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Bringing an idea to life (Part One)

Bringing an idea to life (Part One)

“How have you gone about it?” is the number one question we get asked in relation to VANDY. So I thought it might be fun to give you a glimpse of the process so far.

The idea is always the glamorous part. It’s exciting and full of potential. The process of turning it into reality is where it gets a little wild. No doubt there are endless paths to get from idea to reality; some may be more efficient; some may be more cost effective; some may be more stressful. Ultimately it’s the million micro decisions made that will determine the path. And the path will always be non-linear, that's the only certainty.

This share is the way Matt and I have gone about things, to date. And while I wholeheartedly believe we tried to minimise our errors, starting a new business is always going to be a baptism of fire. I get a lot of beautiful gems on starting a product brand from Erin Derring (the founder of the swimwear brand Triangl) and she says in a recent podcast you have to be both insane and willing to put it all on the line to be the founder of a business. I agree. Building VANDY has taken us to the highest of highs and also to the opposite end of the spectrum. Kinda like parenting.

The idea:
So for those who haven’t heard the story of how the idea came about. We were sitting at Currumbin beach with the kids one of those days in between Christmas and New Years where time doesn’t exist. And I saw a lady wearing her dressing gown. She stood out and I was thinking how comfy she seemed, albeit the dressing gown on a crowded beach gave off “I’m a tad crazy” vibes, I was captivated by her. My brain was off at a million miles. What if we made a cool option of this? What if we didn’t have to bring a towel to the beach but could wear our drying tool, look cool, feel comfortable, cover our bits while frolicking on the beach (or wrangling kids), cover up our precious neck and chest from the Aussie sun and hop into the car without getting a wet bum through our shorts, or simply hop on our bike and ride home in a robe. Brilliant.

A little research:
I took to the worldwide web and started exploring what’s out there. Who is doing what; style, marketing, price. I discovered that there are robes galore but 99% are designed for home and oversized (one size fits all). Nothing worse. One size never fits all. How ridiculous. Surprisingly (at the time, not now because I have become a Terry expert) the majority were not made with cotton Terry towelling. I found a handful of brands that offered beach robes as part of a collection, but didn’t specialise in them and the average cost was over $200. Too much for a beach robe to make them accessible. There was an obvious gap in the market.
The idea had legs.

Create a village to raise the vision:
Next I went about finding the right people to help me bring this vision to life.
But first the vision had to be clear:
To inject more colour into our beach days. To embrace our own individuality through choice and doing things our own way. To make adventures more practical. To encourage being outdoors as the antidote to our stressful lives. To promote better mental health for ourselves and our families. To have a bloody good time.

And we also got clear on our rules of engagement:
RULE 1. Everything has to be quality. We have to be thrilled to bits with everything we produce. It must always be our best work.
RULE 2. We only work or collaborate with people and brands we love and respect and are aligned with our VANDY (and us as humans).
RULE 3. To always see the humour and don’t take things too seriously (easy to write, hard to implement at times)

With this in mind I found an agency to partner with who have an in-house fashion designer and help with fabric sourcing, creating the design and finding the right factory to manufacturer. This felt like the right choice for us. Our fashion designer Ash was the perfect fit. An absolute legend.

Design the robe (how hard can it be?):
I (Matt wasn't really interested in this part) found five robes I liked and picked their top features. I wanted the best of all the robes I’d tried. It had to have a stylish high neck, big pockets (not too flimsy) not too long, short sleeved, ready for playing hard and equally comforting for lounging . Ash helped me design the perfect robe for beach and pool days. She created something called a tech pack with all the requirements to get our first sample made.

And then there was the material, which had to be just right. Enter my new knowledge into the options of Terry towelling. The process of sourcing material was frustrating to say the least. Matt and I like things to move quickly and this was a process that just took time. Knowing nothing about material or dying (keep this in mind for a later part of this story because ignorance can be bliss - until it’s not) I kept looking around at the millions of Terry products I owned like face washers, towels, the ugly hooded towels the kids have. And wonder how bloody hard does this need to be? Our Terry fabric choice (BTW Terry is actually the process of the weave not the name of the fabric) also meant my original idea of loud, patterned robes was not going to be viable (for now). But Terry is the most durable, soft and strong material choice. It absorbs 20 times its weight. Impressive. And my heart was set on it.

Having printed robes off the table is how the two colour contrast VANDY robe came to be. Which turned out to be bloody awesome if I do say so myself. A pivot I’m so grateful for. The search for fabric also led us to discover different factories had different requirements with Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) per colour. Long story short our desire to manufacture in Bali was also not going to be the best option for VANDY, for now. So off to manufacture in an ethically certified factory in China we went…….

PS. Part two is all about branding, social media, shoots, hats and bags…. coming soon


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