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Curvy had initially planned to launch in the US in 2020. It cloned its Australian site and created a small advertising budget to run a pilot just before Covid-19, but was forced to put the project on the back burner as demand spiked in its home market.
Despite the lack of focus, the US site brought in $70,000 in the month of June alone, according to Blundy.
“That confirmed our excitement was well placed,” he said.
Now that consumer behaviour has stabilised in Australia, Curvy is ready to focus on the US business again. Blundy said he’s prepared to assign the necessary resources to the project, including hiring someone on the ground.
“Our goal in the short to medium term is to have the US be at least 50 per cent of total revenue,” he said. “We think that’s certainly achievable.”
Path to $10 million
Curvy’s US expansion follows its unexpected acquisition of local competitor Big Girls Don’t Cry Anymore earlier this year.
Based in Brisbane, Big Girls offered plus-size lingerie in-store and online for nearly 30 years. But owner Karen Mason reportedly struggled to keep the business going after the death of her husband Keith in May 2020. Liquidators were appointed shortly before Christmas.
When the liquidators contacted Blundy to see if he was interested in acquiring some of the assets, he went for it, despite having just 24 hours to make a decision.
“Big Girls is a business I’ve got a huge amount of respect for,” Blundy said. “They’ve done an amazing job building up a loyal customer base, offering great service, fitting and fantastic range. In some ways, I’d been doing due diligence on them for years, so I wasn’t starting cold.”
While the terms of the sale were not disclosed, Blundy said he paid a sensible price “so even if things don’t go perfectly, we have a bit of a buffer”. He acquired Big Girls’ digital and e-commerce assets, including brand name, IP and inventory.
Like Curvy, Big Girls saw a big increase in online sales in 2020, and Blundy expects the two businesses to generate $10 million in revenue this year. He plans to continue running Big Girls as a separate business and has hired four former employees to continue working on it.
“I’m a big believer in the customer being able to shop where and how she wants to shop,” Blundy said.
“I used to have these debates in organisations about pushing the customer in-store vs online. I think now with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that trying to steer someone where you want them to go rather than where they want to go doesn’t work. And I think that applies here. Rather than trying to tell customers they should shop with Curvy, we’re really glad and excited to allow them to continue shopping with Big Girls.”
Back from the brink
Between the Big Girls acquisition and US launch, Curvy has come a long way from its low point a few years ago, when it seemed like the business might not survive.
Blundy started Curvy in 2014 as a joint-venture with Bras N Things. When he resumed full ownership of the business in 2016, the loss of Bras N Thing’s referral traffic – not to mention its marketing expertise – was a big blow.
“Customer acquisition, not just the cost, but learning how to be good at acquisition, was something we hadn’t really had to focus on before,” he said.
The business didn’t have the resources to hire really good digital talent, so Blundy and the team taught themselves, learning through trial and error. There’s still room for improvement, he said.
“We’ve really struggled to fully leverage social media and influencers. In some ways, it’s nice to see that we’ve gotten to $6 million in revenue without having done some of the basics.”
Blundy attributes Curvy’s success to its strong focus on the customer, noting that it was able to maintain an NPS in the 70s even when orders were taking longer during Covid.
“What we have found is that it’s really easy to start out being customer-focused and customer-driven, and then you grow and there are a lot of compromises along the way. You go from having awesome customer service to great customer service to good customer service. The next stop is mediocre,” he said.
“Adding in key metrics around customer service that we manage weekly helps us resist the natural drag towards mediocrity.”
Curvy’s revenue is now approximately 10 times higher than it ever was with Bras N Things on board. This growth has opened up new opportunities, such as its recent partnership with B1G1, an organisation that helps businesses support social causes.
“Every time a customer places an order with us, we’ll give money to provide services to a young woman in need,” Blundy said.
For its first month, Curvy has chosen to support the Academy of Root Development, which encourages young women in India to stay in education longer and provides them with information about family planning.