We’ve recently celebrated our fifth birthday at Amble HQ, which is a milestone I’m so proud of. So many businesses unfortunately don’t make it past their first year or two, and so whilst there are forever more things I’d love for the business to create and grow to, it’s pretty amazing to reflect on our first five years.
The idea for the business began when I was hiking in Patagonia, doing the Torres del Paine circuit in Chile. It was an incredible experience, with breathtaking views of glaciers and mountains, and crazy winds; a real bucket list adventure. But I was so frustrated with the clothes that were available at the time and what I could (or more importantly couldn’t) find in the outdoors stores. Nothing seemed to be stylish, sustainable, or fit how I would like it to. Everything seemed to be uber functional, at the compromise of everything else. I was left buying things that I didn’t like simply because I needed the functional element to it, and that just didn’t sit right with me.
So, I started planning out early iterations of the business in Valparaiso, a little beach side town in Chile on the way back home to Melbourne. After planning out the range, finding manufacturers, sampling products, creating our initial branding, and registering a business name, I launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to pay for the first collection ( I was in my mid 20s with barely any savings, so crowdfunding was the only option to get the brand off the ground).
Since then it’s been a rollercoaster of hard work with the support of thousands of customers, two more crowdfunding campaigns to expand our product and sizing range, photoshoots, hikes and many, many learnings. It’s been so humbling to see our community support us from the beginning and choose to support a small, sustainable, independent, women led business.
I’m so grateful for each and every order; those at markets, to our online store, and also at our stockists. Also I’m so grateful for each time you’ve told your sister, mum, cousin, friend, coworker, housemate and friend of a friend about Amble (and also when we were called Team Timbuktu, and before then Mister Timbuktu!). Since beginning the business from the corner of my bedroom, I’ve packed orders from my house, my parents’ house for years, coworking spaces, and eventually we settled into our office/warehouse space in Richmond.
Having connected with other small business owners, I’ve learnt the impact of supporting small business and how important that is. And, how truly hard it is to grow something from nothing, and then to keep growing it, with new challenges and skills to learn constantly, without any rule book. My background was in product which meant I understood supply chains, sustainability and how to create apparel, from the design to spec sheets, to sampling, and to the final product. But what I didn’t know, and have learnt along the way, stretches from bookkeeping and trademarks to marketing, strategy, leadership, superannuation, forecasting, wholesale and so much more. Receiving messages from customers and positive reviews makes my day and all the hard work worth it. There’s truly nothing better than knowing my little business has helped you find something you like, that actually fits, and that inspires you to go on outdoor adventures.
Our core values have always been around sustainability and inclusivity in the outdoors, and I’m so excited to keep doing more in both spaces as the brand grows. As a brand we’re already striving to do more and we’ve made lots of improvements along the way. When we launched we created fabric that was 50% recycled, versus now we create 100% recycled fabrics, with over 400,000 bottles recycled into our fabrics so far. Our tags and labels are recycled, we’ve changed our DWR from C6 to C0 and have made so many changes along the way trying to reduce our impact. We now also calculate the carbon footprint of every product, and then offset it, and on top of that also plant a tree for every product we make. We also create an annual Sustainability Report for transparency and accountability, with a goal of continual improvement.
Over the years of Amble I’ve connected with so many incredible people, including our customers who are hikers, runners, bike riders, campers and so much more. I’ve seen our community wear their Amble products to farmers markets, commuting to work, horse riding, skydiving, hanging out with their kids, and travelling; from Iceland to the UK, Japan to the US, to Singapore and South America, Amble’s travelled far and wide and it couldn’t be more humbling to see. I’m also proud of the community behind Amble and our continual efforts to be as inclusive as possible (which we’ll forever be trying to do). I love chatting to our customers about their trips and adventures, and what they do for work, ranging from being teachers, lawyers and parents, from working in government, to art galleries, universities, they’re farmers, doctors, cleaners and some work in hospitality too.
We have a small team with three part-timers and myself, and are so excited to grow this further. I’m super excited about our growth as we continue to expand our product range, improve our sustainability efforts and inspire more people to get outdoors, without the pressure of performance or feeling like they have to do something extreme to be outdoorsy. Even after five years we’re only at the very beginning of what I’d like to achieve. I can’t wait for all the possibilities and what’s to come with future product development, community connection and activities, expanding our sizing range, improving our sustainability, getting everyone excited and comfortable in the outdoors and becoming the brand we’ve dreamed of. Thanks so much for your support and for following along the journey, we couldn’t have done it without you.
~ Rhianna, Founder.