It has now been two years since I took a big leap of faith and launched the Monsta Surf clothing range. It sure has been a crazy adventure and I am so proud of where the brand is today.
I still remember the day so clearly. It was a Thursday night and I remember coming home from my after school care job and putting the final touches on the website before launching it. Right before pressing publish, I remember thinking to myself “what happens if no one buys anything”.
You see, my dream to turn my ‘Monsta Surfboards’ hobby into a business started about 10 months before that night. I was on a missions trip with my girlfriend Erin, at the Huruma Childrens Home in Kenya, and the desire to be able to use Monsta as a way of giving back was placed in my heart. When I got home, I began planning out my vision for the brand and saved the majority of my income in 2013 to put into the clothing range. So the thought of it not meeting my expectations was a scary one.
At 7pm, on the fourth of October in 2013, monstasurf.com went live and I showed the world what I had to offer. The initial response was amazing! Although I did not know what to expect, I remember going to bed that night pretty stoked with the response. The site received a heap of traffic and we received orders from all over Australia. It was also nice to see lots of familiar names getting behind what I was doing. I think it did well initially because I had already created a small following on social media, posting about the surfboards that I was shaping and letting people know about my plans to expand into clothing and keeping them updated.
This initial hype didn't last for too long though. After a few weeks the orders quieted down. The early adopters already had their gear and I was finding it hard to keep the momentum going. I wasn't discouraged though. I had a steely determination to grow the brand and kept persisting through the tough times. I think a lot of business owners get discouraged too easily. It is so important to stay level through the wins and the losses (this is something I will unpack in a few weeks).
Things seemed to pick up again at Christmas time but then it really dropped off in January. I actually remember sitting next to my pool half way through January, not enjoying it at all and trying to work out what I could do. The orders were really quiet and I was struggling financially after leaving my job in December to work on my passion. It sure was hard to keep having faith in my vision.
Even though things seemed quite tough, I couldn't push my passion away. I couldn't come to termswith the thought of not being able to grow Monsta so I kept persisting and working hard. One night in February 2014, I came home from basketball training and couldn't get the brand off my mind. I sat down in my room and just started drawing. Several hours later, I had some fresh new designs in front of me, two very tired eyes, and one very confused mother when she realised in the morning that I had not been to sleep yet. Long story short, those designs were released a few weeks later and they were extremely popular - especially this ‘Surf Co Tee’.
I also took the time to redo our product photography and update the website. We had momentum again and I was loving it! It was a real turning point and we started to grow each and every week.
A few months later I realised that we were starting to get a strong demand and that it would be wise for me to head overseas to get our own manufacturing done there. So I deferred from Uni for the second semester of 2014, pack my bags and took my ideas over to China. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into… I booked for three weeks but found it much tougher than I thought it would be to source a fair trade factory and get the new range produced.
Six weeks later I came home with the new range organised and a big debt next to my name (thanks for the loan Dad)! Some communication problems made for some set backs and the plan to have the new range released in November of 2014 was postponed and the range was released three months later in February of this year (2015). Obviously this wasn't ideal, but I had learned so much about myself in those six lonely weeks by myself overseas and learned a lot about communicating with others, problem solving and negotiating through the production delays while I was back at home.
We had a launch party for the new range in February at Cushion Bar in St Kilda, which was a whole lot of fun and a great celebration of the journey to get to that point.
Since then, the range has done really well online, we now have an office and concept store in Ringwood, Victoria and things have been growing really quickly. I have also now dropped out of my uni course and have been enjoying the challenge of turning my vision for my brand into reality. Life has sure felt like it’s been going at a million miles an hour lately… But I am loving it!
What we made in the whole of that tough month of January 2014, we do in about one day now. So it has been amazing to be a part of such fast growth and I have been really blessed that so many awesome people have ‘joined the tribe’ around the world, who have been the brand’s voice and spread the Monsta love.
Over the coming weeks, I will share some of the biggest lessons that I have learnt through the adventures of the last few years.
Really excited to share what I have learnt and I hope that it will inspire you to live passionately and live a life without limits.
Anyway, I’m wrecked after a big day in the salt over here in Indonesia, talk soon!