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HomeFEATURESSustainable fashion brand talks retail strategy

Sustainable fashion brand talks retail strategy

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of a group of extremely credible sustainable fashion businesses such as Kowtow and Allbirds, making sustainability their core focus. Boody is the latest addition to this growing group with their unique business and brand story, founded on layers of business success and a true understanding of the future of fashion and sustainable business. 

Boody was founded in 2012 by Neil Midalia and David Greenblo, two friends with a collective passion to design better basics. Neil and David were joined by their sons Elliot and Shaun in 2018, seeing Boody become a family business and, encouraged by Elliot and Shaun’s growth mindset, expand to a global scale.

Now sold in 17 countries, Boody creates everyday essentials in a softer fabric with a comfier fit, all while championing sustainable business and product.  

Elliot and Shaun both have strong credentials in fashion and business: Elliot helped launch major online clothing retailer The Iconic in Australia, and Shaun is part of the Thread Together advisory board (a charity that partners with fashion brands to redirect clothes to people in need) and former Canva business development and partnership executive.  

In New Zealand, Boody sits in a unique area of retail, with its portfolio of stockists exclusively being pharmacies.

Shaun and Elliot sit down with me to talk through the retail aspect of their business and how this unique placement in pharmacies has contributed to their local growth – especially in the last year.

How did the idea for Boody come about?

Boody was born from a collective passion, drive and demand for a simpler wardrobe made from sustainable fabrics that supported the everyday lifestyle.

This passion saw two friends, David and Neil, on a journey to simply design better basics; both bringing their experience in fashion and pharmacy together to force sustainable change.

Today, Boody is made up of a team of sustainable changemakers, including us – David and Neils sons. Our team all work to not just deliver a product that’s better for the planet but we also use Boody as a platform to be real, transparent, open and honest – we owe it to the planet to be better.

Our mission is to “champion a future fit for all”, so we emphasise quality, simplicity and sustainability in everything we do. We bypass trends and fads as we believe they lead to overconsumption and waste. Everything we create is made to make our community feel good. And that leads us to deliver soft, simple and sustainable essentials that are good for you and the planet.

Why did you decide to launch an NZ online store? And how has it been received so far?

We’ve always had an offline presence in New Zealand and we were already seeing demand on our Australian website from New Zealand based customers. Rather than forcing Boody fans in NZ to use our Australian site, we wanted to connect and speak to them directly through a dedicated NZ store. This allows us to localise our content, adjust our communications for the NZ culture, and have pricing set in New Zealand dollars rather than be pegged to the Aussie dollar.

We’re so excited to see the traction so far on Boody NZ. Our NZ customers are loving the new dedicated site illustrated by growth surpassing Australia. Last quarter we were 200% up year-on-year and we’re currently growing 20% quarter-on-quarter. We hope to grow our presence in NZ and make our soft, simple and sustainable eco essentials a household name.

Why is sustainable fashion important to you?

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world and one of the largest consumers of water on the planet. As we become more aware of the significant and deeply consequential impacts the fashion industry is having on our environment, a change in our consumerist-driven ways is well overdue.

At Boody, we put sustainable thinking at the center of everything we do. It inspires us to constantly innovate while keeping people and the planet top of mind. We know bamboo is a more sustainable material. That’s why we have used it from day one. As the most resource efficient plant on earth, bamboo is naturally organic and doesn’t require chemicals to enhance its growth. Bamboo is our choice for health, comfort and sustainability. Boody emphasises quality and simplicity. We bypass trends and fads as we believe they lead to overconsumption and waste.

Sustainability should be important to everyone. We’re simply ensuring that there is an eco alternative to everyday essentials that is good for both the people and the planet. Sustainability is a journey – not a destination. We need to keep learning, researching, asking and challenging. It’s never too late to make the eco move and join us on the journey.

What made you join your fathers’ business?

We both chose to join the business simply because we saw an opportunity. We both joined at different times and not because we had to but because we wanted to. We’re passionate about offering a more sustainable option for your everyday essentials and wanted to bring our own individual skills to complement the business. Shaun’s expertise lies in operations and technology. My skills (Elliot) is marketing and ecommerce.

We value the diverse experience our fathers bring to the table, which combined with our growth mindset, love of technology and collective hunger for changing the world for the better are building a world-class brand.

We still operate as a family-owned and run business and these ethos filters into our culture and our people. Together, with an amazing team of sustainable changemakers, we are championing a future fit for all, one sustainable essential at a time.

I notice many if not all of your stockists in NZ are pharmacies. What was behind the decision to retail Boody in New Zealand via pharmacies?

Pharmacy is where Boody was born and naturally, is where we started in New Zealand. Pharmacy is a key channel for us and our competitive advantage. Pharmacies are an essential store, so it seems fitting that our sustainable essentials are found there too. In fact, it is crazy to think that prior to Boody being in health food stores and pharmacies, one couldn’t find a key essential, that being underwear, in an essential store.

You will find Boody on a four-sided stand with all your essentials including underwear, socks and crew neck tees, all made in our signature and sustainable organically grown bamboo and in our core basic colours including black and white.

What challenges have you had with bringing Boody to the NZ market?

Firstly, the physical distance has been a challenge for us as a team. With the pandemic and the obvious inability to travel, we weren’t able to check in on our stockists and see how they are going, introduce ourselves and connect and network. This also meant that finding the right distributors for the brand, a huge challenge as you relied on ‘screen time’ to get to know one another and assess if the right fit. But with challenges comes learning and we’re glad to say that we have found some great new agents to represent our brand in New Zealand who we’re all super excited about and think are a great fit.

What are your future plans for the brand?

Sustainability has always been a core pillar at Boody, embedded in our product philosophy and evident in our social and environmental initiatives. We’re currently working on an Impact Strategy and Roadmap that aims to support Boody in the next phase of our impact journey, beyond ‘uncoordinated action’ and towards strategic alignment and full transparency across our entire business operations by 2025. Our aim is to equip all stakeholders with the knowledge, tools and structure to embed environmental and social decision-making into all functions of the business with the aim to initially reduce Boody’s overall impact and eventually become impact positive. A number of targets have been set for 2025 and over the coming four years Boody will report annually against each focus area.

Our future plans see us growing and expanding, connecting with the global customer and developing  purposeful connections. We’ll be offering the best in class product – introducing new styles that fit into your everyday essential wardrobe and will be utilising technology, data and innovation to become a fash-tech leader. We’re on a journey – and we’re just getting started.

What do you think are some of the misconceptions about sustainable and ethical fashion and how do you address them?

We’re all about mindful manufacturing and take a holistic approach to sustainability. At Boody, we work towards making the future of fashion more sustainable by ensuring that all the processes are done in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We always partner with factories that produce garments more ethically. We look for certifications like GOTS, Ecocert, ISO 14001 and ISO 900. The fashion and textile industry is the second most polluting industry globally and the impacts of toxic chemicals in the production of textiles is significant across all fibre groups. Our aim is to partner only with suppliers and mills who maintain the highest environmental standards and work towards full transparency across the entire supply chain.

For us it’s also about supporting environmental initiatives. We’re a certified 1% for the planet member which means that we dedicate 1% of every online sales to environmental causes.

Again, our impact report and roadmap will be a key documentation and company wide vision to ensure that we are true to our mission, our values and build a transparent conversation with our community.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to as a business?

Our biggest to date is that investing in people is our single and greatest asset. Our people are everything. We are a family business, literally, but we extend that to our team and the way we operate Boody. Our people, and in turn our community inspire leadership, inspire us to champion great things, inspire us to innovate and make bold moves. This advice was given to us and has been our winning formula to date.

We have established core values at Boody, and make every decision, big or small, through the lens of those core values. These values are high-spirited, driven, caring and considered, so whether we’re hiring, creating a product, partnering with a vendor or developing a strategy, we assess our decisions against these core values.

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