to share in and grow in. If you keep the comments coming, you’ll inspire a whole host of other people out there.

If you’re game enough as well, why don’t you join my Twitter chat? Which is on every Monday, 1 p.m. Sydney, Australia time. You can follow that using the hashtag #wealthunplugged. You join in the conversation, you can jump in and ask questions. Or if any of my guests have been on the show, some of them do jump on there too. We’ve just kicked that off so next Monday, if you’re offshore as well, just look up the hashtag #wealthunplugged and you can follow the conversation there.

Remember, come back next week. If you tune in next week, I’m going to be talking about the dos and don’ts of creating an epic blog with a huge following. That’s coming from the fairly blog-mother herself, Jane Copeland from Jane Copeland Media. Tune in next week and I look forward to seeing you then.

Speaker 1: Thanks for tuning in. Come and join us on energisewealth.com to continue the conversation. Get your free video training, Seven Steps to Energise Wealth and watch the video interviews that were the inspiration behind this episode.

I’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch either in the comments below or contact me on social media…



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