After letting loose on the world of e-commerce fashion amidst a rapid scale-up and ambitious warehouse upgrade, LSKD founder Jason Daniel has won the 2021 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Accepting the honour last night at JW Marriott, the entrepreneur was up against a competitive and vibrant group of peers who have achieved success across a variety of industries, from tech to health, hospitality to marketing, and more.
More than a decade after founding an earlier iteration of his fashion brand centred around "functional sportswear with a street aesthetic", in 2018 Daniel started to shift away from the company's wholesale model and made a concerted push into online sales.
Thus the 'LSKD' rebrand was born, which stands for "loose kid", and from a growth perspective the company has run wild ever since with its engaged community of customers drawn to the group's products and motto of #chasethevibe.
"We used to be predominantly wholesale with an e-comm brand, but we actually transitioned to being purely e-commerce because we knew we could talk to our community directly," Daniel tells Business News Australia.
"It just so happened we were already growing at a really rapid rate in 2019 online, and then COVID hit so it was a little bit of right place at the right time," he says.
"We’re very thankful we’re direct online, so our margin is a lot higher than selling at a wholesale."
A combination of strong growth and margins have put LSKD in a position to build a new 4,000sqm headquarters in Logan that is due for completion by the end of the year, with the warehouse soon to be operational following a massive recruitment drive to boost staff numbers to 300 ahead of the Black Friday sales rush.
"We’re going to have a retail shop and a gym for our team to train as well, which means we can train together as a team which is great for culture. We can sweat together because we are a sportswear company at the same time," says Daniel, whose company remains based in Stapylton until the final move is made to Logan, his hometown.
"We’ve invested well over $1 million into the facility ourselves between the retail shop, gym, infrastructure into the warehouse with tech and everything that is being built in there to fulfill, and 800 square metres of mezzanine floors going in.
"The power of e-commerce is amazing to allow us to invest in growing the team and their careers as well to reach those economies of scale."
The Moto-X racing enthusiast was once poised to compete in international competitions, but those dreams were dashed by injury, ultimately leading Daniel into the world of business with humble beginnings producing T-shirts and caps to sell at local race events.
The 'loose kid' from Logan has come far since then, ramping up LSKD's infrastructure with plans for an aggressive expansion next year in the US, where the group already has staff and an online store.
"As LSKD continues to grow we have huge aspirations to take on a firmer grasp of the global market," he says.
"We have invested heavily in developing our infrastructure to support a global business and the next market we are challenging is in USA."
Young Entrepreneur Awards and Business News Australia founder Camilla Jansen says Jason Daniel exhibits all the traits of a great entrepreneur, with his infectious energy and optimism combining with business skill to lead his team and make careful, significant decisions that have set LSKD on the path to greatness.
She also notes the entrepreneur's leadership in terms of sustainability and social responsibility, such as the wide-reaching Project Earth initiative including projects to use biodegradable bags and recycled materials in garments. LSKD is also a proud supporter of its charity of choice, Cystic Fibrosis Queensland.
Jason Daniel's win is emblematic of how well the fashion industry is stitched into the colourful fabric of Gold Coast business, while other industries that are always highly represented include food and beverage which had one of the most hotly contested fields to date in 2021.
The awards founder emphasises the calibre of the Gold Coast entrepreneurs this year was outstanding, and it is also noteworthy that so many have started their enterprises recently.
"Close to one in five nominees for the awards founded a business in 2020 or later, including entrepreneurs who had existing companies but branched out into new ventures and verticals as well during the pandemic," she says.
"To found a business in times like these takes courage and confidence, but that is exactly the kind of attitude we love to see."
Jansen says the Gold Coast cohort of young entrepreneurs is exciting and highly accomplished, with a strong cultural bent and companies that are making their mark nationwide and, in some cases, internationally.
"I'm reluctant to name drop because all the finalists are so amazing and we're happy to connect with them and hear their inspiring stories," she says.
"But as a female founder myself, one thing I want to highlight is the level of female entrepreneurship on the Gold Coast where this is a strong and welcoming community, which gives us great hope that gender equality will become a non-issue in the future because it will become so widespread. You can see the green shoots so clearly - here we're able to present a talented group of role models.
All winners at the 2021 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur Awards
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Jason Daniel (LSKD Pty Ltd)
- Trailblazer of the Year - Kane Sajdak (Homeguardian.ai)
- Arts & Culture - Michael Huxley (Huxley Group, MCH Capital)
- Digital Disruptor - James Greig (iVvy, Wildflower Gin, Bloomtools)
- Fashion & Design - Jason Daniel (LSKD Pty Ltd)
- Finance - Kris Simmons & Simon Livingstone (Simmons Livingstone & Associates)
- Fitness - Tammy Hembrow (Saski Collection, Tammy Fit)
- Food & Beverage - Mike Kellett (Macro Mike, Macro Manufacturing, Macro Gym)
- Health & Medicine - Kristie Baird (Drip IV Australia, Mode Medical)
- Hospitality & Tourism - Dayna Cooper (The Jefferson Restaurant Group, Orzo, Social Eating House and Bar, Gypsy Social)
- Manufacturing, Wholesale and Distribution - Tim Dawson (Lauxes Grates, Lauxes Products, Lauxes International)
- Marketing - Jon Hollenberg (Five by Five Web Design)
- PR, Media & Events - Jacob Ritchie (Two Birds Social, Poly Studios & North Productions)
- Property & Construction - Jake Robinson & Mark Deacon (Superdraft)
- Retail & Services - Emilly Hankin (Emilly Hadrill Hair)
- Specialist Services - Jared Ooi & Tim McKay (Maco Electrics)
- Startup - Jarrad Bell, Michael Sebire & Jeremy Davidson (Mr Consistent)
- Professional Services - Hayden McEvoy (A Team Tuition Pty Ltd)
- Technology - James Gilmour (Gilmour Space)
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