Karla Rose and her sister Candice Rose-O’Rourke launched Zulu & Zephyr from their Bondi Beach sunroom in the summer of 2012. Through hard work and savvy use of social media, it soon became one of Australia’s leading lifestyle fashion labels.
“Our growth and marketing have all been very natural and authentic,” says General Manager Mel Colman. “We’re known for our effortless, holiday beach attire. We’re creative, we’re collaborative, we’re ‘no limits’. What’s not to love?”
Zulu & Zephyr by 2018 was selling through 120 independent boutiques and retail chains globally, with a 300,000-strong consumer following (actress Margot Robbie among them).
Those are big strides to take in so few years for a staff of 12—including Karla and Candice—but Zulu & Zephyr has only just begun.
Growing Pains and Buried Data
In the start-up phase, Candice pounded the pavement with samples to sell the story of Zulu & Zephyr to the right boutiques, winning them over with their intelligent, distinct aesthetic.
Buyers took a chance on a new brand backed by a cult following that gained momentum in its curated social media channels, Instagram in particular. Zulu & Zephyr’s followers wanted to be a part of the aspirational brand. Suddenly, it was more than just about buying clothes. It had become a lifestyle.
By 2015, the company was selling direct to consumers through Shopify and its growing list of stockists on JOOR. These channels fuelled company growth. Management, however, struggled to keep up with demand and knew that they had to streamline and quickly move from a small family business mindset to that of a medium-sized (and growing) company. By the end of the year, Zulu & Zephyr had relocated from a home garage to a large warehouse and from there.
Company data, like purchase orders, was buried in spreadsheets, making day-to-day operations hard and forecasting nearly out-of-the-question.
Matching orders with inventory in the warehouse was a pain. For example, Mel would export spreadsheets from Shopify and add formulas simply to match orders with available stock.
“It was very manual, very time-consuming,” Mel says. “We really needed real-time data access.”
Cin7 Improves Processes
Zulu & Zephyr turned to Cin7 in 2017 for that complete, up-to-the-moment visibility of all their purchases, sales and stock. Cin7 helps Zulu & Zephyr make better decisions about their products.
“With the click of a button, you have a complete overview of your on-hand stock value and incoming supplier orders,” Mel says.
It also made day-to-day operations easier and more efficient.
“Our warehouse and sales team already say this is a life-changer and it makes everything easier,” Mel says. “Our goods received now include supplier stock, and we receive that directly into the warehouse, eliminating any double handling. Cin7 streamlines everything for us.”
Real-time Costing, Accurate Margins
“I can create bulk purchase orders and our accounts team then adds in our supplier deposits and balance payments so we can get real-time costing,” Mel says. “That’s a big thing for us — We might need to change to a more expensive fabrication, or a delay meant we had to ship by air instead of by sea, all those things that happen with import/export. Cin7’s real-time data access lets us know exactly what our margins are when those things happen.”
What’s Next for Zulu & Zephyr
“For us, we really want to just fine-tune, to become stronger in what we’re offering and to grow global,” Mel says. “That’s our big thing: grow global, grow our suppliers, grow our team.”
Mel says Cin7 will help them to do that by giving them a clear understanding of their current business and the data to improve their forecasting
“Cin7 is helping us to make smarter business decisions via forecasting, seeing real-time stock on hand, our stock value sitting in the warehouse to actual sell-through and being across all elements of the business and streamlining all of that in one place.”