Close
 

The future is bright: George and Willy

  • News
  • July 25, 2017
  • Caitlin Salter
The future is bright: George and Willy

In this series Caitlin Salter talks to two retailers in their twenties about what drove them to start their businesses, George and Willy, and how the ideas of the young can revitalise New Zealand’s retail industry. 

A cut above

Sometimes businesses just fall into place, as the founders of Mt Maunganui-based company George & Willy discovered. Will McCallum, 26, and his friend and business partner George Wilkins, 25, started designing and building homeware products in their parents’ sheds for a bit of fun.

When they realised they had no set plans for the future, the idea to turn their backyard hobby into a business popped up.

Four years on, George & Willy is based in its own workshop, and sells attractive and functional items all over the world, often to retail stores. Their biggest product is George & Willy’s brown paper rollers, which are distributed throughout the United States to commercial outfits such as cafes as well as in private homes.

Will McCallum explains they got lucky with their gap in the market. 

How do you balance tradition in the industry with new ideas?

We started straight out of university and because we had no experience, we didn’t know what the traditions were. One way we are different from a traditional retailer is that we’ve never had a store - we keep it all online. It’s good as it allows us to sell all over the world. With 65 percent of our sales being exports, we couldn’t do a lot of what we do with a bricks and mortar shop.

What drove you to start your business?

We just started making things together, including a swing which we thought was cool to give away as Christmas presents. Because we had no plans after university we just kept it going.  I studied design and marketing and George did management and design, but we both minored in design, which is useful because the business study is the really helpful thing. I don’t think it would work if we were both designers.

Do you think your age and perspective have contributed to the business’ success?

We’ve got a young crew - I’m the oldest at 26. Everyone is pretty up-to-date and digital savvy. We’ve mastered Facebook advertising and photography. Having a popular Facebook page has been the most important thing for credibility; it helps a lot when we’re trying to reach overseas markets. We’d probably be better off if we had someone a bit older. We joke that we need an adult around but we all work really hard.

Tell us about the support you’ve had.

We’ve had a couple of mentors in their 30s who have helped us - they’re the people we can ring up with questions. We haven’t done much planning, but we’ve tackled things as they come up. It’s all been organic and we want to keep that vibe.

What’s next for George & Willy?

We want to crack some big retailers in the US market. We’re trying to get a deal with our paper rollers - that’s our biggest product by far, which was a complete accident. We just knew they were cool, we didn’t know there was such a big market for them. One of our goals is to streamline the whole business and make it stress-free. We’ve had points of running around like headless chickens and it’s not fun - we want less of that.

What wisdom and skills can young retailers bring to the industry?

Being young is good because you don’t get stuck in your ways, you have to think outside the box - everyone these days has so much choice. People can be non-committal, but it’s also a good thing because there’s a broad scope.

How can different generations help each other improve Kiwi retail as a whole?

One thing we did is hold a Thought Lab - where we met in our workshop one day and invited as big a range of people as possible. Someone from every age bracket. We had a sausage sizzle and did brainstorming and tried to figure out what’s best for our business. It was a great success, I’d recommend it to all retailers – just get a bunch of people together for two hours and pick their brains. 

This story originally appeared in the June / July 750 issue of Retail NZ.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Introducing New World's 2019 Christmas ad

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Introducing New World's 2019 Christmas ad

New World and Colenso BBDO have unveiled this year’s Christmas ad, showing the generous Kiwi tradition of inviting every available Tom, Dick and Harry to Christmas lunch, resulting in many mouths to feed.

Read more
 
 

Raglan Coconut Yoghurt's Latesha Randall reports back from the US on what's hip and happening

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • Latesha Randall
Raglan Coconut Yoghurt's Latesha Randall reports back from the US on what's hip and happening

Latesha Randall is ​the co-founder of Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, a delicious dairy-free yoghurt born out of a beautiful town two hours south of Auckland. She previously documented the adventures of her company when it was a start-up in a column in Idealog – you can read it here. Recently, Randall traveled to the 2019 Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, USA and observed the food trends that were happening abroad. New Zealand foodies, take note: here, she reports back on what she thinks will be big contenders in the future food space.

Read more
 
 

Outdoor goods retailers Cactus Outdoor and Kathmandu collaborate

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Outdoor goods retailers Cactus Outdoor and Kathmandu collaborate

Two prominent Kiwi outdoor goods retailers, Kathmandu and Cactus Outdoor, have collaborated to produce a line of certified ‘Buy NZ Made’ products which will be launched in Kathmandu stores around New Zealand on Buy NZ Made Day this week.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

Casual brows

  • Opinion
  • November 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Casual brows

As competition hots up between internationals and local brands in the beauty category, NZ Retail and The Register editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn considers what comes next.

Read more
 
 

How New Zealand businesses performed in China’s 11.11 shopping festival

  • News
  • November 15, 2019
  • The Register team
How New Zealand businesses performed in China’s 11.11 shopping festival

This week marked Singles’ Day - a Chinese holiday run by mega-retailer Alibaba that, while still relatively unknown in the western world, is surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday in scale and sales. Alibaba reports it generated US$38.4 billion of gross merchandise volume this year.

Read more
 

Building transparency in your supply chain

  • Opinion
  • November 14, 2019
  • Vanessa Thompson
Building transparency in your supply chain

Brands are under pressure to become more ethical, but how does this pressure apply to Kiwi fashion retailers? Unravelled Consultants founder and director Vanessa Thompson explains.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}