Victorian couple Zorali’s outdoor retail company raises $2million
A Victorian couple who fell in love with their passion for the outdoors turned it into a business that pays millions.
When Cam Greenwood first met his wife Elise, they bonded over a shared love of nature – and their whirlwind romance saw them get engaged five months later.
Yet at the time, Cam was going through one of the most “difficult” times of his life.
It was 2017 and the surfing brand he started as a hobby as a 19-year-old had taken off in the five years since its launch.
But a Californian company was not happy and had started a legal battle.
“I ended up dropping out of college to pursue the business full time and it grew into a strong brand called Monsta Surf and I had customers from 40 countries,” he told news.com .to.
“Then I had a green energy drink that followed us.”
The stressful time led the 29-year-old – who doesn’t even surf – to realize that the business he really wanted to run was about being outdoors rather than surfing.
Elise was working as a women’s designer at Rip Curl at the time and together they decided to create a new outdoor brand called Zorali.
He saw the couple go on camping trips, have fun with friends and enjoy nature as part of their business pursuits.
“We really experimented with a lot of other brands in the industry and felt like it was almost performance driven, even in marketing it was about getting to the top or starring people. ‘athlete hanging off the edge of the cliff with one arm’, he mentioned.
“It didn’t really fit the way we saw the exterior. A lot of Aussies just love getting outside and we really wanted to be a guide to taking those first steps outdoors.
“The outdoors can be difficult to get to and people don’t know the technical jargon and equipment. We wanted to create an accessible and welcoming brand and guide people deeper into the outdoors. »
The Victorian couple launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2019, raising $300,000 from 550 investors to get their idea off the ground.
For the first 12 months, they worked on Zorali from home and launched just in time for the pandemic to hit Australia, selling everything from tents to camping chairs, drinks and cooking utensils, stoves firewood, backpacks and clothing for men and women.
“So it was kind of a crazy time. When Covid first hit, we were running an outdoor brand at a time when people were physically encouraged not to venture out with all the lockdowns,” Cam said.
“It felt like things could have gone down a pretty tough road for us.
But surprisingly, it worked in their favor as people felt the burden of the restrictions keenly, Cam said.
“I think when something is taken away from you – the freedom to just get out there and go explore places near and far from home – it really makes you appreciate it a lot more,” he said.
“A lot of our friends and a lot of people in our community and our post-lockdown customers have just shown a much stronger appreciation for the simple joys of going on a stretch of road or going camping with your friends and those simple pleasures that we all took for granted before the pandemic.
He admits, however, that the work was slow and “very hard” for the first year, as they achieved sales of $175,000. But it increased by 600% in the second year.
The brand’s bestsellers include their camping chairs, which range in price from $119 to $199, and four different backpacks, which sell for $169.95.
There’s also a camp for $675, which Cam says makes getting outdoors less “overwhelming” – it includes a tent, sleeping mat and camp pillow to get someone ready for a trip. .
Elise, who leads a six-person design team, focuses on using recycled or organic materials, but also creating visually appealing garments.
“Traditionally, a lot of outerwear might not be very good in terms of design,” Cam said.
“A major area of focus is making outdoor gear that not only performs great and looks super cool, but you can also wear it on a hike or around town on a daily basis.”
Currently 90% of their income comes from inland Australia, but now the couple, whose favorite outdoor destination is Otway in southern Victoria, are attracting interest from the United States.
In July, they will launch a collaboration with American lifestyle brand Huckberry, popular for its outdoor gear.
Cam said Zorali has also evolved with the pandemic, with the duo seeing it more as a sustainable wellness brand that connects people to nature rather than an outdoor essentials company.
The couple recently spent time on Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second highest mountain, and it’s also part of their big plan – to take their online presence offline, with a calendar of events due to be released later this year.
“It’s something we’re really excited to develop – the experience side of Zorali – we don’t just see ourselves as an online outdoor retailer and we want to create these really meaningful experiences that come with the brand,” said Cam.