If only we had a tally for the amount of times we have heard that over the last few years. People from the outside looking in seem to have a preconceived idea that just because the TradeMutt brand and our shirts are popping up across the country that the business is killing it. I guess that means our marketing is working right?
This may come as a surprise, but it’s not all gluten free beer and low sugar skittles. And from conversations we’re having, we’re not the only business who is feeling the pressure right the way through the supply chain…
2021 was a challenging year for us, like many other small business owners around the world. However our challenges were not like the hospitality industry, much different. We simply could not keep up with demand! Our supply chain was smashed with covid and we just could not get our products made and delivered to SendAble quick enough. Now before you say “Oh, you should just make it in Australia”, that’s easier said than done - particularly when the cost of manufacturing on shore means the consumer would likely be paying double for the same product.
With demand the way it was and the uplift in support for our brand, we went big on inventory and forecasts to try and keep up and ensure that we were servicing the demand from the blue collar community. But a lot can change in 6 months….
Since November last year, any business that relies on importing goods has experienced what could be described as a ‘perfect storm’. The atrocity that is taking place in Europe has driven up fuel prices to almost double what they were during the pandemic. The boats that transport goods then thought they would travel at a lesser pace to reduce fuel consumption and save a few bob, yet our price to ship goods from overseas has more than tripled! And they still don’t arrive at port in time because the backlog means they’re left in a holding pattern off the coast. Australia’s building and construction industry is getting absolutely smashed with materials shortages and skyrocketing costs which is seeing many businesses that have only just been hanging on forced to close their doors. And to top it all off, everyone's mate Zuckerberg thought it would be a good idea to increase advertising costs in his own perfect little universe as well which means Zuck is feeling the squeeze too. Cheers Mark.
Now you're probably thinking, what's your point?
We are one of many, many businesses out there who are experiencing a rapidly changing landscape with supply chain squeeze and decreased consumer confidence. The flow on effects of this for many businesses and individuals out there can be extreme. And like mental health, what you see on the outside very rarely reflects what is happening on the inside. So before you turn around to say “You must be killing it”, stop and think to yourself, would you say to someone who looked happy on the outside, “You mustn't have any mental health challenges at all”? No, because we all know, now more than ever, that everyone struggles, no matter how good their “marketing” is. The fact of the matter is that it’s a real grind out there.
So what is the take away then?
Now is the most important time in recent memory to ensure that your purchasing decisions are conscious ones. Small to medium enterprise represents roughly 57% of Australia's GDP making them the backbone of our economy. This is why it is so important to support local.
If you need workwear whether it’s for yourself or for a business, choose TradeMutt. For us, supporting a Social Impact workwear business means that 50% of our profits are contributed to TIACS.org, making free mental health support free, easy and available to all, not just tradies. It also means creating disability employment for our friends at SendAble who take a great deal of pride in sending out orders every day in an environment where they feel valued and supported to succeed. And finally, with TIACS councilors being inundated with calls and texts every day from vulnerable members of society, we know many people are doing it tough. There has never been a more important time to send a very visible message to everyone you interact with on a daily basis that opening up about lifes challenges is not only encouraged, it is also the first step to working through it.
Don’t always believe the marketing. Instead of assuming that a business or an individual is “killing it”, instead ask them, “How are you actually doing?”
Dan, Ed & the TradeMutt team