Bohemian Traders is a fashion brand based on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, founded by Creative Director Emily Berlach in 2014; Emily and David Berlach run the business together as co-Directors.
“Neither of us had a background in fashion. I worked in commercial construction and Emily was a high school visual arts teacher,” explains David.
Bohemian Traders started out as a blog that Emily had been writing for a number of years. “This was before Instagram was a big deal,” jokes David. “We jumped in together [in 2014] just thinking it’d be a nice little business. But it all took off very quickly,” he recalls.
Within a few months of launching their first products, Bohemian Traders was growing rapidly, largely due to the audience Emily had built on her blog and social media channels. So the couple decided it was time to go all in. “I gave my three months notice in July 2014,” says David. “When I finished that September, the business had doubled in size every month since July.”
For its first three years in business, Bohemian Traders grew 170% year-on-year. “We didn't spend any dollars on direct paid marketing for about five years. It was all organic from Emily’s blog and social media channels,” explains David.
Building a brand that can scale
From day one, David and Emily were focusing on building a brand rather than just being an eCommerce store. “We’ve always built with that in mind,” says David.
Now, Bohemian Traders has a team of 23 employees. The majority of its sales come in through its online store, but David and Emily also have a two of bricks and mortar boutiques (with a third on the way), as well as having wholesale relationships with retailers within Australia and internationally.
“The goal is to continually build a brand and awareness of the brand,” he adds. “We’ve always focused predominantly on being a direct-to-consumer business. Wholesale channels play an increasingly important part for us, but our goal is always to be serving the customer directly where we can.”
David believes that Bohemian Traders has barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in the Australian market. But they’re also looking overseas to unlock further growth opportunities. “We shipped internationally from the get-go. But just this year we've really put a concerted effort into paid spend overseas and we're in the process of building out a US-based website which will service US-based customers.”
Working with Wayflyer to support international expansion
When Wayflyer was first put on David’s radar, Bohemian Traders wasn’t in a place where he felt they needed revenue-based financing. “But Jack [one of Wayflyer’s Australian team] put us in touch with a fashion-specific digital agency in Sydney, The Thoughtful Agency. That was a really nice introduction and we’re seeing great results with them.”
Then four or five months later, as Bohemian Traders began to solidify its international expansion strategy, they decided to give Wayflyer a try.
“For a fashion brand like ours there are always parts of the business to invest money into — inventory costs and marketing costs, and all of that kind of stuff,” says David. “We were going to ramp up spending for international digital marketing, so the Wayflyer funding just plugged straight into our cash flow to support that.”
“We were going to ramp up spending for international digital marketing, so the Wayflyer funding just plugged straight into our cash flow to support that.”
“Plus, knowing the kind of returns we’re seeing with our ads, the funding seemed like a sure bet,” he added.
Bohemian Traders has always been “pretty conservative” when it comes to finance. “We’re an independent business - we don't have any investors other than ourselves. There's no venture backing or anything like that.”
“We just thought it was worth trying out the system,” explains David. “Revenue-based finance is an interesting model and we wanted to test out how it could fund some of our campaigns as we push more into the US market.”
A partner that understands eCommerce
David and Emily are meticulous about finances. “Taking on funding is something we always look at with caution,” says David. But Wayflyer’s understanding of eCommerce and straightforward processes assured him that we were the right partner.
“The connection process linking into BigCommerce was straightforward. Once we’d connected to Wayflyer, we could see the different funding offers available to us. Then after speaking to the Wayflyer team and landing on the right offer for us, it was super easy to get the funds deployed.”
"Once we’d connected to Wayflyer, we could see the different funding offers available to us. Then after speaking to the Wayflyer team and landing on the right offer for us, it was super easy to get the funds deployed.”
David was also in discussions with other finance in the eCommerce space, but in the end chose us because “Wayflyer was more competitive on the pricing and also a bit more flexible in terms of how we can use the funding and how it's deployed within our business,” David explains. “Nick, Jack, and the Wayfllyer team have been helpful, friendly, and easy to deal with,” he adds.
Bohemian Traders has been working with Wayflyer for a few months now, taking multiple rounds of funding to support its growth ambitions. But the benefits David has seen from working with Wayflyer, aren’t only related to funding.
“It’s the relationship,” says David. “The first thing - being put in touch with a great agency in Sydney - that was a really, really great thing.”
“Now the relationship is there, Wayflyer can see how we work and we’ve seen how the funding process works. I can see how it makes it easy to scale up with funding when necessary. For a business like ours which has eyes on expansion in the US and Europe, we can see how this will help us grow [without diluting equity in the business].”
Wayflyer also supports customers with insights sessions so they can optimize performance and maximize their growth. “Wayflyer jumped in and did a deep dive on our Facebook marketing,” says David. “We’re always happy to get a third-party review of our ads accounts and it keeps people accountable. The session gave us a good list of small tweaks and tests that we can run to try and improve and create better returns, but also acted as a great confirmation of the strength of what we were already doing.”
From blog to an international fashion brand, it’s been quite a ride for Bohemian Traders and its founders Emily and David. “[When this was taking off] I thought I was gonna grow veggies, go surfing and Em would run the business and pay the mortgage,” jokes David about the beginnings of his entrepreneurial journey. But now, nearly eight years later, he couldn't be more excited with the trajectory of Bohemian Traders and its ambitions for the future. And living by the New South Wales coast means the surf is never too far away, anyway.