When starting a business, it’s every entrepreneur’s dream to see real growth year over year. Doubling in growth from the year before would make any entrepreneur jump up and down on their bed with excitement, but can you imagine if that growth continued exponentially? That kind of success would make you feel like you’re on a never-ending sugar high. Vitaly, a lifestyle unisex jewelry, watch and clothing brand based out of Toronto, has been on that continuous growth sugar high since opening in 2012.
With a team that has reached 25 people, products retailing in hundreds of stores across the globe, and a flagship store opening on Queen Street West in Toronto, Vitaly’s business is now a global success. But how did they do it?
In 2011, Shane Vitaly Foran, now Vitaly’s Founder and Designer, found himself in Ubud, on the island of Bali in Indonesia, where he was working with craftspeople and sketched his first piece of jewelry. When he returned home to Toronto, his friends loved the things he brought back, so he decided to merge his business smarts with his newfound passion. Within four years, Vitaly is now found not only in North America, but in over 15 countries, and their line of products has expanded with it.
But how did Vitaly have such tremendous and quick success with growing their business? “Our first few years were focused on driving online sales because it allowed for immediate cash flow,” Shane said. “We made social media our best friend as it was the cheapest way to drive awareness.” Since the beginnings, Vitaly has now grown its fan base on social media to over 300,000 followers. The key to that online success came from creating great content and being involved in their online community, Shane explained. “Find the people who influence your market and make sure they’re your best friend and have everything they need to tell your story.”
One of the biggest challenges that Shane identified with fashion brands is how long the cash flow cycle takes when it comes to wholesale. Once Vitaly had consistent cash flow from their online business, they eventually started working with countless major chains and big box retailers. “Cash flow is always the biggest challenge when it comes to a rapidly growing inventory-based company,” he said. “We have had to be very methodical with how we spend our money, through constant cash flow updates, applying for more credit, etc.”
The growth of Vitaly has even spiraled out into two other ventures that Shane and his business partner, Jason Readman have founded. Clocks and Colours, described as a wild and untamed collection of accessories for men, and a boutique consultancy, JRSV Consulting, which helps entrepreneurs open their first fashion and retail boutiques.
Futurpreneur Canada is excited to continue to watch this company grow and expand, and for words of advice for other entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, Shane said: “Focus on solving one problem at a time, but if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, move on. This will likely be the most difficult journey of your life, so be ready to give it absolutely everything you have and be ready to make sacrifices. But most importantly, be ready to face the possibility that your first path or maybe several paths may lead to dead ends. If that’s the case, pick yourself back up, find a problem that someone wants solved, and solve it for them.”
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada