Alex Miles/ Co-Founder — Quiet Rebellion
To herald the beginning of the Christmas run-in, here is an interview with the Founder of Quiet Rebellion — the scale-up bringing rebellious amusement through socks to city folk.
What’s Quiet Rebellion all about?
We’ve been going for 3 years, we sell socks, boxer shorts, shirts and bags. Socks are dominant! The name explains the concept. We both worked in the city, we wore suits, we were bored, frustrated. We had a grudging acceptance that we had to wear suits and look smart but felt we didn’t have to necessarily feel boring. Quiet Rebellion offers that splash of colour, a little light-hearted fun. Slightly tongue in cheek — a wry smile on your face in the morning. If you hate your job it wont solve those issues, but it might give you a little amusement.
“Our purpose is to make you look smart and feel colourful. Every Quiet Rebellion product has a cheeky hidden pattern which celebrates a rebel who has gone against the grain for the greater good.”
How did you get started?
Setting it up was relatively easy. We set it up without much cash. We found some quality raw material, bought a few pairs of socks, got a website and started selling… Straightaway we realised how seasonal we were. After the Christmas period we needed capital. We went through two fundraising rounds to give us the growth capital to scale and expand our range. The business is relatively well-organised now. We could triple in size and the infrastructure would still stand.
Who helped you along the way?
Our greatest asset has always been our customer base. Customers drive us and the statistics on our customers drive our valuation. We’ve chosen to outsource to help us scale up to meet demand. We outsource our PR, production and distribution. Originally, we had boxes of socks in our bedrooms.
What made you decide to outsource?
The distribution side is an example of something that we want to have as little to do with operationally as possible…we want to not think about that, have it off our plate. If we shut up shop for a month we’d want the business to keep going, but we need visibility. If we are worried we can look, we can see it, we don’t need to ask, it gives us reassurance.
We spend our time thinking about our customers
Our intention is to communicate with them exactly as much as they would like us to. We’ve tried to avoid asking too many questions but actually we’d love to know more; how best to acquire them and what it would take them to stick with us. We spend a lot of time working out the best way of talking to customers; the right conversation topics, new products.
Can girls be quietly rebellious too?
We do stock small sized socks, so the smaller-footed can buy now, but at the moment our brand is aimed at men. It’s just a case of focus. There are lots of different ways we can take the business.
What has been the best way to get in front of your customers?
80% of our sales are online through our website and we have a variety of marketing channels. Organic word of mouth is still really important to us and we have also gone for paid marketing — paid social, aiming to attract people to the site. Priority is to encourage people onto our mailing list so we can tell them about our products as Christmas approaches. Partnering with other companies has been really effective — a shared endorsement.
How are you feeling about the new Customer Data Protection Regs (GDPR) that are coming out?
It shouldn’t impact what we do too much. I don’t see it as a compliance burden. We are in no danger of not being compliant. In terms of seeing it as a positive, if it encourages a culture of people providing information and getting something in return then it’s good as a super-level cultural movement. GDPR might change the way customers think. If we can ask more intelligent questions using technology in a compliant way, then that’s ideal for a business like ours.
What has been a burden?
On the outsourcing side, we’ve had a few shockers. The first distribution centre we went to would send the wrong items out — ever so slightly odd sized socks. We’d started off with anyone who would take us into their warehouse, our volumes were so small. But soon we suffered from inconsistencies. We were spending a lot of time on customer service, dealing with errors.
What did you do about it?
We moved to a more sophisticated warehouse. Having to move is an admin burden, tiring and expensive but it was worth it. We’ve got a brilliant end to end service now.
Could we have done anything differently? I sometimes wonder. Looking back it was probably a necessary stepping stone. Perhaps we could have realised at the time that everything wasn’t going to be perfect straight off. Would have saved us some stress.
I’ve got to say, I love the brand, I love the product and the socks are fully on hubby’s gift list. This is a business that knows their market intimately. I just wish they’d look beyond accessories to a full-on cultural movement. Everyone’s miserable! Come on, let’s start a somewhat louder rebellion…
For now, get your socks at www.quietrebellion.com.
Also featured: PORT are looking to take the pain out of GDPR compliance.