- Byron Bay-based Danny Clayton is a pioneer of the surf leggings trend.
- Her brand, Salt Gypsy, uses recycled fishing nets and plastic ocean waste to produce sustainable surfwear.
- Salt Gypsy clothing is Australian made and Clayton is one of the first brands to be part of the new Amazon Launchpad store for startup brands.
Danielle Clayton’s wish was a simple one, but harder to fulfil than she expected: a pair of leggings to protect her from the sun while she worked as a surf instructor in the Maldives.
It was 2012 and the former Billabong sales rep took matters into her own hands on a trip to Bali, getting someone to make them for her there.
But that experience was to have a profound influence on her future. Shocked by the waste, pollution and labour conditions she witnessed, it sparked her on a crusade to do and be better. She set out to build the kind of company her younger self would have wanted to work for.
Her brand, Salt Gypsy, began as a blog, but as a child of the 80s, growing up in New Zealand where the commitment to recycling and environmentalism are as powerful as an All Blacks backline, Clayton, a pioneer of surf leggings, went on a quest “to do things properly, as my dad taught me to do”.
By 2015, she’d sourced high-grade “regenerated” Italian nylon (think recycled fishing nets, plastic ocean waste, carpet and textile offcuts) and Salt Gypsy, the surfwear brand hit the market.
“Building a sustainable business means being as socially and environmentally responsible as possible using the resources available to us,” Clayton tells Startup Daily.
Salt Gypsy has evolved into a women’s surf, swim and activewear brand that’s a rare Australian-made clothing manufacturing success story.
Focusing on what you do best
Now the Byron Bay-based entrepreneur is in pioneer mode once again, featuring as one of the launch brands on the new Amazon Launchpad store for startup manufacturers.
Clayton says funding and scaling Salt Gypsy has been her biggest challenge, because doing things properly is never cheap.
“Funding our growth is definitely the biggest challenge I consistently face and we are constantly doing back-to-back production runs to try and keep up with the demand for our products,” she said.
“Another challenge is the cost of freight and fulfilment logistics. As a small business, we are faced with higher freight charges and the cost of in-house fulfilment.”
Clayton – Danny as she’s known – has worked hard over the last seven years to cultivate direct relationships with her customers and online retailing has been a key part of her strategy, but dealing with the logistics of distribution has taken her away from what matters to her most in the business.
A solution arrived one day in the form of an email from Amazon asking if she’d like to be part of Launchpad.
“Initially, it was the opportunity to utilise Amazon’s FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon] service and offer our top-selling styles that was a real drawcard for me as this will save our small business much-needed time, money and human resources,” Danny said.
“These are all things that could be better invested back into our product development, manufacturing of inventory and in-house marketing efforts. Then the marketing support offered by the Amazon Launchpad team so far and discussions around launching into the US has also been really encouraging and much appreciated!”
The biggest surprise she’s had working with Launchpad is being able to tell Salt Gypsy’s story of sustainability.
“The opportunity to share our brand’s story through Amazon Australia’s channels has been awesome and humbling,” she said.
Making women happy
The thrill of her job is knowing women feel great wearing Salt Gypsy gear.
“Whether I’m serving them in-store at our Sea Bones boutique in Byron Bay or it’s a review from an online customer who tried on their new pieces at home or in the surf for the first time, that tangible change in confidence when a woman is comfortable and feeling awesome in skintight lycra confirms why I started this in the first place: to feel good and surf better,” she said.
“By making sun protection look cool and surf gear that’s actually practical, it makes space for women to focus on their activity, rather than appearance. Plus, if we can help reduce the effects of sun damage and the number of skin cancers then I’d be pretty stoked.”
Danny has now set her sights on working with Amazon Australia to help the business reach new markets and customers overseas.
“I am excited to maximise the opportunity available to us through Amazon Launchpad and the Amazon Australia team working with us,” she said.
Danny’s advice for anyone considering entering the online retail space is simple, and like her and her brand, heartfelt.
“Make a really good product people actually need in their life – and every day strive to make it better,” she said.
“Also, be prepared to live and breath the definition of tenacity.”
While the startup entrepreneur is blessed to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, where she can still enjoy her love of the surf, she understands how online offers her the potential to be a global business from a regional area and knows how important human interaction will be to any business relationship.
“While e-commerce continues to boom, at the end of the day humans are tactile creatures so there will always be a place for brick and mortar retailers and for consumers to try on garments instore,” she said.
“As an example, by having our Sea Bones store in Byron Bay, I’ve had insight into how social media drives traffic to your bricks and mortar store.
“For online retailers having a sound returns and exchange system or policy is imperative. And for DTC [direct-to-consumer] brands, I think the vertical concept and pop up stores will continue to be integral to the overall brand strategy. Consumers like to meet the people behind the brand!”
To find out more about how Amazon Launchpad can help your startup grow and succeed, check out the details online here.