How The Oodie made a young visionary very, very rich
Ever heard of The Oodie? Don't worry if you haven't - if you don't know have a close relationship with a tween it's understandable.
But on platforms such as TikTok you might find yourself in the minority.
And just to give you a taste of why you should be interested - The Oodie - pronounced like "hoodie" - is the basis for a $200m-a-year business run by a 26-year-old e-commerce expert out of an unassuming headquarters just to the south of the Adelaide CBD.
Oh, and Oodies - oversized plush hoodies with a front pocket, covered in playful designs - are ridiculously comfortable.
It's a message that has a very willing audience on social media, where The Oodie, with social media specialist Linda Huynh leading the charge, racks up likes and views in the millions.
A recent Tiktok of Ms Huynh doing a "transitions" video, in which she seamlessly changes different Oodie styles, has garnered 1.2m likes, 24,900 shares, and 11,300 comments.
They are numbers for which any social media manager would die, and they're also the underpinning for a process which Davie Fogarty, the founder of the company behind The Oodie, Pupnaps, and five other e-commerce brands, believes can propel his company - Davie Group - on to the ASX within the next year.
Mr Fogarty has a few failed tilts at business success under his belt. A Vietnamese roll shop, selling singlets and seasonings on the web - but along the way, crucially, he taught himself how to market and sell online.
"I've always been into digital marketing and content creation. I learned all of the skills that were required to launch an e-commerce business," he said.
"I launched Calming Blankets and The Oodie in 2018 really close together.''
Calming Blankets - selling weighted blankets marketed as being able to reduce anxiety and helping people relax - took off first.
"But then The Oodie took off because it built a really strong brand and following, and a strong community where people would share it with their friends and family.''
The strength of The Oodie's online following has certainly not abated. The brand's Facebook page has more than 140,000 followers, and a recent post simply pointing out the official Oodie outlets currently has more than 4400 comments, many gushing with adoration.
"I ordered pizza Oodies for my hubby and I. They are so freaking awesome. So soft and perfect for chilly nights,'' one comment reads.
And again, if you're not up to speed on what a "pizza Oodie" is, all good.
The company has a number of designs, many playful animal motifs, but also picks up on internet memes or trends such as the adoration of garlic bread, which is for some reason a sticky topic among some communities, and if you love pizza, why not celebrate that through your choice of leisurewear?
But at the more serious end of the marketing spectrum, Mr Fogarty's company has done deals with Disney and Warner Bros, bringing brands such as Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Mandalorian into the fold.
It has also just struck a deal to collaborate on an Ugg Boot range.
Mr Fogarty said the deals with Disney and Warner Bros had unlocked new customer demographics for the company, and other licensees continued to reach out to the company.
When The Oodie launched, Mr Fogarty said there were a few competitors in the market, along with the Snuggie - the wildly successful blanket with sleeves which had its moment in the sun a few years ago.
The Oodie set itself apart with a different shape, bold patterns, but also high-quality fabric.
"By doing that we were able to get better reviews and more repeat customers, so we really tried to make it the best quality product as well.''
Mr Fogarty said a lot of competitors were drop-shipping products straight from China, and they were thin and poor quality.
"We're really focusing on how to improve the product as well, because we think there's a lot of iterations to go.''
These include being able to print on demand, allowing customers to, for instance, have their dog's face on an Oodie.
The business has so far been entirely self-funded but that could soon change.
While The Oodie seems like a lot of fun, the secret sauce according to Mr Fogarty, is the marketing and e-commerce platforms which sit behind it, which he says can be replicated to sell many other products.
It's this expertise and intellectual property which he believes can be the underpinning for a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in the not-too-distant future.
And in terms of markets, the company is just scratching the surface.
"Being self funded, we've had to be careful about where we allocated our capital," Mr Fogarty said. "We launched in the UK about 12 months ago I believe, and it grew quite rapidly and then we launched in Canada.
"And now we're slowly going to the US as well. We're exploring other markets like Japan as well.''
Part of the company's process is a testing and iteration method, carried out through online marketing channels, which gives it an early indication of whether a product will fly.
"Through Facebook we can do that quite accurately,'' Mr Fogarty said.
"I think we have about 250 products in development at the moment.''
The company has also learned a lot about quality and assurance from its manufacturers in China and managing an international logistics chain.
Davie Group now employs about 120 people, with 60 in Australia, and Mr Fogarty says it is on track to do more than $200m in revenue over the next 12 months.
"We're looking to take on investors now and grow our business, and hopefully IPO on the stock exchange one day,'' he said.
"We're focusing on investing in and working with really talented families to grow their brands as well because we have this really successful framework … and we're trying to find ways to pass that knowledge along and grow things as a collective.
"I think the group as a whole is just getting started. We have created this process and now we can just apply that to more product categories. The Oodie is 100 per cent just getting started.
"We're entering the clothing space, we're going to do a bath range as well. Anything that provides people comfort and happiness. We need to make sure we make really unique, high-quality products, and then follow that process.''
Originally published as How The Oodie made a young Adelaide visionary very, very rich