ASB MAGAZINE: Cactus House Agency is expanding, combining the twin forces of Michael Barbeta who founded the Agency in 2017 and Kimberly Frittum who brings with her 12 years of marketing and sales experience with Fox, Volcom and Wrangler across the Australian and New Zealand markets. Cactus House already offers sales and marketing advocacy for brands such as Wrangler, Riders, Lee, Huffer and Electric. The powerhouse agency recently signed McTavish, and will represent the brand from November.
2020 has been a transformational year where businesses need to become more agile, adapt and operate with reduced resources. The team at Cactus House identified an opportunity for brands to leverage a single point of contact agency, offering a suite of services that allows brands the choice that best fits their needs (or budget) whether it’s a one-off marketing project, or ongoing integrated sales and marketing strategy.
The pair are optimistic that one of the outcomes of the pandemic is seeing an increase in customers’ desire to shop and support local brands and independent businesses.
We caught up with the dynamic duo behind the revamped Cactus House Agency to find out how they’ve pivoted their business during 2020 and their outlook for brands and retailers in the year ahead…
Can you tell us what led to the expanded service?
Mikey: We’d been talking about joining forces for awhile, but COVID sped things up and we decided the time was right to pursue our dream.
With the pandemic having a huge impact on business, we noticed many brands were pulling back and reducing their overheads. Early on we were hearing that retail wasn’t slowing down, and we predicted an impeding situation where brand teams may find themselves overwhelmed with the same (or additional) workload, and an increased likelihood for the need to outsource.
We know some of the challenges of outsourcing from working brand-side, so we saw value in being a single point of contact agency, that can offer a range of services across sales and marketing functions. We wanted to be a true extension of brands, by developing a deep understanding of the brands we work with, save them time, offer a more consistent representation in the market, and allow brands to capitalise on integrated sales and marketing opportunities.
What is the market opportunity you’ve identified?
Mikey: We feel there is opportunity to better connect retailers and brands, initiating partnerships, directly influencing sales through marketing, and offering an integrated solution for brands to leverage our agency as a single point of contact for both sales and marketing services.
We have the retailer relationships to bring partnerships to life, with the capacity to ensure integration from the start. We can sell in collections with a go-to-market strategy in place, and work with the buyer and marketing teams to hype them up, foster ideas and negotiate real estate from the sell onwards.
Our vision is for brands to feel confident that we know their business and brand positioning inside out in order to truly represent them and create and capitalise on opportunities for the brand within the retail space.
A classic example of this is the latest Lime Cordiale x Wrangler collab that just hit the market. Whilst in the Marketing Manager role at Wrangler, Kim was involved in the early negotiations of this project – liaising between the band’s management team and Wrangler’s design team, and then pitching the collab to Universal Store. This went live two weeks ago, and styles sold out on Wrangler’s ecomm store within a few hours.
With our experience and network the sky’s the limit with what we can achieve for brands.
Who are some of the clients you’ve worked with?
Kim: On the sales side of the business we have existing and long standing partnerships with Huffer, Lee, Wrangler, Riders and Electric.
On the Marketing side, we’re just getting up and running but have already been able to assist Lee, Wrangler and Riders with photoshoots and their AW21 sell-in assets and are working with Steve the Bartender on an exciting new project launching in November.
Our mission is to solidify long term growth and sustainability for your brand.
What are some of the results you’ve achieved this year?
Kim: The latest AW21 sell in package that we shot for Lee/Wrangler/Riders is a great example of our marketing and sales services coming together. We shot the sales guide stills and video content in conjunction with the boys from The Sauce in our in-house studio. Our agency services included casting talent, receiving and preparing the samples, production and styling on the shoot days and video voice overs for the virtual showing videos. Mikey introduced the virtual showing videos in 2019, and this year we stepped it up with video snippets of products on-body, for the ultimate window into how the product looks worn with movement. This was received extremely well by accounts who were limited to virtual range showings due to the pandemic.
You collaborated with Linc at Empire Ave. What did he bring to the table?
Mikey: Linc is an old friend of ours. He’s always been one who encourages collaboration, and loves bouncing ideas. He’s a great mentor and friend. He was instrumental in helping us with the intricacies of the website that sat outside our expertise and skillset.
What’s the outlook for independent surf retail and brands?
Despite everything going on, retailer confidence seems quite high at the moment, in fact the latest AW21 sell for Lee/Wrangler/Riders and Huffer was the biggest sell we’ve had as a business to date. We’re seeing strong demand for our brands across the board, including significant growth within the traditional surf retail space.
We’re optimistic that one of the outcomes of the pandemic is seeing an increase in customers’ desire to shop and support local brands and independent businesses.
Contact Cactus HERE
“The team at Cactus House Agency are a powerhouse when it comes to brand representation and marketing. The product guides and video showings they provide have been extremely helpful, particularly during the last year. Their extensive product knowledge and genuine passion for the brands they sell, combined with this innovative new way of showing ranges, makes buying a breeze. Mike and Kim are friendly, professional, and super-efficient. They don’t miss a beat and are a dream to work with.” – Taylor Green, Co-owner of Pretty Rad Store in Port Macquarie.
“Cactus House is a business that is built around unrivalled enthusiasm, hard work and professionalism. They have exceptionally high standards and routinely deliver outstanding results for our brands. Above all else, Michael and Kim are wonderful people, full of talent and a pleasure to work with.”