In 2016, Harry Simonis couldn’t find a shirt for his school prom. As a regular gym goer, he found that everything he tried on was tight on the arms, baggy around the midriff or ripping apart at the seams. He spotted an opportunity to create a true muscle-fit shirt.
But seizing the opportunity would have to wait – Harry’s parents and teachers expected him to go to university. That autumn Harry began a degree in International Business. The class that resonated most with him was Start-up Society, but after six weeks, he decided that studying entrepreneurship wasn’t enough for him – he wanted to put what he learnt into practice.
He quit university and set up TAILORED ATHLETE.
Creating the perfect muscle-fit shirt
“To be successful, your brand has to have a purpose and your product has to solve a problem. For me, that problem was solved by creating the perfect muscle-fit shirt.” says Harry. “If you can portray that problem in an engaging way with your marketing, then you’re onto a winner.”
What followed was a roller-coaster year for Harry: standing outside gyms to measure muscular guys; interning with a New York fitness entrepreneur to learn the ropes; securing credit to make his first batch of shirts; and travelling to develop the product with suppliers.
12 months on, the hard work was paying off. Harry had perfected a marketing strategy that saw each new batch of stock sell out in two weeks. The downside? He and his mum had to pack every single order themselves, all from the family home.
It was time for Harry to outsource his order fulfilment.
Scaling through outsourced fulfilment
“I always wanted to use a fulfilment warehouse, as it’s a scaleable solution and I had the big picture in mind,” explains Harry. “But as a start-up, surviving on a credit card, I couldn’t do it straight away.
“After our first year of trading, we moved to our first UK fulfilment centre. Then after six months, we switched to James and James, following a recommendation from another business owner. The key reason for the change was James and James’s US fulfilment centre and the international reach it has.”
Taking TAILORED ATHLETE to the US
Having invested heavily in marketing, the US had quickly emerged as TAILORED ATHLETE’s biggest country for sales. With Harry wanting to offer cheaper and quicker shipping to American customers, “it made sense to have another warehouse there.”
TAILORED ATHLETE now has two websites – one for the US, and one for the UK and rest of the world. Both run on Shopify, meaning they can integrate with James and James’s order fulfilment software quickly. This integration automatically sends online orders to the right warehouse for pick, pack and dispatch, and ensures stock levels in Shopify and the fulfilment centres are kept in sync, in real time.
Regaining time to improve operations
James and James’s software has brought many unexpected benefits to TAILORED ATHLETE too.
Daisy Simonis, Chief Operating Officer, picks up the story: “Oh my gosh! I remember when we first switched from the old fulfilment provider to James and James. I literally almost cried, the software was so good.
“At that point, I was working a full-time job elsewhere, looking after customer service for TAILORED ATHLETE in my spare time – first thing in the morning and late at night. The new system was so user-friendly and logical. The fact that I could search for customers and products easily, or duplicate an order for an exchange saved so much time.”
“The software has also helped from a back-end point of view,” adds Harry. “It’s made things more efficient. We now work with a supply chain specialist, who uses the James and James system to watch stock on a weekly basis, and tell us what to order and when to order.”
Planning for new products and markets
The move to James and James helped TAILORED ATHLETE grow sales by an astonishing 2,500% in 2018, enabling it to reach new customers globally, and regain the time to expand and market its product range.
And the new insights gained from James and James’s software are now helping the company expand further, with exciting new collections to capitalise on global customer demand.
Still only 21, Harry clearly has grand plans for the future.
It all began in 2010, when James Hyde and James Strachan couldn’t find a modern shipping service for the eCommerce business they ran. Faced with messy warehouses based on out-dated systems, they decided to build their own. We’ve not stood still since, helping hundreds of online brands scale up – and scaling with them.