The worldwide hunger for responsibly produced fashion has seen a Kiwi couple’s business go from strength to strength
For a Mount Maunganui-based couple, starting up an online onestop shop for nature-inspired products has become a lucrative business venture, on a global scale.
Conrad Cranfield and his wife Natalie are the pair behind Nature Shop, an online retailer selling premium clothing, homeware and organic skincare and clothing for children.
In just three years the CarboNZero company has grown at an astronomical rate, earning it second place in the most recent Deloitte Fast 50 awards.
Back in 2007, Cranfield, an e-commerce developer, and his wife who has a background in graphic design, began researching what was selling well online.
“We didn’t know what we were going to sell, but believed we had some really good online selling strategies. We looked for products that we could sell competitively out of New Zealand to an international target market. We did lots of research on search volumes and the recurring themes were sheepskin and wool. Sheepskin boots had massive search volumes.”
From here the brand EMU Australia was secured and they began their first supply contract.
The pair expected it would take two to three years for their venture to become their main business. But after the first month sales rung up over $15,000, jumped to $50,000 the following month and reached $100,000 by the third.
As Cranfield puts it: “We took off from there. We grew 1106 per cent over three years.”
The company has expanded to stock Kiwi brands including Icebreaker and Nature Baby and maintains a focus on suppliers with a sustainable conscience.
“The original glue which held our product mix together was natural fibre products, however we have evolved this to be nature-inspired products from environmentally responsible companies.”
Cranfield says while they don’t find people searching for “green products” he describes their typical customer as someone who cares about the environment “but in a mainstream greeny way.”
“It’s a continual evolution to be environmentally responsible and people do seem to be after a higher quality of production, and they want things that last for a longer time. It’s at the core of our whole ethos really.”
Nature Shop now sells to customers the world over, and with huge attention coming from the northern hemisphere, the company has recently set up a warehouse in the UK, securing brands like Timberland and Patagonia to expand into the European market.
“The northern hemisphere has a far larger and more affluent market. We wanted to be able to provide much better service to our customer. We wanted to bring down shipping costs and reduce our carbon footprint.”
All going to plan, this year will see the launch of a German version of the website and in two years’ time Cranfield says it is expected Nature Shop will have expanded into the Asian market.
Above: Clothing from Icebreaker’s
spring/summer 2012 collections.