By Aimee Chanthadavong

Realising their knowledge from helping build dozens of online businesses was invaluable, digital agency Mentally Friendly kick started The Grand Social, an online hub for independent fashion brands.

The Grand Social runs on a multi-vendor shopping model, which aggregates independent fashion labels into one place.

Nick Gower of digital agency Mentally Friendly, co-founder of The Grand Social, told RetailBiz it was an opportunity to support independent labels after seeing so many fail.

“We had done quite a lot of e-commerce stores for fashion brands who wanted to get into the online space because overheads were a lot lower and online is a bit more agile. But they didn’t go typically well because an online store is quite a lot of work. So the stores we setup would either go really well but be overwhelmed by orders and they’d have to hire more people and it’d become too complicated, or no orders would come through,” he said.

“So what we decided was since we were getting paid to build these online stores and with good conscious we started talking to brands about what would and wouldn’t work and that’s where The Grand Social started.”

Almost seven years on The Grand Social continues to grow. The online hub has seen a 46 per cent growth in revenue in the past six months. Gower has attributed this to other online retailers like The Iconic and ASOS entering the market and putting down huge marketing spends.

“First of all they pumped a lot of SMBs fashion brands into the market, which has given them breathing room for stock that needs to sell. They’ve also popularised online shopping to a degree where more parents and kids have bought online. This is the result of pumping advertising things like three hour shipping offers, which tempts people who have never given online shopping a go,” he said.

Gower said the company will continue to reap on this growth with hopes to extend their market reach to other parts of the country.

“Grand social is really two-folds – to connect brands with a wider audience and to help build online businesses not just online stores. We’re just continue to do that and over the last 12 months we’ve seen a nice increase in sales and things has been growing quite steadily," he said.

"We’ve also been doing more activities overseas and non-major cities by looking inwards to South Australia and other cities that have become a big enough focus for us to legitimate see them as markets. We want to grow the size of stable of brands and the efficiencies that we offer them, such as growing the mailing list. We believe slow and steady wins the race.”