Sydney Morning Herald Profiles Curvy - Behind the Scenes

October 11, 2018

We were thrilled to be profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today:

Original article here:

Transcript below:

Meet the man carving a living out of selling D-K-size bras

Nina Hendy

 

Wes Blundy didn't set out to become an expert in plus-size bras. But he couldn't ignore the huge gap in the market.

At first, his wife thought he was joking. But the 34-year-old explained to her that macro trends showed that the population was changing shape and women had larger busts.

Wes Blundy is the owner of online bra retailer Curvy. Photo: Supplied

Wes Blundy is the owner of online bra retailer Curvy. Photo: Supplied

"I could see it was pretty difficult to shop for a bra if you were size 14F or 22DD, particularly online. Even though bras are an everyday proposition for the majority of the population."

Sizing standards vary in different parts of the world and the high cost to return an ill-fitting bra to an overseas retailer also played into his hands.

Online bra retailer Curvy sells bigger size bras.

Online bra retailer Curvy sells bigger size bras. Photo: Supplied

Proving the demand for bigger bras

So, Blundy jumped in, launching online plus-size bra retailer Curvy in January 2014 as an autonomous entrepreneurial venture, jointly funded by Bras N Things, to service the plus-size market. (His Uncle Brett Blundy owns Bras N Things.)

"I offered to take six months of no pay and negotiate with all the suppliers to make this happen. I was determined from the outset," Blundy says.

Incredibly, he didn't spend a cent on stock to launch, negotiating his first supplier to provide nearly 100 bras to test the market, ploughing earnings back into the business. "It was the only time we asked for free stock, and we sold out very quickly, proving there was market need for our online store."

Early on, he was the only person in the team and tried his best to answer customer queries.

Blundy says Curvy customers can get emotional.                                              

Blundy says Curvy customers can get emotional. Photo: Supplied

"Customers were surprised to find a male answering the phone. And my bra knowledge was really lacking at first."

He overcame this by taking their number, running downstairs to the Bras N Things team and asking for the answer before calling the customer back, he says.

"Customers can get emotional when they find us. Often, they've only got one beige harness that fits them, and haven't ever been able to find a strapless bra or sports bra.

"We always make sure we have the products people are looking for. We don't sell many bras in size 18J, but we still need to ensure we've got that stock when a customer comes looking for it."

Often, these women have only got one beige harness that fits them, and have never been able to find a strapless bra or sports bra.
Wes Bundy

A shipping container for an office

Blundy bought out Bras N Things' 50 per cent stake in the business at the start of 2016, determined to make his mark on the plus-size bra market.

He attributes part of his success to escaping exorbitant Sydney rent by leasing a small Storage King at $550 a month, where he began operations. "I set up the computers next to the racks of bras, coming into a shipping container to work each day."

This calendar year, Curvy's revenue is projected to be more than $1 million, up from $580,000 in 2016, with growth predicted to continue.

The power of knowing nothing

Ignorance can be a powerful advantage when launching an online business, as Rob Hango-Zada, the founder of Shippit, says.

"I also knew nothing about logistics when I launched Shippit," Hango-Zada says. "This ignorance means we weren't constrained by industry norms, or shackled to the beliefs of what's possible and what's not - often held by upper management."

What's important when launching a business is to know your customer and be sure of the problem you're trying to solve for them, Hango-Zada says.

Shippit now handles one per cent of all logistics bookings each month and has a turnover of more than $5 million.

Buoying sales

Blundy had partnered with his uncle before, with a previous proposal to handle the online franchise for national jewellery retailer Diva (also owned by his uncle) accepted. He built up online sales at Diva from a few hundred dollars a week to over $30,000 a week before selling the business, which is now defunct. Prior to that, Blundy was in international trade at PwC.

Surprising Curvy customers with free gifts with purchases for repeat customers have grown revenue. He also offers free shipping and absorbs the costs of free returns, which hover around 10-20 per cent.

A web service that tracks delivery emails customers about their expected arrival day and AfterPay has also buoyed sales.

"My wife thinks it's funny that I know her mum's and sister's bra sizes, but she's been really supportive, even when I wasn't even bringing in an income for the first six months," says Blundy.