Launching an Activewear business with Val Rodger

August 9, 2019

Over the past 12 months, I have had the privilege of working alongside an exciting new activewear startup, Destination Derriere. Together we developed a range of legging designs, brand identity, and an e-commerce website. Today I sit down with the founder, Val Rodger, and chat through exactly what is involved in the 12 months leading up to bringing  an activewear line to the market. 

Hi Val, Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. What was the inspiration behind starting DD?

For quite some time we had been looking for something to build on as a sideline when we cut back on our day jobs (ha ha). Given our background in sport, we obviously wanted to do something we enjoyed and looking at the apparel market realised it was flooded with product but lacking in anything particularly unique. Lots of choices, but fabrics and patterns all looked similar across different price points. And it was dominated by plain black. We wanted to do something completely different – a risk I know.

Can you take us through the process from initial concept through to launch?

It has been about 12 months. We always wanted to launch a niche product made in Australia, and where possible, maintain an ethical supply chain and give something back. We give $5 from every pair of leggings sold to Ovarian Cancer Australia. Of course, an ethical business model comes at a cost. And we were looking at something that would probably cost around 30 cents an hour to produce in China and $30 an hour in Australia so we always knew it would be a limited release, premium product.

Initially we looked for original iconic images that would transfer to leggings; we sourced fabrics from Italy through a Brisbane supplier, and found a boutique manufacturer on the Gold Coast. As far as actual pattern and features go, we reflected on our many years of running and active sports and developed a minimal pattern that would be practical in a variety of situations. Working directly with photographers, our designer (Marielle), the pattern maker and manufacturer was worthwhile, because we eventually developed a product that we hope will be successful. We were able to get one-off samples made and our stock turnaround is quite short – but again, it all comes at a cost. Having a good team is critical. We have been very lucky so far and I’m sure there’s been times when my pedantic approach (I’m an academic) has tested their patience.

What was it like to showcase your product at the Gold Coast Marathon?

Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and despite feeling confident that we have a good product, it is up to the market to decide. Feedback at the Gold Coast Marathon expo was fantastic. Much better than we expected. It also gave us an insight into who our market is likely to be and we actually got that right from the beginning. Obviously, our price point determines that and although quite a mixed demographic responded favourably to the display and products at the expo, we still think our actual market will be where we expected. 

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to other start-ups?

Stick to your original concept and although it will change direction, don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve. It is very easy to be side-tracked by other people, but keep all your original ideas, notes, diagrams and from time to time, reflect back because that’s probably where you should be. Take advice but stick to your own concepts and ideas. 

What’s next for DD?

I guess the next six months will be interesting. We’re not being too ambitious or getting ahead of ourselves. It is still a big learning curve as we were both ‘technophobic’ and still are to a large degree so that in itself is something that needs time. Social media will play a big part in our marketing and building customer loyalty so we have to get that right. Customer feedback will be very important in these early stages and we must listen and make the necessary adjustments. Ask us in another six months.
You can check out Destination Derriere’s new Activewear range HERE!

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