A brand born from rejection, persistence and good technology

The accessories market is crowded, and for a new brand to get in front of retailers takes persistence. If you're selling online, you also need to make sure you've got technology on your side.

When Marina Tokarski and Gus Agra first started planning their range of bags and accessories, they had no connections in the retail or fashion industry.

Less than a year after officially launching their label, Von Röutte is already carried on The Iconic website, and in a handful of high-end boutiques.

While it’s an impressive achievement for any new brand, they say they've faced no shortage of rejection along the way.

"Initially, we sent thousands and thousands of emails, a few awkward calls," Marina says.

"We received like four or five ‘no's," Gus adds. "But with each one of those 'no's' we also received good feedback. For example, they say they don’t like the feel of the leather, they don’t like stitching. This way we could improve the product."

When The Iconic finally signed on to carry their bags and wallets, it was one of their biggest wins. They say the online shop has helped establish their brand's credibility, and driven sales.

“It took almost six months for us to finish and sign the contracts with them. They also needed to know - because we were a new, small company – we were prepared to deal with The Iconic because they do get high volumes of visits.”

Von-Röutte's bags are also sold in boutiques in Sydney, London and New York.
Von-Röutte's bags are also sold in boutiques in Sydney, London and New York.

Seamless Software

With 60 percent of their sales now coming through online orders, having an integrated back-end has been critical to Von Röutte’s success.

“At the beginning, we had absolutely no idea where to start with our software and we went to our accountant and said, ‘how can we build a system?’ He said to do everything on the cloud,” Gus explains. “Then he recommended for accounting, Xero; for inventory control, Unleashed - and we built from there.”

When a sale is made, all the platforms now communicate with each other - something Gus says is especially helpful when you're dealing with products manufactured overseas.

"Every time you bring to Australia, the cost of the product will vary because of the currency or because of the cost of shipping - so if we have a sale on The Ionic, we can know exactly the price of that product when it landed in Australia, and then Xero identifies for us what our margins were in that case."

With the business growing (they recently hired their first employee), Gus and Marina are projecting a profit within the next six months.

Their advice to other businesses? Be persistent.

"Marina and I we were really upset in beginning  how many stores were saying no -  and you start even questioning yourself, if your collection is good enough. But it is. You need to give the buyers time to think about your product. That’s why you have to be persistent."

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Source: SBS Small Business Secrets