Technology, the internet and flexibility allows Fallenfront to operate from the surf shores of Raglan
Steve Crowhurst, 34, runs his e-commerce business from the surf shores of Raglan. Crowhurst talks about the beauty of technology, the internet, how it provides flexibility and what his work schedule looks like.
A brief description of the business
Fallenfront is an online street wear and lifestyle apparel company that is based out of Raglan. We're celebrating our fifth birthday next month.
We're a retailer that stocks the brands that everyone knows and loves, including adidas, Huffer and New Balance. We also offer a range of slightly harder to find brands. We've collaborated with a few New Zealand brands such as Huffer, Just Another Fisherman and Thing Thing.
Why did you start Fallenfront?
After five-plus years working overseas I wanted to move back home to Raglan. For this to happen, I needed to find an opportunity in my industry - apparel sales and production - that wasn't restricted by where I lived. At the time, I noticed there was a gap in the online retail market. Opening gave me the chance to live and work here.
How big is your team?
We've got five staff members and that balloons out to a few more in summer. We have a concept store in Raglan town itself so when the summer crowds come through we hire more staff to take care of that.
How does your business model work?
Our business model consists of two parts: online retail and a physical concept store in Raglan. We buy a curated selection of street wear for men, and recently women, making sure it's at the forefront of New Zealand and international trends.
We style and shoot the collections in our studio, then display these collections on our web store. We dispatch orders from Raglan with the best service available by offering free next day delivery and free returns. Our concept store is a sophisticated, contemporary space with a minimal feel for an elevated shopping experience, it's a physical representation of our online store.
Tell me a bit more about your concept store?
The concept store is permanently open but we do brand activations and pop-ups.
Last year when we opened it was a Huffer pop-up shop, where the store had the entire range of Huffer products and then this summer we have another featuring an Australian brand that we stock exclusively here in New Zealand.
What's it like running a business from Raglan?
It's great, mainly because it is now possible to do, thanks to technology and the internet. It is great to be able to live a lifestyle that a lot of the brands from the city try to portray. Also, it's nice that we can have a surf in the middle of the day and know everything is ticking along nicely with the website.
Where did the name Fallenfront come from?
Fallenfront came from five pages of thinking about names. The brand name came together organically from a bunch of ideas. Fallenfront sounds a bit different which is important for brand recognition, it also has the meaning of a 'new front', relating to a new street wear player in the market.
What's the Raglan business community like?
It's really solid and its only growing, mainly because Raglan is becoming quite a sought after place to live because of the lifestyle, and its proximity to Hamilton and Auckland. Relating back to the beauty of online, there are a lot of other companies popping up whereas typically they would have had to run from the main centre.
What is your largest market for overseas customers?
It ranges between 5 and 10 per cent of our annual turnover and most of them come from Australia or the US. We go as far as Europe and Canada.
What's the best thing about running your business?
The best thing about running Fallenfront is being able to access markets both nationally and internationally from Raglan, allowing me to live in my hometown.
I'm lucky enough to live right above the ocean and just being able to enjoy that and the overall lifestyle everyday. I also like being able to support local people so they can enjoy the same thing.
What's the biggest lesson you've learnt?
For myself in business, it has been to always trust your instincts and back them.
At Fallenfront we learnt very quickly that service is everything. We constantly get amazing feedback from satisfied customers. Online shopping is supposed to be convenient and that's always top of mind at Fallenfront.
Working with the population has been the biggest challenge we have faced.
The size of the market is a lot smaller than if we did the same thing in the US or Europe. We try and combat the size of our market by having the right product and offering the best services. We have the best shipping and returns policy, and it's all about offering those kinds of things above the competition.
What advice do you give to others thinking of starting their own business?
Research the market as much as possible, ask a lot of questions, create a plan.
Know what your unique proposition is. When you are launching something new to the market make sure you are launching something unique. Spend as many late nights working on it as your body can physically take, and work really, really hard.