June 17, 2024

Seven years ago Nikki and Adam Clarke took a gamble and invested $20,000 to start an online business.
Now their maternity activewear brand, Cadenshae, has been worn by the likes of Katy Perry and Olympic athletes – so how did they start a successful online business?
”It took a long time,” Nikki admits.
The idea came about after their first daughter, Caden, was born in 2013 and it took about 15 months to get it started. They launched in 2015 when their second daughter was born.
“The hardest part was sourcing the right suppliers and getting the product right.”
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Nikki had an idea in her head of what she wanted to make, but finding someone to make it took a lot of time.
Her sister helped with their first website and she and Adam worked together on the designs as well as raising their two kids.
At first, she made a Facebook page so she could share with family and friends what they were doing and to build a bit of hype.
“Then once the website was ready and product arrived we were ready to launch. It was great right from day one as there really was nothing else on the market like it,” she says.
Sales were consistent and by about 18 months to two years in, they had a lot of growth, month on month.
By the time the couple had their fourth baby things were taking off in the North American market.
Their success of the business came down to a number of things, Nikki said.
They included building a strong brand and a community, ensuring the business was well-rounded and sustainable, passion, reliability, authenticity and a lot of hard work and determination, she said.
“Sometimes it feels like you are up against it, being a small brand from NZ, competing with the likes of Nike and, more locally, Lorna Jane.
“It’s been tough but connecting with our community of mothers and being a female/mother-led company that genuinely cares about mothers and our customers has meant we have developed a very strong, fiercely loyal community.
“Looking back it seems easier … but at the time it was a real grind.”
Xero’s head of marketing for NZ, Emma Scoringe, said there were a number of things business owners could do to give them a better chance of success if they were starting out.
She said they should prioritise their customers, think long term, invest in good technology, have a business plan and be targeted with digital marketing.
“Be genuine, you’re not just making a sale but acquiring a customer, and you want them to come back and buy from your brand again.
“From your website as your shop window to your online ordering system and payment services, make it smooth and easy for customers to buy from you.”
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