Today we are sharing an interesting story from Davie Fogarty. Davie is the owner of a popular e-commerce brand known as The Oodie, which he was able to take from $0 to $150 000 000 in the last 3 years. Davie also owns a couple of other e-commerce brands that are generating millions of dollars in annual revenue.
Getting into Online Marketing
Davie got into digital marketing straight out of school. He was growth-hacking Instagram accounts to over 600 000 followers back then. He spent time learning about algorithms and systems behind social platforms and how to work with them.
As all other young entrepreneurs do, he became distracted and began failing a lot of other business ideas. Some of the businesses Davie started and failed include a gym clothing business, a headphone business, iPhone case business, personal training business, seasoning business, and the biggest failure was his Vietnamese roll shop.
At this time he was studying marketing and mining engineering at university which he dropped out after the first semester. Davie then started a marketing agency as a solopreneur because he wanted to learn a holistic approach to marketing rather than doing hacky, permissionless online marketing which was providing no value.
He learned how to shoot video ads, how to run Facebook ads, and how to build websites and landing pages. He approached a tonne of businesses and shot content for them, built their websites, and then ran their ads. At first, he did this all for free just so that he could learn the skills.
He was providing a lot of value to his clients and considered starting a full marketing agency and hiring people. However, he changed his decision and opted to go for e-commerce businesses instead of a marketing agency. This was when he created two Shopify e-commerce brands, The Oodie and Calming Blankets in 2018.
Launching the Oodie
While starting his e-commerce journey, Davie built relationships with the agents and not just the manufacturers from the factories. The agents kept sending him tonnes of product ideas from hundreds of different factories per week. This happens when you clearly let them know that you're willing to sell anything.
"All my brands started in such a different way back then. I think what I would suggest now is just be really vigilant when you're coming up with an idea, like looking for problems that need to be solved. Sites like Alibaba are really great to get started with to see what products are available.", says Davie.
When Davie started The Oodie, he just released them in some basic colors and he was super excited to be in the comfort wear space. He got his family and friends to model them on cold days. He took a tonne of images and videos and uploaded them to the debut default Shopify theme.
He wrote the copy himself based on a couple of direct response marketing books he had read just to make sure that the copy would convert. He then launched Facebook ads and sales came in from the first day.
He was packing orders by himself in a warehouse as well as doing all the customer service. After about a month, it started to get because he was juggling Calming Blankets as well.
His First Hire
After months of feeling overworked, Davie made his first hire to assist him and that was his brother, who still runs the operations side of the business up to today. His brother helped with everything when it came to packing customers’ orders and doing customer service.
"I still remember filling up giant rooms, filled with Oodie and Calming Blanket orders ready to be sent out and picked up by Australia Post."
Growing the Brand
To continue growing the brand, it was clear to Davie that he needed to focus on 4 main elements:
"I remember doing a big Europe trip with my friends, designing The Oodie patterns each morning that we still sell to this day. Looking back on it now, I think The Oodie is so successful because of our relentless desire to make our customers happy and just as happy as possible. We've had so many chances to cut corners and we will never do it. We want the softest, finest, and warmest product in the world.", Davie explains.
Shipping and Fulfillment
Davie doesn’t dropship his products directly from China because it makes his customers to wait too long for their orders. And sometimes, people can get a lower quality product at a cheaper price or sometimes a crappy counterfeit version.
"I think the best thing about our company culture is how much empathy we have for customers when things don't go right. We know we're a premium product that provides happiness, so we just need to make sure we're on the ball. One story that comes to mind is when Brexit happened and we had thousands of customers' orders stuck on shipment and we just couldn't get them delivered to the customer by Christmas as we initially promised.
This actually devastated the whole office and since then, we've really changed how we approach short-term profits compared to long-term customer satisfaction.", Davie says.
Currently, Davie and his company always choose the customer first.
His Other Brands
Apart from the Oodie, Davie has some other brands that he runs too. These brands include:
While running The Oodie, Davie was also running Calming Blankets. Back then, it was actually bigger than The Oodie in terms of revenue. He built it in a very similar way as The Oodie.
Davie says, "Once you have a model that works, you can just repeat it. I used friends and family to shoot ads, then launched on Shopify and Facebook. Not to play favorites but Calming Blankets really was my main focus for a long time because it was so rewarding in more ways than just money. It was helping a lot of people sleep and improve their quality of life. They were also amazing to help people with high sensory-seeking behavior. I learned a lot about autism by launching this brand. I think one of the most rewarding things was donating a lot of our blankets to the disabled arts program in my home city, Adelaide."
Davie is now transitioning Calming Blankets into a business that’s designed to help people improve their sleep. The team there have some incredible products in the pipeline which everyone is excited about.
Australian Furniture Warehouse
Another brand he launched after Calming Blankets and The Oodie was Australian Furniture Warehouse. He launched this with his mum and dad because they have always been in the furniture space for a long time.
"Most people think furniture is boring but we saw a huge opportunity by making it fun and exciting. We would buy the best, most on-trend products in bulk and then just have big warehouse sales where we'd just open for a few hours on the weekend. This kept our staff and overhead costs low, allowing us to charge way less than our competitors. I still remember having lines of more than 300 people around the block ready they'd to sprint and grab their bargains. One time we had Calming Blankets on sale there and about 100 people ran and stripped a whole pallet dry. They even ripped each other's clothes to get to the bargains. It was kind of like having a Black Friday sale every month."
Due to COVID-19, Davie had to really adapt due to not wanting large crowds which was synonymous with the AFW brand. AFW is now becoming even more successful thanks to focusing on online, which is their strength. Davies believes that he can take on some of the biggest players in the furniture space and provide amazing furniture at a fraction of their cost.
Davies started this brand with his best friend 2 years after launching The Oodie. Similar to Calming Blankets and The Oodie, Davie saw the opportunity to test and validate the product through Shopify and Facebook ads.
Davie says, "When we actually gave the products to dog owners, everyone was pretty blown away at how much the dogs liked it. We'd go to shoots with friends and the dog would just crawl up in it and just not leave the bed to finish the shoot. With this brand, again, we had the relentless desire to really make the product high quality.
There was a tonne of spammy companies that were just dropshipping a really low, light quality product from China. We decided we didn't want to do that and set up 3PLs to create the best customer experience. That brand quickly went to $1 000 000 a month in just 6 months of launching it, which is probably our fastest-growing launch."
Davie advises entrepreneurs that, if you have 0 dollars to start with, just start by learning skills. You can start selling those skills and getting into the industry. The main skills which you need are:
The brands that we have mentioned today by Davie were all pretty successful from very early on in the process. Of course, he had some failures as mentioned in the beginning but, he advises that people need to learn when to quit.
"Don't get addicted to an idea as it just might not work. Get addicted to the process of learning, finding out what actually works, or just get addicted to the industry itself. Test the ideas as lean as possible, determine exactly what success looks like, then stick to it. Failure is fine. I've failed a lot. But it's extremely important to find small bits of success which can then help build your understanding of what actually works.
You need to be on the lookout for positive feedback loops that you can then scale. Be on the lookout for small bits of information, such as a product that your friends love that you know that you can improve upon. Look at data closely and certain marketing case studies that have worked to help steer you in the right direction", Davie explains.
Davie’s Future Plans
Over the next few years, Davie plans to create a process that is easy, fast, and risk-free and develop software to do the entire process so that he can do bigger ventures and invent some really cool brands.
Davie is putting out some informative content on his Youtube channel and if you're keen to learn more and follow his journey, you can check out his Youtube channel named Davie Fogarty.