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The four golden lessons of founding a multi-million-dollar fashion empire

The Iconic Co-Founder Adam Jacobs reveals his lessons on launching a successful ecommerce company.

From brainstorming business names on a picnic table in inner-Sydney suburbia to running a multi-million-dollar ecommerce fashion company, The Iconic’s Co-Founder Adam Jacobs has come a long way in a very, very short time.

Australia and New Zealand’s leading online fashion retailer launched in 2011 when ecommerce was renowned for month-long delivery and discounted items.

But shaking up the status quo led Jacobs to soaring success. The Iconic moved warehouses every three months despite being in a space four times bigger than the previous location.

Adam Jacobs co-founded The Iconic - a fashion empire offering four times more products than David Jones and Myer put together.

Jacobs told the crowd at Business Chicks 9 to Thrive Summit the company’s first space was 100 square metres, stocked 20,000 items and shipped up to 50 parcels per day.

“About three months after we launched, we moved to our first outsourcing warehouse in western Sydney,” he says. “It was four times the size of the first one. We had 80,000 items of stock and we were shipping out 200 to 300 parcels per day at capacity.”

The company moved another three times until finding a warehouse two years ago – and they haven’t yet outgrown it.

“If you think back to the first space, to having two million items of fashion, that’s within six months in 2012 – that was really, really high,” Jacobs explained at the event. “It was super hard to do, no-one slept a whole lot, we worked tooth and nail to make sure the customer experience was maintained the whole time.”

The enormous growth, which is expected to reach A$1 billion in sales by 2021 according to The Australian Financial Review, makes the company bigger than David Jones and Myer put together four times over.

With incredible success comes several mistakes but also tremendous wins. Jacobs shares the “gritty, dirty and authentic” lessons he learned while establishing the successful ecommerce business.

  1. Fire faster

  2. “When you let someone sit in a role for too long, everyone around them suffers and you put your team back six months,” he says. “I’m a really patient, optimistic person but, sometimes, someone is just not the right fit for a role.

    “If the fit isn’t right, you need to take action on it.”

  3. Challenge rules

  4. “Innovation is often talked about as being the first person to do something – I don’t think that’s true,” Jacobs says. “Innovation is about being better at execution.

    “Rules are there to be challenged. We can reinvent the status quo.”

  5. Have a clear sense of purpose

  6. “I used to think great companies were made by great ideas and great strategies, it’s bulls***t,” the Co-Founder explains. “Great companies are made by a really clear sense of purpose, and then a whole lot of passion follows through.

    “As a leader, lead with purpose and follow through with passion.”

  7. Actions are louder than words

  8. “Brands are built by what you do, not what you say,” he says. “The Iconic wasn’t built by television ads, or bus ads, or radio ads – you might have seen those things, but that’s not where our brand was built.

    “It was built in that warehouse at midnight when every staff member was working to get the parcel out on time. They’re the stories you tell your friends about.”

Want to be inspired by even more incredible business leaders? Business Chicks is hosting their 9 to Thrive Summit with new speakers in Melbourne 25 November 2019.

#TheIconic #BusinessChicks

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