A Victorian couple who fell in love with their passion for the countryside, has now turned it into a business that earns millions.
When Cam Greenwood first met his wife Elise, they fell in love with nature – and the whirlwind of romance saw them engaged just five months later.
However, at that time, Cam was going through one of the most “challenging” periods of his life.
It was 2017 and the brand surf he had created at the age of 19 as a hobby had taken off five years after its release.
But a company from California was not happy and had a legal battle.
“I ended up leaving university to pursue the full-time business and it grew into a strong brand called Monsta Surf and I had clients from 40 countries,” he told news.com.au.
“Then I drank a green energy drink to follow us.”
The stressful period led the 29-year-old – who did not even surf – to the realization that the company he really wanted to run was to be outdoors, rather than surf.
Elise was working as a female designer at Rip Curl at the time and together they decided to create a new outdoor brand called Zorali.
He saw the couple going camping, having fun with friends and enjoying nature as part of their business research.
“We really experienced many of the other brands in the industry and felt that it was almost performance-oriented, even in marketing that was about reaching the top or showing the athlete hanging from the cliff with one hand,” he said. he said.
“It did not have much of an impact on how we saw the countryside. Many Australians love to go outdoors and we really wanted to be a guide to taking the first steps outdoors.
“It can be difficult to get outdoors and people do not know the technical terminology and equipment. We wanted to create a brand that is accessible and welcoming and takes people deeper into the countryside. ”
The Victoria Couple launched a stock crowdfund campaign in 2019, raising $ 300,000 from 550 investors to implement their idea.
For the first 12 months, they worked at Zorali from home and started when the pandemic hit Australia, selling everything from tents to camping chairs, drinks and cooking utensils, wood stoves, backpacks and men’s and women’s clothing.
“It simply came to our notice then. “When Covid first hit, we were running a brand outdoors at a time when people were naturally encouraged not to go out with all the lockdowns,” Cam said.
“I felt that things could have gone quite a difficult way for us.
But paradoxically, it worked in their favor as people felt the weight of the restrictions, Cam said.
“I think that when something is taken away from you – the freedom to go out and explore places near or far from home – it really makes you appreciate it a lot more,” he said.
“Many of our friends and many people in our community and our customers after the lockdown showed a much greater appreciation for the simple joys of going on a road or going camping with your friends and these simple pleasures that we all enjoyed given before the pandemic “.
He admits, however, it was a slow and “very hard work” for the first year as they made $ 175,000 in sales. But that increased by 600 percent in the second year.
Last year, Zorali’s revenue exceeded $ 2 million.
The bestsellers for the brand include camping chairs ranging in price from $ 119 to $ 199 and four different backpacks, which sell for $ 169.95.
There’s also a $ 675 camping kit, which Cam said makes the outdoor outing less “overwhelming” – it includes a tent, mattress and camping pillow to prepare someone for a long trip.
Elise, who leads a team of six designers, focuses on the use of recycled or organic materials, but also on making clothes that are visually appealing.
“Traditionally, a lot of clothes outdoors may not be very nice in terms of design,” Cam said.
“A strong area of interest is the manufacture of outdoor clothing that not only works very well and looks extremely beautiful, but you can also wear them on a hike or in the city in your everyday life.”
Currently, 90 percent of their income comes from Australia, but now the couple, whose favorite outdoor destination is Otway in South Victoria, is gaining interest from the US.
In July, they will start a partnership with the American lifestyle company Huckberry, popular for its outdoor equipment.
Cam said Zorali has also evolved into a pandemic, with the duo seeing it more as a sustainable wellness brand that connects people to nature rather than a company of outdoor necessities.
The couple recently enjoyed some time on Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second highest mountain, and this is also part of their grand plan – to make their online presence offline, with a calendar of events to be released later this year.
“It’s something we’re really excited to grow up with – the Zorali experience side – we’re not just seeing ourselves as an online retailer and we want to create those really meaningful experiences that fit the brand,” Cam said.