We use our smart phones for everything these days ranging from our banking, shopping online to updating our social media and making the occasional phone call, we basically can’t live without them.
That’s where Ana Slavka and Stephan Kljajic, founders of HButler saw a real need in the market and created the MightyPurse, a handbag that charges your phone on the go. It is a beautifully crafted, high quality fash-tech item offered in a variety of the season’s most fashionable colours.
The husband and wife duo have made significant inroads into the gift, fashion and accessory market and have secured distribution for the MightyPurse throughout the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, South Africa, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and is now stocked in over 3,500 stores internationally.
Slavka says that they expanded overseas to increase revenue. “We exhibited at many, many tradeshows overseas in different markets such as tech and gift,” she says about their success abroad. “We also worked with distributors to help reach channels that would be hard to reach on our own.
“Expanding globally has been very exciting but trying to keep up with larger and larger productions and increased cash flow that needs to go into this every time can be a challenge and keeping stock levels up without knowing exactly what the demand will be.”
Generally the response has been positive globally and many new channels are opening up, and while It’s not as easy and straight forward as in Australia, the opportunities are endless.
“Every market is different. We learned a lot over the years―no school can teach what first-hand experience can teach. Different cultures, different rules (often unspoken rules) that one sometimes has to decipher and figure out on their own. But that’s the fun part.
“In a nutshell, European countries are more complex and bureaucracies can slow down processes. Australia is the best for developing and growing a business, it is easier than in any other country,” she concludes.
As the brand is enjoying success in Australia and overseas, setting up a new business always comes with its challenges.
“One major challenge was when we had just launched Mighty Purses for a few months and the sales were going through the roof―we even had to double up in staff very quickly to keep up with the demand―and then one massive shipment just before Christmas arrived of which more than half was already pre-sold.
“As customers received their delivery we realised that there was a fault in that particular batch and the purses would only charge iPhones and not Samsung phones. So we had to recall a lot of stock. That was a real ‘ouch’ moment. Luckily most customers were understanding and supportive,” she recalls.
Setting up the whole business infrastructure nationally and internationally (warehousing, shipping, etc.) was also something Slavka wasn’t quite familiar with. “Having been self-employed and free-lancing all my life, employing staff was something I have never done before, I didn’t even know how to conduct an interview and what questions to ask. We were growing fast and had to throw ourselves in the deep end in many aspects.”
HButler launched in 2008 selling handbag accessories like foldable hooks but its success only lasted for a few years as cheap versions from China started flooding the market and it became harder to compete.
“We had to come up with other ideas to keep up with the game and life of being entrepreneurs, so we created two new brands―Mighty Purse (the purse that charges your phone) was launched in 2013 and in 2015 we launched ORBIT, a range of bluetooth trackers.”
For ORBIT the keys and card seem to be the most popular, while the MightyPurse wristlet clutch is still the bestseller, even though the brand has introduced different designs and colours.
“A business is challenged to constant adaptation in accordance with market developments. If a product is successful one day it doesn’t mean it will be successful the next day.
“You just can’t rest on your laurels and we have to keep reinventing and following trends. Any market is so much faster paced now than it was even five or 10 year ago and things are shorter lived in general, which has its negatives (must keep up the speed) but also positives (new opportunities).”