As we reported earlier this year, RYD the gear and accessories brand, started in 2014 with roots in Cape Town (South Africa) has launched here in Australia, announcing that Brad Brickell has joined the business as the company’s Brand Director (and part owner) of its Australian business headquartered in Yamba, NSW. Brad Bricknell, RYD Founder Barend Buys along with, Brand Ambassador and former WSL world #17 Caio Ibelli, debuted RYD at Surf Expo in Florida USA in February this year, right before the COVID19 pandemic struck. No one could have predicted the curve ball the impact of COVID19 has had on businesses, but as we discuss with Brad, it’s enabled a clarity of focus, and time to reimagine what a sustainable business model looks like in 2021 and beyond. RYD’s launch, despite the pandemic, also coincided with surf retails remarkable double-digit recovery, led by surf hardware, softboards and surf accessories.
We shot Brad a few Q’s on the eve of RYD brand officially launching HERE
ASBMAG: You received the first container of softboards earlier this month. Describe that feeling?
We had lots of mixed emotions really. I had my whole family there, kids and all, helping unload and pack the first product into the warehouse. That was a pretty special feeling having us all there, with all hands-on deck. We definitely felt the buzz of the new opportunity becoming a reality and the overwhelming emotion was one of excitement and anticipation. There had been so many delays (and we are still dealing with a few more in certain categories), so we were definitely relieved that some product eventually arrived and that meant we were closer to launching the business here.
ASBMAG: What are some of the opportunities 2020 has presented RYD here ?
2020 has been a bizarre year on so many levels as we have all experienced. I think Australia was generally very lucky in terms of our lockdown protocols, and that’s not to discount the terrible hardship that so many encountered through this year. But from the point of view that we were generally allowed to get out and exercise… and surfing was a very big part of that. It created a lot of energy around participation and as we know it accelerated the growth in the hardgoods category that we’d seen coming for some time already. This obviously raised awareness of those categories that RYD will participate in and has become a category that is being sought out by consumers. That’s given us a good opportunity to enter the market in Australia after the brand has embedded itself in the South African market and enjoyed a very successful debut in New Zealand last year. Also, seeing how 2020 is re-shaping the industry, along with the production delays many have experienced, it’s given us the opportunity to re-think our go to market strategy before actually getting any product into the market. We’re going to flip the model a little and go direct to consumer for the majority of our business, keeping our wholesale distribution very tight, working with a handful of strategic retail partners around the country.
ASBMAG: Do you think the market is ready/willing to take on new brands ?
Yeah I do. I said in an earlier interview that when this opportunity came up, my first thoughts were that the world didn’t need another surf accessories brand – especially not Australia! But the more I immersed myself in the brand and what it stood for, I quickly realised there was a real point of difference that would resonate with consumers. The brands in this space do such an amazing job, and I’ve had many a brand crush in this category over the years – I still do! But I think if you can tell a unique story to what I already out there — be true to who say you are and make great quality products that add value to a surfers journey — there’s absolutely an opportunity to engage with the marketplace… and we’ve already seen the RYD story resonate with consumers and prospective retail partners. I believe if your market position is clear and unique – there is willingness to engage with new brands in this space.
ASBMAG: What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome launching the brand?
The major challenge has been one that is being felt across the board – supply chain clogging and the knock-on effect of what that means in terms of timing and getting product into the market. We were hoping to soft launch into Aus. around June/July and then follow up with the full debut for Spring on the 1 September. Now we will officially launch on Dec 1 with the categories we have stock of, along with our first global marketing campaign. We’ll launch with softboards including surf school boards, leashes, traction, travel accessories and board socks, with the remainder of the board cover category, fins and skateboards added to the offering in the first quarter of 2021. Other challenges have been coordinating a global marketing shoot during the lockdown and learning to have patience while waiting to surf some of the twin fins and mid lengths we just got in!
ASBMAG: Has the boom in hardware & accessories benefited the brand ?
Yes, for sure! It definitely makes those first few conversations a little easier when a category is experiencing the growth that it has. More consumers are searching for product in this space, so when you can get your offering in front of those people (whether online or in person) who are actively looking to buy, that’s a huge benefit. Commercially, we haven’t been in a position to feel the benefits of the boom yet, but we’re in the game for the long haul and there’s not much we can do about the timing of our start, so we’ll trust in the process, believe in our cause and work hard with what we’ve got.
ASBMAG: Who are some of the first accounts to stock the brand ?
Initially we are putting a lot of focus into our own online store. A full price platform with an opportunity to showcase the brand in its entirety and deliver the messages and storylines that make us tick. We have been in talks with around ten retailers initially and we’re excited where a few of these partnerships are headed.
*Ed’s note: RYD’s been spotted at Compound Surf & Espresso on the Sunshine Coast and will soon debut on Boardcave…