Despite a difficult few months for everyday wares outfit The Somewhere Co. (TSC), which had to contend with navigating warehouse moves, stock delays and opening two new stores, the business managed to exceed expectations and grow its revenue over the past year by 95 per cent.
The omnichannel retailer, derived from the amalgamation of TSC founder Ellen Powell’s e-commerce stationery brand Blushing Confetti and children’s brand Livvy + Harry, sells colourful prints and crafts practical, bold and functional cooler bags, picnic rugs, lunch satchels and water bottles.
After changing tack from its initial online-only store model, the Brisbane-headquartered business has gone from strength to strength after opening three brick-and-mortar stores in Indooroopilly (QLD), Melbourne Central (VIC), and a “poster child” store in Karrinyup (WA) in the past 24 months.
The company aims to build on its success by expanding its existing US footprint; the brand is already stocked in major US retailers, including Food52, Bloomingdales and Free People, and recently appointed ex-S’well general manager Michelle Nielsen to lead its international expansion.
“After what was a pretty hectic growth spike for us during 2021, we knew we needed to continue that growth with international expansion. We’ve been wholesaling into the US for quite some time, and it has been relatively successful with us being stocked in some of the largest department stores in the world,” The Somewhere Co CEO and founder Ellen Powell told Business News Australia.
“However, we have been unable to give our expansion plans as much focus as we would have loved to, with Australia being the main focus up until now.
“With Michelle on board, not only will we benefit from her knowledge and experience, but it means the international expansion can steam ahead.”
Before moving to Australia, Nielsen was appointed S’well’s first member of staff in its UK branch, where she grew and managed the international office of the water bottle giant and established strong brand partnerships with Soho House, BBC Earth/David Attenborough, Liberty London and Smythson.
The appointment of Nielsen doesn’t change the short or medium-term objectives of the business, which remains to increase its international presence through wholesale relationships and corporate partnerships but will result in a change in Powell’s focus.
“We are currently expanding all senior roles in the business, and this means that I can focus more on the strategic vision of the business,” the 2021 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards finalist said.
“It also means my team gets the best version of myself. I won’t sugar coat it; the last six months have been difficult as we navigated warehouse moves, stock and logistics delays, new store openings, and so much more that required me to have a hand in everything.
“Now, with all the processes and new hires we have worked so hard towards, there is no need for me to be so heavily involved in so much of the business.”
Having suffered from the global supply chain issues alongside many other Australian companies, Powell is thankful the business isn’t held hostage to seasonal fashion trends and strict sales cycles like fashion businesses.
“While we do have our own sales cycles and our product is somewhat seasonal, if our stock is delayed, we just delay the release. We have, however, found our manufacturing and logistics have levelled out, and we aren’t seeing as drastic delays anymore,” Powell said.
The business continues to support and work with a mixture of homegrown and in-house designers and artists, collaborating with an Australian and an American artist for its forthcoming spring and summer seasons.
With supplementary regions in its sights, the brand will be appointing additional pivotal roles to take its international expansion to the next level as it looks to enter its next chapter of business growth.
With interest rates rising, and the cost-of-living increasing from global inflationary factors, Powell isn’t quite sure whether Australians have seen the full effects just yet.
“The cost of living has risen, but people’s desire for adventure and travel has also equalled this rise,” she said.
“How many people do you know are taking weekend trips, overseas getaways and prioritising weekends outdoors? Plenty! People will give up their avocados on toast for getting out and adventuring after COVID-19.”
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