Who will be the next Patagonia? It just might be Sealand

South African based mostly way of life model markets responsibly made gear and attire

Sealand is a South African based mostly way of life model targeted on responsibly made gear and attire. Its mission is to make sure that each choice made retains the planet and its folks entrance and middle. The Sealand journey started in 2015. The founders had been two surfers, a canine and a Cruiser. The group trekked across the nation of South Africa collectively seeking one of the best waves and a dream. Quick ahead to 2023 and the dream has advanced right into a vibrant group of pros who’re constructing international model recognition for his or her sustainably created merchandise.

All Sealand baggage and attire are handmade by valued craftspeople from waste or responsibly and ethically sourced supplies. These supplies are then mixed with high-quality {hardware}, aware design, and skilled craftsmanship to create gear meant to final a lifetime. The upcycled and responsibly sourced supplies used are sturdy and climate resistant, chatting with the souls of those that put on them on the outside journey of their selection, or just a morning commute.

I had the distinct pleasure of being launched to Adrian Hewlett, CEO Sealand by Clever Marketer colleague Deon Olivier, founder Woodstock Loyalty. After wrapping up the primary African Loyalty Academy workshop just lately, Deon guided me right into a Sealand retailer in Stellenbosch on a sunny afternoon. The standard and enchantment of the merchandise within the retailer resulted in just a few purchases, but additionally a craving to study extra concerning the model.

That curiosity led to this dialog, the place I realized about Adrian’s evolution by way of enterprise to his present management of Sealand. We explored the challenges and complexities of producing a sustainable line of clothes and kit and gained perception into the views that this adventurous government applies as he grows a world model.

Adrian grew up in Zambia and Mozambique and is a fluent speaker of French and Portuguese. A serial entrepreneur, he brings years of expertise, dedication, and acute organizational expertise to raise the model and the operations that uphold it. On prime of this, Adrian is an adventurer, endurance runner, and the true epitome of the Sealand way of life.

Clever Marketer (WM): You could have fairly a historical past in South African advertising. Are you able to share a little bit of your background?

Adrian Hewlett (AH): My background is within the media and advertising world. Within the mid-2000’s, I launched a Digital Media gross sales home whose first consumer was Microsoft MSN. This was early days in digital media and we performed a giant function in launching the business property of Microsoft, together with Fb and LinkedIn. We served as their gross sales group and did media gross sales for the Monetary Mail, Every day Maverik and others.

As a part of the enterprise evolution, we launched a inventive studio which made banner adverts and different property that met the wants of on-line media consumers. Finally I bought the media gross sales enterprise and began Machine, a digital company that included a concentrate on client incentives and rewards. That enterprise grew and was finally bought to Publicis Groupe in 2014.  I stayed on in a management function till 2017.

WM: What led you to Sealand?

AH: I initially got here throughout the model in 2016. I favored it instantly because it matched up with my ardour for the outside, a love of the ocean, and caring for the planet. I seen the standard of the merchandise provided, favored their story and have become nearer to the model over time. As soon as I had left Publicis, I used to be looking for my subsequent path in enterprise.

I actually made a chilly name to the house owners and sat down with the “two surfers”, Jasper and Mike to discover the chance. Mike Schlebach is a widely known huge wave surfer and shared a imaginative and prescient with Jasper for the Sealand merchandise. I believed I may assist with the strategic and business method and I invested in 2018 to develop into an energetic a part of the enterprise.

A key level that attracted me to Sealand was – and is to at the present time – the authenticity of the model message. Not solely was the message projected outwardly to the market, however it is usually an correct reflection of what was occurring on the within. The house owners had a dedication to high quality and sustainability and had created a tradition with staff in keeping with their imaginative and prescient.

WM: What got here subsequent?

AH: It turned out that we had loads to study. I didn’t understand how completely different manufacturing was from company work. As an entrepreneur with two profitable exits in my profession, I believed I may grasp this new world, but it surely offered many alternatives to study.

In fact, then got here COVID. We had been confronted with challenges that impacted all retailers and we had powerful choices to make. Because the everlasting optimist, I believed the pandemic would possibly final 4 months, but it surely grew to become two years as we all know. Although all of us have a powerful relationship, Mike left the enterprise at the moment and I needed to make some powerful choices.

WM: How did the pandemic play out for you?

AH: About twelve months in the past, a lightweight bulb popped on. At the moment, Sealand income got here from a number of channels. We had our personal bodily shops, a rising e-commerce enterprise, some wholesale in South Africa and company gross sales. The most important gross sales channel was wholesale enterprise to retailers within the UK and US, the place we bought to Selfridges, Nordstrom, Liberty of London, Mr. Porter, Bloomingdales, and others. Whereas that channel helped construct model consciousness, money stream and margins suffered.  International transport prices elevated dramatically all through the pandemic. I knew I needed to reimagine the enterprise.

The daring transfer we made was to eradicate the worldwide wholesale channel. We took a giant threat, chopping off nearly 45 % of forecasted income. The transition was surprisingly clean, and I attribute that to our transparency in speaking the explanations for this new method to our wholesale companions.  We defined our reasoning and so they understood.

WM: What did you do subsequent?

AH: We adopted a good concentrate on our personal channels, reinvested within the buyer expertise, each in bodily shops and on-line. We invested in e-commerce, our person journeys and made positive we had been connecting with the best clients.  We put all of our model constructing energy into one space of the enterprise, and it labored.

Retail development was 130 % month over month throughout 2022 and the income produced larger margins. We’re worthwhile now and the prospects for the approaching 12 months are good. Our model scores and buyer satisfaction indicators are all rising.

WM: Are you able to describe your model essence?

AH: All of us revolve round a love for the ocean and there’s a nautical really feel to the model. It’s directly consultant of the outside, the ocean, the liberty of an journey exterior whereas interesting to a broad vary of shoppers. Individuals who need a cool bag with numerous utility and wish to do one thing for the world relate to the model. The model speaks to those values which is one cause we don’t advocate a discounting tradition at Sealand.

WM: What’s your channel technique now, bodily shops, ecommerce or each?

AH: Our first bodily retailer was launched within the V&A Waterfront in Cape City. That one acquired numerous consideration and it truly led to the wholesale enterprise I discussed earlier. Now we now have 4 bodily shops and will likely be opening the fifth in Johannesburg quickly. Two extra are deliberate all through 2023.

The e-commerce enterprise is up 200%, so we are going to proceed to speculate on this channel. And right here’s one thing for you, we didn’t run any particular promotions on Black Friday this previous 12 months because the technique runs opposite to our model. Regardless of that, we noticed 100% development in gross sales from the earlier 12 months.

WM: Let’s speak about sustainability. I learn in your web site that each one Sealand baggage and attire are handmade from waste or responsibly and ethically sourced supplies. How does this work?

AH: We supply uncooked supplies for our merchandise from a number of sources and it’s a advanced course of. Our method is leverage “Upcycling”, the method of utilizing current supplies that haven’t but been recycled. We now have a number of sources. First are the canvas sails. It’s extremely sturdy and it’s accessible to us as it’s “B grade” materials rejected by the manufacturing unit for causes necessary to sailors however making the product good for what we do.

We additionally use a product referred to as ECONYL® regenerated nylon will be understood as waste that’s in any other case polluting the Earth (equivalent to fishing nets, material scraps, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic), which is rescued, sorted, after which cleaned to recuperate the nylon inside this waste. By a radical regeneration and purification course of, the nylon waste is introduced again to its authentic type. The ECONYL® regenerated nylon is then processed into yarns and polymers to be used in various industries and merchandise.

WM: I seen the distinctive lining of your baggage. Is that sourced sustainably as effectively?

AH: I’m glad you seen that. The liner of our baggage is exclusive. We use a product referred to as Polytwill which is used generally for large in-store shows at retails you’ll know together with Mr. Value, and Woolworths,.  This materials decorates the inside of the shops and is changed quarterly. There isn’t a actual secondary function for the fabric and it’s an ideal lining for our baggage. Prospects prefer it as a result of each bag is completely different. with vibrant colors and imagery lining every of our baggage.

WM: What logistics are concerned in sourcing sustainable materials and the way do you measure its influence on the planet?

AH: Our baggage are carbon impartial. Sealand baggage have a carbon footprint of .9 kilos whereas a competitively comparable bag would possibly use as a lot as 10KG carbon. We complement our residual with carbon credit generated through recycling tasks in Hout Bay. Our whole enterprise will likely be carbon impartial within the subsequent 12 months.

We use about 35 tons of Poly twill per 12 months. One huge retailer we all know makes use of 15 tons per 12 months, all of which went into the landfill previously. The waste is big.

The fee and logistics of utilizing eco-friendly supplies is daunting. Econyl is triple the worth of standard supplies. We now have to issue that into our mannequin. Thankfully, we don’t should pay for the Poly twill itself. We now have an settlement for the fabric disposed of by some retailers to be delivered to our facility reasonably than a dump location. If we hadn’t labored out these points and had the cooperation of the retailer’s logistics enterprise, we might be going through a lot larger prices.

WM: What else do we have to learn about Sealand?

AH: Crucial factor for folks to learn about Sealand is that we’re a very trustworthy firm that’s making an attempt to make the planet a greater place. Simon Sinek advocates that you should have a “why” and ours is collectively we make the planet higher.

We are able to’t lie ever, in case you can’t put it up on a billboard, then you’ll be able to’t do it. I feel that’s the psychology across the enterprise. It makes life loads simpler. Simply maintain fully trustworthy about all the things you do.

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