Q&A: Taking the anxiety out of designing a successful business

This week we talk Will Sked, founder of Status Anxiety, a business that started in 2004 as a small leather goods brand that has seen significant expansion both domestically and internationally.

ISB: How did you go about turning your idea for a men’s wallet into a business?

WS: We took a pretty simplistic approach at the outset, focusing on getting the product right – using nice leather and finishing our products well, and in the right colours. Once we had that and a few logistics in place like pricing, shipping etc., it was about getting the product in front of the right people. This literally involved visiting all the stores we wanted the brand to be in and showing them. Somewhat to our surprise, most of them picked it up and we were in business.

ISB: You had great initial success with a simple, single design – what do you think is the secret to that success?

WS: I think it was a case of right product at the right time for the right customers. When we looked for a wallet for ourselves at the time there really was only surf brands or more mature brands in department stores. We found a gap in providing an alternative that fitted in contemporary multi-brand fashion boutiques.

ISB: What was your strategy for sustaining the organic growth of the business after your initial product went down so well?

WS: To continue to allow the inherent strength of the product to drive growth. To this day I believe the same fundamentals are at play – beautifully designed, minimalist leather goods constructed of high-quality materials at a compelling price point.

ISB: Where is your marketing budget focused in terms of both attracting online customers, and getting foot traffic into your bricks-and-mortar stores?

WS: With our target demographic being young females we focus a lot of our time, effort and budget on building our social-media networks to attract them as customers, as well as building loyalty to retain our existing customers. We’re a very visual based brand so Instagram is a great platform for us and currently our largest social network.

Google is also a big one for us – it’s so often the start of the purchasing funnel so it’s important to be there for potential customers who are searching for us without even knowing it. We’ve taken the time to optimise our products for organic search but have also invested in identifying keywords that work for us to grow our customer base while still seeing ROI. We’re not done yet though – it’s always changing and growing so we’re constantly reassessing where we’re sitting, how users are searching and adjusting from there.

ISB: Where do you see the business developing in the next few years?

WS: We have four main areas of focus in the next few years:

  1. Direct sales: Driving sales through our website by continually improving the customer experience (we’re working on new mobile-first website as mobile now represents almost 70 per cent of all site traffic).
  2. Retail: Expanding branded stores (two opened in the last 12 months) in Australia so customers can experience the brand as we would like to showcase it.
  3. Wholesale: Strategically developing and leveraging our existing boutique wholesale business (approximately 600 independent stores) by ensuring the best collection range, visual merchandising, positioning in-store, marketing collaborations etc.
  4. Global markets: Working with existing and regional partners to expand the footprint of the brand globally. We have just set up a team based in New York to grow the business in North America.

ISB: Lastly, what lessons can you share to others who may be thinking about turning their idea into a business?

WS: Ensure the business is scalable (not direct return on hours input) and that you can test the idea without putting your life savings on the line. Once tested, organically growing at a pace that is sustainable and that sees you still around (and still sane) in a few years’ time. Discipline yourself to prioritise doing the most important things first – even if you don’t like doing them that much. The things you love doing in your business will be easy to make the time for!

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