Birdsnest: From storefront to global online retail success story
“Birdsnest began back in 2004 when I was silly enough to fall in love with a farmer and end up in regional Australia. I worked out pretty quickly that on a sheep station, I was not much help, and I needed to find something to keep me out of trouble. Retailing in a little country town was where I landed, and I just fell in love with the magic that happens on the retail floor,” explains Jane Cay, founder of Australian retail success story birdsnest.
Based in the NSW country town of Cooma in the Snowy Mountains region, birdsnest has grown from simple shopfront to an online retail brand providing fashion to women all over the globe.
“Our mission is to solve women’s wardrobe dilemmas by providing personalised styling advice, express delivery, styled outfit inspiration, above-and-beyond customer service, no-hassle returns and a vast range of brands and sizes for all body shapes.” Cay explains.
Almost 10 years since taking the brand online Cay continues to innovate in the retail fashion space. Her business is now housed in the old Woolworths building on the main street of Cooma and provides employment for over 150 locals. It’s a far cry from the cosy little shopfront that first housed her brand and is a testament to Cay’s drive and initiative in the online retail space.
When Cay first floated the idea of taking her business online the naysayers thought she was crazy. Today online sales make up 95 per cent of birdsnest’s business.
“You have to remember, this was 2006, 2007 and everyone thought I was pretty mad. They thought I was crazy. ‘Jane, no one is going to buy dresses and jeans online. That’s just not gonna happen’.” She paraphrases. “And so I had to forge through that. And it turns out over 10 years later, in fact they will buy dresses online. And lots of them. And so our journey began.”
Cay says birdsnest continues to find ways to evolve the business to make their online shopping experience unique.
“The ability to shop by body shape, colour, personality and occasion, as well as being able to create your own style profile, receive personalised style recommendations, view items on a diverse range of model sizes and upgrade to a birdsnest changeroom is really just the tip of the iceberg!”
Over 85,000 women have created personal profiles at birdsnest telling the brand about their body shape, favourite colours, their lifestyle and other elements that are important to them in creating the perfect wardrobe.
“We have responded by designing our own in-house labels to address those needs. Our range now consists of eight ‘bird’ labels along with carefully curated styles from our favourite brands and suppliers which we hope you love. We are constantly trying to extend the size range and offer sizes 8 to 18 in most styles and 6 to 22 where we can.”
Cay says she wants a customer’s experience with birdsnest to be like shopping with their flock. A place where we can help solve your wardrobe dilemmas or just have fun indulging in some retail therapy!
Cay’s passion for the business is contagious. She is delighted her brand’s success has also helped her generate jobs in a regional town that was previously best known for snowsports, sheep and cattle grazing.
“What I love about this business and what I’m most passionate about now is the fact that it is creating really exciting careers for people in a rural and regional area. And that’s what I love about the internet. And that’s what got me fascinated by it back when it started becoming mainstream when I was at uni. Back in the early 2000s, or the ’90s, early 2000s
“What I often say is Google doesn’t say where you live as long as you’re the most relevant. So that’s what I love about this new digital age that we live in.”
Catch Jane Cay on Bricks & Clicks on Sunday at 1pm on Channel 7 where she delivers great mentoring advice to our six Aussie retailers as they begin their journey to become global online brands.