Byron Bay-based clothing brand, THRILLS welcomes their new Sales Manager, Willie Marshall to the team. Willie discusses key focuses for the company and how they’ve adapted to COVID-19.
Tell us a little bit about your history and career progression. Where did it all begin?
I’m lucky to have worked with some of, in my opinion, the best brands and best people in the game. I studied journalism at school and started my career in Southern California as an Editor for Happy Magazine which later morphed into BLISSS, then to a ten-year stint in marketing at Volcom during the golden years of unlimited marketing budgets, travel and tradeshows. I then jumped ship to chase down a beautiful Aussie girl, have kids and to relocate to Byron Bay; I was working for Nixon in Burleigh Heads for almost seven years, and then pandemic took hold. At a time when most brands were furloughing staff or making redundancies, an amazing opportunity presented itself and I’ve now found myself as Sales Manager at Thrills in Byron – I couldn’t be happier.
What made you want to join the team at Thrills?
They have a rad vibe, are all a bunch of legends, work hard and like to have a good time. It’s the perfect mix. The office location is right in the heart of the Byron Bay Industrial Estate which is surrounded by a ton of small brands that are doing cool shit, and tons of great cafes. It feels like a big family. Not to mention you can bring your dog to work.
Tell us a bit about your new role. Is it similar to the work you’ve done in the past?
It is and it’s not. I come from a marketing background, but in an industry as small as ours there’s plenty of overlap between sales and marketing, so I feel prepared for the role. I have existing relationships with the majority of our retail partners, reps, and most employees. These days, and in especially these times, it’s best to be a “jack of all trades”; especially with an emerging brand where everyone is doing whatever they can to make things work. I’ve always liked that attitude and you can definitely feel that at THRILLS. Plus, I’m learning lots in a new role which is the beginning of an exciting chapter, and hopefully not making too many mistakes along the way.
What are you looking forward to bringing to the team?
Looking ahead, we’re definitely eyeing the business as a whole (not just wholesale) and fine-tuning to optimise efficiencies. With the current state of play, there are many opportunities for THRILLS to explore and I’m excited to be part of the team to discover and implement them in both the short and long term.
How have THRILLS been adapting to COVID-19? Have there been any big changes?
I think the biggest thing we did was to adapt quickly to what was happening by not making any crazy knee-jerk decisions. The team made the decision early on to not let go of any staff, moved everyone to remotely working from home, gave extended terms to accounts who needed help and doubled down on the things they could control; like launching a new marketing campaign based off life at home during the pandemic. We also recently announced our partnership with 1% for the Planet where we donated over $11K to local organisation Seed. We’re more passionate than ever about our efforts to move to sustainable products and practices with our supply chain and manufacturing processes. We’ve also hired additional staff during this time to help where other brands were cutting costs and making redundancies. We’re not through it all yet, but I can definitely see that things are moving in a positive direction right now which is something the company is very proud of.
Any exciting plans for the future?
I’m excited to be working with such a great group of dedicated, creative people and the opportunity ahead – will be good to get more face to face interactions and travel for work once all of the restrictions are lifted. Pre-COVID I was just about to book a surf trip to Samoa with my partner Shannon, so we’ll see what’s in store for 2021?