Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week: men’s clothing subscription company Asuwere.
Dollar Shave Club, My Food Bag, Xero – subscription businesses pop up in many areas of life because they make for great business.
Asuwere is a clothing subscription service for men that provides elevated wardrobe essentials for men: tees, linen shirts and shorts in the summer, and jackets and cashmere cotton sweaters during the colder months.
The idea comes from two brothers with the credentials, Sam and Noah Hickey, who hail from fashion and subscription business backgrounds. Sam was a stellar designer for Huffer straight out of uni, and Noah, an All White and business leader, played a key role in the huge growth of PushPay.
To talk the insight, the journey and getting men to trust them, Noah and Sam join us now.
After you did your pop-ups and got your customers, what made you think you needed to have something every month for them?
Sam: [I think] what enabled us was we sold I think about 400 shirts in the first month and that’s a pretty amazing customer base. And then having that customer base it really enabled us to start asking them questions.
Noah: Yeah and we sold nearly a third of those in the first two days, which was to friends and word of mouth. Then it came down straight away to just a little hangout pop-up that we had. So a third of them were gone and instead of going ‘great we’re gonna make more, everything’s gonna be amazing’ it was actually the last thing we did. We said ‘well, what do all these people want?’ Because they were all talking about different things over the night, so let’s just find out their problems and really know our customer. That’s one thing that my time in software has taught me in a big way: know your customer and fall in love with the problem, don’t fall in love with the solution.
And what was the problem you were solving for them?
Noah: We worked out pretty quickly that we didn’t know exactly what the problem was, and that we had to then go out to our database. Our database was sort of 56% people we didn’t know, found through Viva and other publications that Samie managed to get us in which was great. So we went out and just spoke to them, didn’t we?
Sam: Yeah, I asked them all sorts of questions like ‘what’s missing for your wardrobe?’, ‘what don’t you like about shopping?’ and the feedback was kind of incredible.
Noah: Well people said they just hate shopping and if you google ‘men hate’ shopping comes up first, we thought that was an interesting stat. There must be some serious data behind that if it’s coming up all the time.
Environmental Innovation is the focus for this year’s C-Prize challenge – Callaghan Innovation is asking innovators to develop tech solutions with the power to change environmental outcomes. Business advice, mentoring and R&D expertise will support finalists to turn their concepts into reality. Follow the C-Prize journey.
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