BEDROOM BRAND TO GLOBAL STREETWEAR BRAND | Bee Inspired | Our Story
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BEDROOM BRAND TO GLOBAL STREETWEAR BRAND | Bee Inspired | Our Story


Might just sit here with a subby suit on.
Say this is my career here. And then put some bandages on me. If this was a bench this
was our career. We were both playing professional football at the time and I just left a club called St Mirren And Steven just joined it and through a
mutual friend of ours Andy Doorman we just became really good pals. Steven lived with Andy at the time. And his missus moved over from America so Andy had to move into another flat.
Steven didn’t have anywhere to stay so he just moved there. It was the first time I actually moved
out of Dundee I think I’d played for Dundee United I’d moved to Glasgow when I was 25. I just became in a circle of friends,
Mark being one of those guys. We had a kind of coffee club
and we liked to come up with ideas after training What do you want to do after football? evan at that early stage we were still thinking
what we’re gonna do when we finish playing. Obviously trying to come up with an idea cause all through your career, when you’re coming towards the end of it you’re still thinking like what can I do next and it’s quite a daunting prospect. We weren’t fortunate enough to be in a position like a English Premiership
player were you can retire at the end of your career and maybe have a nice
luxury lifestyle thinking what actually are we gonna
do we’re going to have to get a nine-to-five office job or what’s it going to lead on to. Obviously I didn’t really happen overnight. We kind of went our separate ways for a while and obviously lived together and then I moved up to
Ross County and was playing football for Ross County a few years and then I got a bad injury
so I’d had a bad injury in my career and it came back and I got
injured in one game and I remember trying come back from, thinking I couldn’t come back and I was trying to get training and I was taking a lot of painkillers
every day try get her back in the fold and I remember playing one game at
Celtic park and came off the bench maybe just after half time and just
miles off the game I think we ended up getting beat four nil but
that day I remember thinking I can’t play at this level anymore so I really
need to start thinking about what I’m gonna do. I was fortunate enough to get a chance
to go play in Thailand at the time it was a total different opportunity for me and that was why I why I wanted
to go and do that but when football you you make friends but like you don’t
actually keep in touch with too many guys I think a lot of guys are like
that you’ve got almost a lot acquaintances but when I moved to Thailand
me and Mark kept in touch are we were still at the point like, what
we’re going to do, what we want to do? Thinking all the time there must be an opportunity
that can maybe make us some money outside the game and obviously like I
said and I got quite a bad injury and I was I was probably looking more
than Robbo at the time because I was sort of panicking like what can we do, what can we do,
and Robbo was like well I’m living the dream out here. Think you made some friends over there with some of the manufacturers over there. They were making some things for stalls and there was a few people making t-shirts. There was a few wholesalers that I got in touch with a few foreign guys, an Italian guy, French guys a couple of English lads and we were always in that friend circle a few of them were
supporters of the team I was actually playing for so it made that initial chat a lot easier saying I play for one of the teams in the city and then that led on and me going back to Coco saying I think we can maybe start a brand, what do you think? I remember when you first came to me and you’re were like do you think we should start a brand and I was like I don’t know and
it’s just that fear of not really knowing what to do, should we start this? and I was like I dunno, I dunno and a few people had known and started
them and I didn’t want to be like stepping on any toes, I didn’t wanna
offend anyone but I don’t know and then he was like c’mon, we’ll
just try it, he obviously just convinced me to do it which thankfully
was one of the best thing he done. Again it was like because
it was such a small investment we only like invested five or six
hundred pounds between us because we made friends
with these factories like super low minimum orders, there was the very little
risk involved for us but at the end the day that was all the money we probably
had at that time, like we didn’t have excess cash to go “right I’m going to invest
thousands of pounds in a business” It was very much, let’s put it in to a hobby and try and increase it and increase it. We’re doing it for the fun of it
as well a wee bit to start with. So we just come up
with these four designs. I think we got really low minimums, didn’t we? Yeah, it was like 25 pieces per style. A basic white tee but with a
graphic print. Yeah, we didn’t have any expertise in
design or really selling anything, or making a website or anything so
really to start with it was really organic so we just came up with these
designs, four designs we designed them on our iPhone. The football related one with the tactics. Yeah tried to tie it to football. A lot of skull, roses, the candy skulls Using some basic
ShutterStock files We had no skills for design or
anything like that and I think that’s where we’ve learned over the years, we
had to kind of self teach ourselves, we’re self-taught and a lot of the stuff
that we do in the business even to this day, regarding figures and
working with marketing team and all that. So we’ve managed to get these four
designs, obviously Robbo being around this manufacturer, managed to get
really low minimums and once they got designed they got sent over and I was
like right, what we gonna do with these. I think we just started on Facebook to start with? We had these four designs we set up a Facebook page, put these four designs on our Facebook and we managed
to get like a few footballers that we played with and against,
there were probably a lot better than us On the National and a few
Premiership players and Scottish Premiership players like Mark said, were better than us but were quite happy. It was kind of before that whole influencer marketing. Sort of the start of Instagram There was boys like…
From Scotland Steven Naismith, Charlie Mulgrew,
Scott Brown, Robert Snodgrass They’d all put it on their social media and pushed it and within
the first sort of week or two, we’d sold out sold out of the product,
the initial batch So we were buzzing off that. Once we did that we just took the money and we just reinvested it and invested in more product I actually maybe think we restocked
those same t-shirts and maybe added in another two Possibly I think our first website was like a big cartel website. Awful, wasn’t it?
We designed it ourselves It’s the things you had to do with no budget
but we just had to do something that could make it easier for the customer to
actual purchase the product. I think we were at the time we were looking for
sort of ideas, a bit of inspiration for the name of the brand and we were obviously
scouring lots of like social media and and coming up with really ideas of how we
were going to set the brand up so initially because we didn’t have any
design background. We had the initial four designs but
we’re thinking how we’re gonna get more designs and because we didn’t have a
great design background we were thinking how can we get people to design for us
or get a designer in and we kind of came up with an idea of like well if we can
get somebody design for us run like a competition we can use that person’s
designs and maybe give them like ten, fifteen of those t-shirts as well,
so we’ll maybe order like 50 and we’ll give them like 10 or 15 or order a batch and give them some of it. They could get a slice of the design. Or they could maybe sell it to their friends
or family or anything really and we thought that’s maybe a good way of
getting people to design for us maybe come up with constant designs. After our first four designs sold out so well we didn’t actually go down that route. That idea just got shelved, didn’t it? It kind of came with that idea that we’re trying to inspire somebody to design for us We were looking at that aspect and then
I think Steven had been scouring through social media. The early days of Instagram,
there was a few pictures I’d seen. It just turned out it was a sweetie
rapper with Bee Inspired written on it and it was a case of can we
just take away the bee and come up with a logo. Can we use that to… We always found that a lot of brand we’d seen all had just a logo instead of just text so we wanted a logo to start with which has changed over the years,
over the last few years anyway. So we tied in Bee Inspired with the little bee logo. We were using the platform to inspire people to
design for us so that’s kind of where the name Bee Inspired came from,
we just sort of ran with that, didn’t we? Because we’ve had like a lack of
design or skills yeah we just didn’t really have any designs, self taught Obviously trying to learn, I think we learned Photoshop in like six months between the two of us and the first ones were on our phones, so we were thinking that you can’t really sustain a brand if you’re designing or
it’s taking that long to design things on your phone. We just want
to give something back as well, what we try nowadays is give back
to the customer kind of make people feel part of the brand,
if you design for us then you can get some t-shirts and you can maybe sell
them and it kind of makes people feel part of the brand
rather than we just tell people want they want We kind of design most of our products based on what we feel the customer wants, we’ve got a lot at analytical data that we use and even the B33 we came up with due to the fact that a
customer, like we put that out there and the customers really like that so we
we just carried on using the B33 through through time. We try and get as much
feedback from a customer as much as possible now
and just looking at interacting through the emails and through the social media stories,
just trying to see what they want. It’s all fine and well what we want,
but we kind of know what the customer wants now just from
obviously the sales data that we’ve acquired over the last few years. It’s the customer that determines the direction of the brand a lot of the time just depending on what products that are showing up We’ve added in different branding over the years just like the B33 is a focal point
of the brand brand now I think it’s
recognizable on the street now so that when people see it they know whereas
previously we maybe just had the small small B logo that was the
product and people were probably noticing the design, not the actual brand The B33 wasn’t even an initial part of the brand. It was just something that
we included and got a good customer reaction It was probably two, three years,
two years maybe down the line. Yeah it was just like we started doing photoshoots with a couple of
samples that came in with the logo on the chest and it just kind of worked for
us. My time was kind of up in Thailand with the football I was just wanting to come home and sometimes when you get to a certain
age your mind starts to switch to like this hobby that we had is
kinda taken off into this brand, my focus was starting
to go away from football from having injury problems and stuff. I really enjoyed doing doing this type of idea so I moved back in…
it was kind of like fast forwarding the time and I moved back in
my Mark in Glasgow and then we were getting the products sent in and from
Thailand originally. I got a bad injury and I was thinking about
what to do so I remember I left Ross County and I went part-time at football
and then that sort of ended and for a six-month period I didn’t really have a
job or anything. I was kind of coming to terms with I wasn’t gonna be playing
football and I was I was really looking for that job and nothing was coming
along and I remember thinking like I’ve only really got two weeks sort of money left
before I’m gonna have to move out my flat. It sort of got to that
stage that I was thinking I may be gonna have to move up my parents, give up my flat
and sort of go from there but luckily I’d managed to get a job and
we’d sort of started Bee Inspired at the time Just scraping enough to get by For me, it was just enough to get by and I managed
to get a part-time contract with Stranraer at the time as well. That was the bonus with starting
Bee Inspired when we started it is because we had other income coming in. It definitely gave us the chance,
although we had a small investment in the brand but we had a weekly wage. It wasn’t too much pressure so we could reinvest
the money that any sales were coming in that could then get reinvested in
the next batch of t-shirts So we didn’t have to touch any money. And that was kind of a rule we set between us was like we don’t touch
any of the the money, the money stays in the bank account and it
gets reinvested and that probably happened for two years
really. Yeah just reinvested everything, didn’t we? Once we were at
stage we could take a small wage to replace our job that we’d actually given up that we could actually then carry on just building the brand As I was saying I got a bad injury and I was kind of thinking where am I gonna go in my career so I thought I’ll go part time and I’ll get a job
so I’d come back down the road and I was working in Reed Recruitment when the brand
first started We were getting designs over and the demand was getting higher and higher and I was getting stuff sent to work and I
posting stuff on my lunch hour so I was going to work, maybe taking
like 15, 20, 30 parcels to work with me and then on my lunch hour was just
spend all lunch in the post office posting them and then Steven’s
working in recruitment at that point as well. Yeah I came back and I went semi-pro with football and then
and also got a job in the city we used to walk into the town, it was like a
20-minute walk from the Gorbals. We used to walk into work, walk home and it’s just be discussing what we’re gonna do with the brand like what do we want to do, where do we want to go so you’d be working full-time we
still be playing part-time football so would be like Saturdays,
Tuesdays, Thursdays was taken up and any spare minute we got was the Wednesday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday Sunday night was just like let’s constantly work
on Bee Inspired and see where we can take it I think it, we maybe
did that for like three months before we were like right, this is kind of taking over our time like I was spending more time thinking about what was gonna do with
Bee Inspired than I was at Reed Recruitment and I was always
getting told what are you up to? I was always kind of living in my head a lot of the time just thinking about what we were gonna do and I think Stephen first of all said I
can’t do this anymore I’m gonna quit and I’m gonna go
full-time with a brand and I was like well I’ll just try and keep my job for a
wee while because it’s a bit precarious giving up your job. It’s quite daunting, isn’t it? The sales weren’t unbelievable. We never had a marketing platform, all
we were using was organic social media and again like the footballers, trying to
push the stuff as much as possible. As soon as we done it our full time hours were going into driving the business forward. It was just getting a little
bit out of hand the way it was growing and trying to stay in your job at the same time. Looking back, it was the best thing we ever done probably. Easily. When we gave up, it just accelerated, didn’t it?
Massively. We were working out of Mark’s
flat so when I came back from Thailand the stock room was Mark’s
bedroom and then the stock got moved up to the upstair and in my room there was
a bit more space in the far side so I was sleeping on t-shirts They were just piled up in boxes and then as we started reinvesting
the money and looking at, we started bringing in tracksuits which has been a
major part of our business over the last six year. Think that’s sort of what kicked us on a little bit Obviously we were selling t-shirts and there’s quite a few bedroom brands that had been doing t-shirts but nobody had really taken it
to the next stage and coming from football we knew what we liked in a
tracksuit, we knew what fit well and how we’d want to wear it so we’ve
kind of gone out of our way to try and find out how can we start a tracksuit. So many amendments, the tracksuit, the fit “oh I don’t like that”, Don’t get me wrong, the first couple were a disaster. We were at the stage now where the sales were starting to come in consistently like just using our social media
platforms and like just organic market and having more and more
footballers start to wear the product like right, we’re gonna take they take the plunge and go for like a little office space. I think we need to move out or my
missus would have left me. So we found a thousand square foot unit and we went in and were like “this is
far too big for us” We were panicking at the time and we don’t need this but we got a
bit of support from the government on that Initiatives that you
get some help with the rent and stuff like that Rent relief Which was a
massive help for us in the beginning Honestly, how quickly did that place fill up? We moved in the August and the Christmas just went mental This is big, are we going to need all this space? I think it was like the first Black
Friday that happened and I remember just sitting at that computer just printing. He’d had a hip operation, I remember being on a night out,
remember the night out we had in Edinburgh Aye, then we came back the next day. Obviously nobody really knew
anything about Black Friday we didn’t think it was gonna go too mad and we come back
on the Black Friday and there was just… There was a delivery as well there was 10 boxes and
the lift was knackered and there was a thousand, just thousands of orders Just bonkers, just sat at the table, you were printing and I was packing I didn’t leave that table all day, just printing. We did it in a horrible old-school way of like copy and paste every address
copy and pasting on to a label It was so manual, it was just the two of us as well we had maybe had like one helper, one worker at the time so to actually then just
like see the growth of the business and the following two, three years was just
like that it was just like phenomenal from every Black Friday we’ve had
you just see the difference of like the scale operation that’s going on. That first one of copying and printing labels, then doing the franking machine,
I think, like I say it was like thousands orders and we were
just doing it so manually I think it took us like two days just to print and pack
the orders. Aw man, that was a shift. At that point we’d got
tracksuits and they were working really well for us, Yeah, that was when we
started leading on to photoshoots, we actually had enough money that we
could actually do these Remember we got that Razor tracksuit in? In Abercromby, the first tracksuits had come in and they done
really well for us and then we launched this tracksuit called The Razor tracksuit.
It was like a blue tracksuit and had a white panel on top. And it just had the actual
wee bee logo on it, didn’t it at that time? We couldn’t get enough of it, could we? It just flew out the door,
we were just packing it constantly. We kept reordering it, kept reordering it. That sort of took the brand to the next level,
that tracksuit. We were just doing the photoshoots like in and around, Glasgow, West End of Glasgow, round about the warehouse like we’re just kind of making what we had
we just had like a local photographer taking the videos
we made a video as well. We’re just coming up with different
ideas of like how can we make the brand We were doing everything local to start with Yeah, local in and around Glasgow
and we were like how do we take this on to make it desirable,
we want to almost make it like a travel blog a little bit, so that we’re going
we’re traveling to these exotic places and showcasing our products and
how the customer would wear our product in these locations from the looks. It’s kind of aspirational, isn’t it? We went to Dubai like was one of our…
we went to Barcelona but that was sort of right back in the beginning about I’d
say our first sort of like proper photoshoot abroad was like Dubai. We went over
to Dubai and we found all these class locations, we shot in
zero-gravity and we shot like in and around the marina and we went up to the desert, that was cool, wasn’t it? then I just remember thinking at that time they just made the brand look
better than all of our competitors about time they weren’t doing anything I think you’ll find a lot people
just do this as standard now so I feel like we were
the first ones that kind of set the bar on this so putting it out there
that this is what you… almost like setting
the trend of like you need to do this I’m not saying everybody needs to do that like we don’t do 20 location shoots a year
but we always feel it’s quite nice to go to showcase the product
in another location. Yeah kind of giving the customer I’d love to go there
I’d love to wear that brand, you know what i mean? Just kind of aspirational for the customer to be seen in From Dubai we’ve taken it to Miami, Thailand, New York, Chicago, some amazing locations and
the Thailand was one of my favourites Tokyo was good Remember shooting in Thailand at Maya Bay we
got up about 6:00 in the morning We had to get the tractor cause the tide had gone out, had to get the tractor out took us into… and the water was like class Where they filmed The Beach It’s usually mobbed and there was like
not a person there…it was amazing just coming in on the the boat and we
got out and we had baby sharks. It was amazing. …swimming about. and then just walking on to the beach and
there’s just nobody there, it was just unbelievable. Remember shooting there for
a good two hours when the Sun was coming up just the two models I think the models enjoy coming on the shoots as well because it was just like… we always
like to do something… We’d get up before sunrise just to… Whereas maybe other people will just go we’ll just get up at ten o’clock
and we’ll shoot for a couple hours and we’re always done things that were just
like bit different It was kind of a bit before influencers
as well but we were taking these models on photoshoots and then they were
putting it on their social media was like they were sort of vlogging
for us… like look at this location I’m with Bee Inspired Clothing, look at this
at nestling and it kinda like again made the customer think wow look at the
models they’re really enjoying themselves this is a cool brand and the more photoshoots we did the more we just saw the sales and the
brand grow and grow and grow so we just felt that more we put into these sort of
things the more it reflected on the brand and the more the customer engaged
in the product which kind of led us moving on to things like we started
sponsoring pool parties, so we did BH Mallorca just trying to add in more events Again, relating to the customer
so they could be part of the brand. Kind of thought where’s the customer
gonna wear this product and how are they gonna think that’s gonna look good in their sort of environment, so things like the BH Mallorca I remember one of the guys from Footasylum coming to us and saying
oh we’ve done like a social trip in Ibiza and the brand was everywhere everywhere was kind of on Bee Inspired. The B33 was everywhere. I can’t believe how far you have come from this to this just by going to summer locations or holiday locations and just
seeing the brand everywhere that small warehouse, that small office
that we had, we grew out of it so fast and doing all these events
and having footballers wearing the product that we’re like we now
need another bigger unit We were literally in there for like a year and a half and
then it was just like well we need another unit. And the one we went for
“this will last us for years” like we’ll be in here for as long as we know… I remember walking in the warehouse we took a few people to see
it and they’re thinking this is going to be a bit big It was almost like they were saying like
what’re you doing, you don’t need this unit but the belief that we had
in the brand was obviously like yeah, I think we should take this yeah just for the sheer growth We had a lot of plans to increase the product range
so at that point we were very much t-shirts, tracksuits, shorts probably like we just wanted to expand the range to go for the… to bring in more winter
products like the jackets and the jeans they are two, like right now our
best sellers At the time jeans started to kick off for us, didn’t they? they were selling really well
we were kind of looking at jeans and t-shirt you’re gonna wear them
in summer but what you gonna wear with jeans in autumn/winter, obviously we had the hoodies
but we kind of thought we should try jackets We just wanted to cover all basis and this new facility, the new unit let us do
that with having the extra space to actual store the product It gave us the capacity to go and have these products because we had some to store them. Increasing more staff coming in and we quickly found that
that unit wasn’t big enough either It was round about that time that we got players like Coutinho, Firmino and that really sort of sparked the brand on again because all these people these
high-profile footballers wearing that brand and our target audience probably
is that sportswear, that’s our background and these people wearing that really
kind of kicked the brand on again Internationally especially you seen like the
international sales start coming in from the likes of Germany and France and
Spain and in the Netherlands, Ireland and then that was the start of filling up the warehouse to then kick on again I guess our competitive edge,
didn’t just wanna be a UK brand, did we? We didn’t want just sit on
we could just be a UK brand, we kind of thought well there’s a
potential out there with these footballers wearing it in different countries
Coutinho playing in Spain. We thought to ourselves we can maybe kick this on and when we started opening up to Germany like Germany and obviously Ireland and America as well we noticed these sales and with that
warehouse that we had enough storage to have enough product
to service these areas. Black Friday 2017 was both
amazing and a bit of a disaster. The warehouse that we
moved into which we thought was going to be far too big for us for forever,
quickly became too small I think we’d done the most amazing sales we’d
ever seen that Friday. It wasn’t just Black Friday,
it was the build up to Black Friday as well like the month before that the sales start coming in more and more
and then it just hit a boom with Black Friday and we found ourselves like a week behind in orders we weren’t providing the service that we previously… we didn’t really calculate how much it would affect us we were like oh we’ve
got stuff to cover it but we didn’t, and then we were like we’ve got room
at that point I think we’d had that warehouse we had another overspill warehouse and
we had a warehouse at the airport and we just couldn’t provide the
customer service that we wanted I think the freight companies had
had a bit of a problem that year as well so we had a delay in house and they also had a delay and
it was just like one big bang almost like a bit of a car crash that we just
said this is never gonna happen again. We can’t afford for this to happen again That was two years ago
Yeah two years ago so we kind of made the decision we don’t want this to
happen again so we’re really gonna have to go and get another warehouse but this
time make sure… with a growth plan
obviously we to be in this hub for five years at least It’s the global hub for international growth and everything, this is where it’s all going to happen. All our items that are
sent globally are sent from this hub here on a daily basis using the main
carriers fully tracked around the world I think we’ve tripled our staff, the
warehouse is sixty odd thousand square foot we’ve got office space for our
marketing team, our garment technologists customer service everything, the
warehouse is on the side of the offices as well so everything’s focused
to really take us on the next level and really go for some sort
of global growth One of the highlights for me for the brand has to be Leo Messi wearing,
actually been seen wearing and the product I think it was Christmas
Eve last year and I was sent like someone had tagged me on a picture on
Instagram Barcelona had been on a winter break and he was flying back
to Argentina and he was pictured at the airport wearing our Black
Signature T-shirt It was probably like…
to see how far the brand had come from like us being in the flat to then kind of
going through the years to actually seeing like the greatest player that’s ever lived wearing product
and I think it actually gives you credibility as well to actually other people see these type
of guys wearing… and they don’t get paid to wear it they just wear it because they actually like
either the quality, the fit and the brand perception is just like there
so there like i’m gonna wear that For anyone,
somebody like that wearing your product it great But for two ex-professional footballers,
do you know what I mean? who obviously look up to
these type of boys, to be wearing your product is amazing I can’t wait for the next part of the journey hopefully just really kick on internationally and really take it to the next level. That’s the plan.

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