It’s around about this time of year that I get all reflective on the year gone past. I like to share these thoughts and experiences, be they good or bad. It is perhaps a little self indulgent but people always ask me – “how is business?” – from which I am expected to give a 2 or 3 sentence summary of how business is…
This is virtually impossible. On a daily basis we have ups and downs, pros and cons, goods and bads. Ask me at 10am how business is and I might give you list of issues that we have. Ask me at 5pm and it will be a whole different story.
But if I have to choose between business being “good” or “bad”, I would definitely opt for the good bracket. Pre-amble over, let’s take a look at what’s happened this year…
stolen goat product range takes off
At the end of 2013 I set about creating our very own jerseys. The mission was simply to create something that looked good, performed great and didn’t cost the customer a months salary. As a small business with low purchasing power this final point was never going to be trivial.
I knew we good deliver on quality, but how to achieve the price point I wanted without giving stuff away was the issue. Typically the way to reduce the end price is either to scrimp on features and fabrics (not an option) or to order a gazillion in one hit. That seemed too risky.
So I made a core business decision – we would do away with the typical business model in cycling of selling via distributors and wholesale etc and simply sell direct. This decision has pros and cons. The pros are that by cutting out the various middle men we can reduce the end price significantly whilst maintaining a reasonable margin. The cons are that we really need to achieve the volume on our own. All sales currently go through us. It can be tough to make the numbers but satisfying when we do.
Making our own range meant we could get our own product press reviews. I knew we had good products but the level of press reviews that we received was astounding, and really quite exciting. Nothing lights up the servers like a good press review or two. Big thanks to all the press that took the time to review our range this year.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Getting products manufactured is a lengthy process. You need to be ahead of the game, and frankly we were late getting started. This meant the products didn’t arrive until July and pushed us late for the autumn / winter season too. Hopefully we are on top of that now and in 2015 we’ll be bringing product to market at the right time. We have some incredible products in the pipeline for 2015. To say I’m excited is a big understatement.
Also balancing the right stock levels is a skill we have still to improve on. No small business wants to be lumbered with huge reserves that slowly move but at the same time, if you run out then you lose on sales. When our roadcc review came out we ran out in literally hours. Issue noted, we are working on improving our strategy here.
Big thanks to our Belgium partners Bioracer for helping us to produce the best performance cycling clothing known to man! Big shout to their UK distributors Onimpex too who we are working with now to enable you to get your hands on high end custom kit. Cheers guys, pleasure working with you this year.
UK distribution of Retro Image Apparel
We’ve been retailing Retro Image Apparel for a while now. But this year we started working more closely with this wonderful small business over in the US. They are a great bunch of people and fanatical about what they do, so being offered the opportunity to be UK distributor was a genuine honour and one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in this business so far.
We are working closely with them now on developing some new products. 2015 has a lot in store for these guys and likewise us as a result. Watch this space. Big thanks to John & Jim and the crew from Retro2 for involving stolen goat in your vision of awesomeness.
Tour de France & Other Events
There is no mistake about it – doing trade shows and events is an expensive business cost. I think most folk at events assume companies are raking in the money at these events but the reality is it costs so much to be there that breaking even is always a welcome relief.
That being said, they are great fun. Tiring yes but lots of fun. And for us, as an online only venture it’s a great way to meet you in person. So we will continue to be at shows in 2015, starting with the London Bike Show in February which is where we started our show tour this year. A great event, ridiculously hard work as an exhibitor but one that puts you on the map as it where.
The most enjoyable show this year though was undoubtedly the Festival of Cycling Grand Depart in Yorkshire. Tour mania swept through the crowd and the atmosphere was brilliant. It cost an arm and both legs to be there but witnessing the Tour, soaking in the atmosphere, riding over (or very near to) the finish line and meeting so many customers made it more than worth it. Huge thanks to my merry band of helpers Tim, Dave and Emily – good times people, good times.
Worldwide Goats & Community
From the first day we launched in 2012 we had International customers but this year, with the introduction of super fast Worldwide shipping and VAT free benefits for non EU customers we have had a lot of new customers around the planet. Pictured above is what I call Team Australia – a group of stolen goat fanatics who love riding and exercising together. They do it with style and it’s crazy to see this small company spread to the other side of the Planet.
The community has really grown this year. It’s lovely to see people commenting on other forum threads about their stolen goat purchases. And indeed, it’s fantastic to get pictures and feedback emailed in. Thanks to everyone who shared and took part in the community this year, whether you bought something or not. We’re all cyclists and it’s great to be a part of this buzzing sport & pastime.
To the people that make this happen…
Customers, cyclists, interested people, brand ambassadors, press, bloggers, general word-of-mouth spreaders… you all have helped us grow this year and I salute you. Thank you, wholeheartedly.
This year also saw 3 awesome investors dive head first into stolen goat. Thank you chaps, it’s remarkable to see other people have faith in what we are trying to achieve here. Faith is one thing, but to put money in too is something entirely different. Much love.
A glimpse into 2015
This is going to be one of those really annoying sentences where I say that something exciting is coming but I can’t tell you what. Sorry. But I can tell you that stolen goat is expanding in January. We have been working closely with another niche cycling business that is simply lovely and we’ll be building upon the outstanding work that has been done there already. Watch this space in mid-late January.
Other than expansion plans we have a new cycling kit range coming out as well as more of our Bodyline Range as well as some new “relaxed fit” jerseys for training, sportive riding and general riding that doesn’t require super aero speed. Early spring is going to be an exciting time right here, feel free to meet us at the London Bike Show to discuss what’s coming up :-D
Otherwise, make sure you’re on the newsletter to be first to know. Happy Christmas to you and your family and wishing you a fantastic 2015.
p.s. did you know 2015 is the Chinese Year of the Goat…?