Stax founders admit missteps before launching  million brand

Stax founders admit missteps before launching $52 million brand

A husband and couple have admitted that they “made every mistake” before growing their $52 million sportswear firm into an icon.

Don Robertson, 33, and Matilda Murray, 30, are the creators and co-owners of activewear brand Stax. They were ranked 78th and 79th respectively on the Financial Review’s Young Rich List 2022, capping a spectacular climb for their business, which began in a spare room.

Stax sells clothing ranging in size from XXS to XXXXL, and its new arrivals sometimes generate long lines.

It touts itself on its website as offering “flattering, premium activewear for men and women.” Gym attire suitable for a tough exercise or a leisurely lunch.

Its product line consists of $35 socks, $60 water bottles, $80 tights, and $30 brand-name underwear.

Despite the price, its popularity has continued to rise, with roughly 4,000 daily orders and a peak of 40,000 on Black Friday of last year.

TikTok celebrity Anna Paul made a visit at a Stax pop-up store in Perth in September, but authorities were forced to cancel the meet-and-greet due to the sheer magnitude of the throng.

In an interview with AFR Magazine, the husband and wife described their arduous path to success.

“We began in my mother’s spare room,” Robertson explained.

Eventually, we moved into Til’s father’s living room, obtained storage containers in Perth, and then relocated to Sydney. And the only Sydney storage facility we could afford was without electricity.

His wife continued, ‘Therefore, Don would don a headlamp and go pack orders. He would print off the Shopify order form, dash inside, retrieve the things, and pack them outside. Like, for a minimum of a year.’

Another issue was the countrywide Covid lockdown on March 23 in 2020, the same day the pair planned to launch their biggest collection to date.

They spent their life savings to shoot an ad for the line, named Premium Seamless V2, and also ordered a container full of merchandise.

However, tragedy struck as lockdown was announced, forcing the influencers they’d hired to stay home.

To make matters worse, the container full of products also went missing since China closed down before the rest of the world.

This compelled them to assess the future of the organization.

Matilda declared, “It was our greatest accomplishment to date.”

“We flew in influencers from across the nation to film the campaign. We had never done that previously.

It took three years to perfect the fabric, Don explained. It was enormous for us. Then, lockdown occurred. And we were forbidden from leaving the house.’

After eight weeks, the container was located, but Matilda was forced to model the collection in place of the hired influencers.

Fortunately for the pair, their collection sold out within one minute.

Matilda stated, “We literally drained our our accounts on this thing.” And we had no idea whether we would ever see the money or the clothes again. That was a pleasant morning to see it sell out.

Don also revealed that he had no plans to create a clothing store, but rather wished to own a supplement firm that supplied protein powder and other goods.

In 2012, he began selling clothing for his firm, Muscle Stax, and quickly realized the popularity of hats, hoodies, and similar goods.

However, in order to make ends meet, he was forced to take on many part-time jobs, which finally led to him meeting his future wife.

Matilda is credited for bringing Stax to the next level by adding a “woman’s touch.”

After over two years of pandemic restrictions and border closures, the couple married in January and had a quiet, private ceremony.

“When Til arrived, the leggings improved because to her vision,” Don explained. This showed me early on that if she is clear about a matter, it will succeed. On a few occasions, I have disregarded her counsel, and I have since learned my lesson.

The first Stax retail outlets were opened in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

They are planning to open additional locations in Queensland, Los Angeles, and London, and Don speculates that even more may follow.

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