Alyce Tran is the co-founder of The Daily Edited, an online retailer that started out as a fashion and accessories blog.
The business has grown rapidly since its early days thanks to a savvy social media strategy. Last financial year, it turned over just under $5 million and snapped up a partnership with David Jones to have its products stocked in-store.
SmartCompany caught up with Tran to find out why she gave up a career as a lawyer and her advice for budding entrepreneurs hoping to find success in the world of online retail.
I worked as a corporate lawyer.
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Being a lawyer can be boring. You go in and you know what you’re doing every day. I was always looking for something to do outside of work and to give me something else to talk about other than the law.
The Daily Edited started as a blog where I showcased things that I liked – dresses or homewares – that sort of thing.
My co-founder Tania Liu and I launched a clothing line in 2011 and it totally tanked. We had a good time getting great press and it was really fun to see our clothes in magazines, but it was operationally a very difficult business to run.
So we let it die its natural death and The Daily Edited went back to being a blog.
We build a big following without really trying, and in September [that year] I was shopping for some leather accessories for myself. I thought, who can actually afford this stuff?
I said to Tania, I think we can do this cheaper and provide a good quality product.
So we got a few things made and put them on Instagram. They sold within a week, and we thought that was interesting. So we ordered some more things and it snowballed from there.
At that point, I said I would be happy if it were to make $5000 a year – that’s a little holiday.
Suddenly, it gets to June 2015, and I realise I couldn’t run a business with several employees and spend 12 hours a day at my desk at a law firm as well.
It was a little scary at the start, but we haven’t looked back. It’s been an incredible journey so far.
We’ve got a long way to go, but now it’s something we can continually work hard at and bring interesting things to market.
Pop-up stores are all the rage now. I thought, I’m not going to do one half-arsed market store, so I decided to find the most high-traffic site in Australia.
We ended up partnering with Westfield’s Pitt Street Mall to open a pop-up between Nespresso and Zara. They have 750,000 people walk through those doors weekly, so it was just great.
We did really well with sales and acquiring new customers and presenting the products in real life, which we hadn’t done before.
It gave us a crash course in running a bricks-and-mortar retail store. It’s a completely different business.
There is a percentage of people out there that struggle with [shopping] online. We want to cater to everybody, so we had to look at longer-term retail options.
That’s when the David Jones option came up and I thought, ‘that’s a really good brand to be involved with’.
It’s hard to make money from a bricks-and-mortar environment. So our online store sustains us, and this bricks-and-mortar extension we’ve gone into is a brand extension rather than a cash cow.
My advice for doing social media well? Treat it as seriously as you would any other channel. If you were putting together an ad you were paying good money for, you would put money behind it.
More people are on Instagram at night than watching TV. So put content up there and put some energy behind it.
If you put effort into content, it will be good.
People talk about how to do great marketing but marketing comes from serving your customers well.