Danny Bond, Brodie Brown and Thomas Williamson grew up together in sun-soaked Perth. More than a decade and a half later, the trio are bringing a fresh perspective to summer footwear in Australia.
The budding entrepreneurs spent most of their time after university travelling and working in the corporate world. Upon returning home in their late 20s, they wanted to start their own business. Bond said, “We had to do something more creative, with more control and much more fun.”
Envoy Australia did just that. The line of handmade men’s shoes are an innovative take on Australian footwear and their collection recently launched in David Jones.
In the company’s first season they were the best selling men’s shoes over the summer in a number of leading boutiques.
“Our focus is on design, quality and comfort – and tight marketing,” Brown said.
“This first design, which we called the Marlin, is a handmade, breathable and very high quality shoe. The materials are expensive and first-rate. We went crazy on colour and it’s currently available in 14 colours.”
They chose the arduous yet enjoyable task of designing their casual summer shoes from scratch, right down to the specifics.
“It’s very easy to create a shoe label if you want to pick an existing style off the shelf, and put your own name on it. We’ve chosen not to do that with Envoy and do everything from scratch, and it’s very obvious to anyone with an eye for quality,” Brown told Dynamic Business.
Their quirky advertising strategy has also captured a lot of attention.
“People get a good laugh out of our slightly wacky imagery and messages, which is a positive. This humour is a key aspect of our branding angle and allows us, as business guys, to have fun at the same time,” Brown confessed.
Besides having fun, the gents found that starting a business involved many steep learning curves.
“Our biggest challenge is staying on top of all the different areas of the business, particularly since we are new to a lot of them,” Williamson said.
“One minute we’re in David Jones, introducing the brand and product to staff, the next we are in China on a production line, then doing forecasts or writing a marketing plan.”
“There’s a lot to learn in a very short space of time,” he continued.
Besides expanding in Australia, the entrepreneurs have their sights set on the States.
“We’re aiming to get into the US, so our minds are focused on the best way to do that, and do it properly,” they said.
What is their advice to other start-ups?
“Stop thinking about it and get to work. The biggest risk is losing time and being beaten to it by someone else,” Williamson said.
“You have to be exploring ideas, research them, take some action and do it quickly and well to establish an advantage. Build a support network that can be around while you grow and thank them a lot if, and when, you succeed!”