Gary Elphick, CEO of, talks disruptive retail. Catch him at Online Fashion Success in June.

What is your previous experience in the fashion industry?

I come from a marketing background in sport and technology, I’ve led campaigns in technology for various fashion brands and retailers. My main focus has always been on the intersection of technology and creativity.

What is your day to day role?

CEO / Chief fire-fighter. I start the morning at working with our US and UK teams, reviewing orders and challenges and anything they need to hand over to be ready for when they wake up.

During the day I work on:

· Reviewing the digital platform development

· Discuss product and design development with the design and production teams

·Work with the partnership team on new partner ideas and how current ones are progressing

· Fit in a little time for what I love which is marketing and PR

· The day is usually finished by delivering everything to the overseas teams and chatting through anything we need done overnight.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

When people call, post, email and tell us the stories of their design and what it means to them. People are incredibly creative and always surprise me with their ideas applied to our platform.

We’re the facilitator of their ideas and bring that creativity to life. That’s the special moment for me!

What about the most challenging?

In a growing company, you just never have enough time or enough resources.

There are lots and lots of things to get done.

What keeps me awake at night is keeping our returns at where they are, close to zero despite having a 365 day return policy). Being a stickler for quality.

What's your proudest moment at the company?

We try to celebrate all the wins, no matter how small but two things stick out.

The first is when we had a guy get in contact to help make a surfboard with his late Mum’s photo on it, after a long phone conversation he opened up that she had recently passed and he grew up surfing with her.

He made a request that we try and put her ashes in the board. It’s certainly not something we offer however the team felt so connected to this guy that they made it their mission to make it happen.

I think some tears were had over the delivery of this one.

Then last year, we won New Online Retailer Of The Year.

It was a point when we were working 14 hour days and all very tired, it gave us the confidence that what we’re doing mattered to a lot of people, it’s also nice to dust off that suit for a social event and be recognized by some of the biggest online retailers.

What do you see as the biggest change in the industry?

My three biggest are:

1. Distributed manufacturing This is what 3D printing has kickstarted and it’s how our business it set up. Manufacturing will begin moving as close as possible to the customer, be it in a more agile and automated way. We’re going to see less bulk manufacturing, less 12 month seasonality buying cycles and much more on-demand manufacturing.

2. Co-collaboration A lot more interaction of consumers and brands, less of a push and more of co- collaboration on designs and styles. People want to be part of the process and understand how and where things are made. Be the facilitator or people telling their own stories.

3. Retail as an experience Both the above play into this. Retail should be less about the transaction of buying something and more about your interaction with the brand, how do you experience their interactive design studios, talks, VR and AR.

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