From left to right, co-founders Jules Marco, Hugo Garneau Boisfert, Matteo Landry Girouard and Philippe Ole Thiverge (Photo: Yannick MacDonald)
Produced in more than 245,000 units and sales of nearly $ 7 million later, Quebecois bamboo underwear set off to conquer the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Getting there, she could have enlisted the help of Chritiane Germain and Isabèle Chevalier belts, who both offered to take 12.5% of the startup for $ 500,000.
It takes its name from the raw material from which to cut her underwear – bamboo viscose – the company was founded three years ago by four childhood friends who design her articles from the ground up.
While the choice of materials was clear, the type of product brought to the market has evolved greatly.
Relying on influencer marketing from its inception to gain popularity, Bamboo Underwear, who only produced male boxers at the time, quickly noticed that few of them were those whose news consisted mainly of boxer portraits. The company’s president, Matteo Landry Girouard said in an interview with Business.
Today, it is this “gang-developed” branch of the company that further fuels its growth and which should enable it to generate nearly $ 8 million in turnover in 2021.
Men’s underwear is still among the top five selling products, but 90% of its customers are of the fairer sex.
In order to promote its brand, the manufacturer of the “most comfortable underwear on the market” invests nearly a third of its budget in advertising on Facebook and Google, as well as in influencer marketing. She also joined “178,000 people” across all networks, as she hinted at the company’s marketing director, Jules Marcoux, while he was on the show. In the eye of the dragonOn April 19, 2021.
To ensure a successful partnership with the creator, Matthew Landry Girouard insists the importance of submitting a quality article: “Influencers should first rate the product, because if they don’t really like it, it seems. […] Do not be fooled by the world. “
This interest in providing a quality product would also explain why the company grew so rapidly, especially thanks to word of mouth. “Our customers love the product on the first use, and they talk about it around them,” notes the company president.
Control the entire production chain
To bring control down to the thread that binds elasticity to the fabric of his underwear, Matthew Landry Girouard and his partner Philip Ullett Thieferge have moved from the company’s inception to China and Bangladesh to identify the producers they want to collaborate with. The Quebec businessman specifies that from 2021, they will leave China to concentrate all of their production in Bangladesh, where his partner has a production room.
At the time of our interview, the president and chief import officer of Bamboo Underwear had just returned from a “very profitable” trip to the country to secure the prices of certain elements of their supply chain, while the scarcity of some components was increasing the cost of producing apparel in the country.
Mathieu Landry-Girouard believes that this proximity to their production chain is a real advantage for startups, as it allows them greater flexibility in manufacturing according to their needs.
For example, Bamboo Underwear can test its customers’ interest in its 30 products in development, by displaying it on its website in small quantities. “If you sell hundreds or so of units quickly, you know the product works. If that doesn’t work, we won’t lose a lot of money,” the company president explains.
Growth has slowed due to the epidemic
The businessman is contradictory when he talks about 2020, as internet sales of Bamboo Underwear have “skyrocketed”. “We took the beats, but we got old. We were lucky, but we think we could have gone further without COVID-19.”
While at present, the majority of their sales take place online in Quebec, the share of sales made in the United States and internationally is gaining ground every year. Bamboo underwear could also be found in 2020 on the shelves of Macy’s, Nordstrom, or even Bloomingdale’s, like its deal with Simons in Canada … but the pandemic decided otherwise.
We paid an advance of $ 45,000 [à leur intermédiaire américain]We started the process, but COVID-19 has stopped the retail business. Matthew Landry, who has indicated that it is possible to sign an agreement with Macy’s soon, says it is impossible to introduce new brands into the stores. Online US orders will continue to be processed by their Quebec City distribution center.
Bamboo Underwear was also in the eyes of Mexico before the outbreak. The company had reached an agreement with retail chain Liverpool to sell its underwear first on the web, then in stores, and had also been in discussion with the Promoda chain, making Victoria Secrets brand known in the south of the Mexican-American border. Since then, negotiations have resumed and “will take place in the coming months,” the president asserts.
In Europe and the UK, thanks to logistics and warehousing service providers, they can better serve their customers, thus avoiding paying customs duties, within the next two months.