Made Status Clothing CEO Marty Cornish takes Ragtrader through the brands humble beginnings, which saw Cornish risk everything he had to launch his own clothing label.
Tell me about the early foundations of Made Status Clothing. What prompted you to launch the business and how did you secure your first accounts?
I was raised in humble beginnings and grew up with a single mother and younger sister. We often had very little food and our electricity would be cut off. I was a 'D" & "E" student at School and was the kid who didn’t have, what the other kids did. I’m very thankful for these early challenges as it made me have learn some valuable life lessons; If you want something in life you should go out and earn it, hustle for it.
During the School holidays, I would walk a few km each day to a local golf course and spend hours in the sun searching for lost golf balls. I would find them, take them home and clean them over night. The next day I would walk back to the Golf Course, set up a little pop up shop selling my merchandise back to the golfers for $2 and $3 making 200% and 300% profit. As I got older and started my career in adverting and sales, I was exposed to some of the biggest fashion brands in action sports in Australia. I started to get a small insight into the industry and lifestyle, which was really appealing to me. I started doing some research into Australian screen printers, started thinking of what my brand proposition would be, and what would be the purpose to start this project. Then I came up with the vision, what I believe the brand would be, the reason why it would exist.
"To inspire dreams chasers all around the world; to come from nothing to something.”
We then secured our future by looking at brands who shared a similar vision to Made Status, and looked to see who their supplier was and where they got their stock. I then researched the company to get contact numbers, so I could create a database of possible candidates to manufacture the brand. I would than cold call them and introduce Made Status Clothing.
That then lead me to travelling interstate to visit their locations to catch the vibe of their personal vision. By Playing the numbers game we did find some success through selling our vision, what our beliefs are, and sent samples, and started to build real relationships.
What were the biggest challenges you encountered in growing the business in the early days?
In the early days, we had many challenges like all start-up’s do, and what makes it even harder is when you’re building your own brand from scratch. I initially went for a $20,000 loan, it was declined.
I sold my car and used every single dollar I had to my name to use as working capital for Made Status Clothing. I was operating with very little clarity on our brand message, on who our ideal customer was, how we were going to generate online sales and how we were going build a sustainable business model.
That lead me to operating from a place of stress and uncertainty. I no longer had an additional source of income and it ended up with me literally saying “make this work or be a failure”. I had no work life-balance, and was very unhealthy. I was camping myself to everyone, trying to understand, finding the answers and strategy on how I could make this thing truly work. It’s one thing to re-sell an established trusted brand, it’s a whole different level building your own with no marketing budget, when all the odds are already against you.
How is Made Status Clothing funded?
We've achieved everything to date organically. No investors. 100% independent. No loans. We believe it’s important at this stage to remain self-funded. It’s a decision to make this work based around our values, and vision.
What was the initial expansion strategy and at what point did the brand expand?
Initially we made every mistake imaginable and I felt like we had tried everything. We went after independent wholesale accounts such as SEO, Blogging, Google adverbs, affiliate campaigns, Instagram influencers, Facebook advertising etc.
You name it, I have most likely tried it or read about it. It all shifted when we changed our mindset and focus. We started to focusing on building a brand and chasing the vision, not sales. This taught us to gain more patience in the Marco environment of the business. Not comparing ourselves to others.
Gaining the confidence in really developing our dreams, vision, and not caring about what the non-believers have to say. We started to surrounding ourselves with new business leaders and what they had to say. We then travelled to America, visiting LA, NYC, Detroit (8 mile), Boston, to meet some of our loyal customers and spent a lot of time on Fairfax in LA to study how we could develop our brand so we could fit in between the lines of society.
Really living the lifestyle of an already developed brand. Instead of trying to market to the mass, we focused on going deep, not wide into our customer’s avatar. We started making sure that our customers knew what our beliefs were and what our vision was. That then gave us a good understanding of our customers wants and needs.
What are the best performing lines?
We’ve had a couple different product ranges go great. We had the Hustlers Ambition, Pablo Dream Chasers, Ambition and “MADE” that hit the top of our sales.
How do you approach production?
We’ve done a lot of research on Alibaba, had many meetings to find exactly what we’re after, and what our expectations are. Gone backwards and forwards through the sampling process, working out the correct size charts, pantone colours and quality control.
We want to work with only the best, the ones who are working with the big international streetwear brands - we literally went on a mission to find these factories deep in China and Vietnam so we could move into an established brand - one who uses “cut n sew”. I was watching a streetwear documentary, and it stated that no one ever takes you seriously until you start “cut n sew”.
We still ship everything via by air and express for our overseas customers, as speed and time is our number one asset. However, we still do all our screen printing and blank tees through our Australian suppliers. We deal directly with all our suppliers. I don’t like middle men. I want to deal with the guys on the ground and front line. I like to get shit done.
eCommerce, how do you approach this area? Is it a substantial part of the business?
It’s our core focus at this stage. Even though 30% commerce is bought online. My thoughts are to build a real brand, with brand value, with demand and hype. Instead of trying to leverage big accounts which isn’t in line with our vision. We can deal direct to consumer, make bigger margins, remain authentic, build real community, and once demand is truly established look to partner and link up with the international accounts - with the potential for our own flag ships.
What are some of the growth plans?
We’ve never been this excited as a team to see the vision really start to come to life. We feel things are really starting to come together. Building trust. Building a vision which inspires and makes a real difference in others to make real lasting impact. Being truly in line with our purpose and vision. We’ve recently teamed up with multiple elite American NFL athletes whose values are 100% in line with the brand, along with New York Hip-hop artist Austin Awake, who’ve connected and represented our vision.
We have also linked up with some really dope sneaker head guys in Europe and Canada. We’re also launching a new video product which is something we are all really excited about. We’ve really remained patience and invested the time into learning our craft. Now it’s just a matter of putting in the work and reaching our full potential.