"Business Talks" with Szwendam Się

Agata Sieramska
Agata Sieramska
"Business Talks" with Szwendam Się

Szwendamsie.pl is a shop with a unique concept, can you tell us more about it? What is the idea behind your store?Szwendam inspires you to travel, create unconventional high-quality products, and gather around people who, like us, have an active lifestyle. We want to be closer to nature and dream about frequent traveling. We strive to combine passion with everyday life. We want to create a complete project in which traveling, designing clothes, creating content for a blog and social media, will be intertwined and joined together. If we were to describe this in one sentence, it would be as follows ...

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

The only difference is that we didn’t choose a job, but we tried to create it from scratch :).Please tell me about the start of the brand. Do you remember the first sale? What was it, and how did you feel back then when everything was starting?The very first idea, the name and a very general outline, came to me about 5 years ago. Soon enough it was forgotten because it was well beyond our capabilities at the time. After two years, during a meeting at the Vistula Boulevards in Warsaw, we returned to the concept of creating Szwendam się. What once was an obstacle for us, became, with some luck and effort, possible.Soon, we started to look for a sewing shop, who we could cooperate with. Initially, we wanted to produce a small number of shirts, just to check if they would sell. The produced amount for the start quickly turned out to be not enough for the demand. We had to invest twice as much as in the original plan. After 3 months a mini collection of 5 shirts with travel motifs were created around mountaineering and climbing. Partly, they were older illustrations that waited for their moment. After minor modifications, I adapted them for printing on clothing. They turned out to be a great "testing ground" and showed us a further direction of development. What is interesting, is that the first pictures of products were created in my room on the background of a white wall, and we used pretty much every source of light that we had in the apartment as ‘studio lamps’ :). The first e-mail orders appeared within a few days of the opening. It's a great feeling when you know that your work becomes the object of someone's interest:) Despite the number of the first orders, the opening left us a bit unsatisfied. We realized that we still have a long way to go. As it turned out later, the lack of an automated online store created a barrier for our customers.Who is behind the brand Szwendam się?Szwendam się are basically just two people: Łukasz and Przemek. We have been friends for 18 years, which is quite long for 30-year-olds :). We have complementary roles in the company. In a nutshell: Łukasz designs, creates visuals for the brand and product, and Przemek runs social media, creates content and manages orders.It is also worth mentioning the people who support us: parents, friends and acquaintances, as well as our clients and fans who send us photos of their trips in our Szwendam się t-shirts :).

How long have you been on the market?Our fanpage took off during the holidays in 2015. It took us several months to build the community. The following years was continuous development of the brand. Every day we worked full-time in various companies and cities, and Szwendam could only be prioritized after 20:00. Managing the store remotely with a divided warehouse was quite a challenge. In the end, it was decided that from the beginning of June we would start focusing on this business. From that moment on, we saw major progress.Why did you decide to create your own brand? Was it worth it, did you ever regret this step?Sometimes I wonder where the need/intention to build your own brand comes from. In our case, it is a willingness to work on our own, in accordance with our beliefs and in a style that suited us. For a designer, creating new things comes naturally, so why not create under your own brand? If we regretted anything, it’s only that we decided to take this step so late.What is the biggest success of Szwendam Się?It depends on how you define success? When it comes to various types of awards and rankings, we haven’t made any achievements. We do not pay any attention to them. We are much more pleased with the positive feedback from our fans and the fact that we are perceived as a trustworthy brand.Our greatest success is our stable development and all the new products we are launching. Each new product is received positively, which motivates us to push further.

And what was the worst thing that happened to the brand?Hmm ... probably one t-shirt model that turned out to be a total flop. Most likely because it was too "American". Several dozens of these shirts have been produced, and only a dozen or so have been sold from that batch and this through great effort. Fortunately, this happened in the very beginning and we learned from it. And to be honest, it wasn’t even that bad :)How does the whole production process look from idea to the final design?Everything starts with an idea about the pattern and design. At this stage, you need to pre-assess whether it has potential within our brand and whether it is worth investing in it. After that, we look for the best production solution, i.e. the relation of price to quantity and technique. When the product is ready, we start creating marketing material: descriptions, photos, graphics and sometimes presentations.Where do you manufacture your products?We work with many different factories specialising in different areas.One place deals with the production of knitted fabrics, cutting and sewing is carried out elsewhere, and another one is where prints and labels are made. Before a finished product is made of these components, we have to visit several places in several cities. All the factories we work with are located in Poland, and we’re extremely proud of this.

Can you tell us what is the most popular and most-bought product?Currently, young women are the largest group of our customers. Women's t-shirts with travel motifs are particularly popular, such as Tula Gąsienicowa shirt and t-shirt with the brown bear. Many of our customers send us photos in when wearing our T-shirts, from the remotest corners of the world. It is nice and also testifies to the trust and high quality of our clothes.Where do you get ideas for new products? What inspires you?Ideas often appear spontaneously. We definitely get inspiration from our own travels and the different sports we engage in ourselves. Input from clients is also valuable; we are so happy to take in their feedback and ideas. When it comes to the style itself, we get inspiration from Scandinavian design, that is simplistic, sparingly using bright colours and often minimalistic. The motto ‘less and more’ is reflected in our products. We collect a lot of samples, materials and various assets. Sometimes a material accidentally falls into our hands and immediately inspires the creation of a new product.Who are Szwendam się customers?The customer is often a young and mindful person. A frequent traveler who is not afraid of challenges. Someone who wants to get the most out of life. Someone that sees a new travel destination as more than just a point to ‘check-in’ on Facebook. Their travels are connected with emotions, living the moment, seeking new experiences and learning about foreign cultures. In other words, a real traveler.

You run a travel blog. What’s the idea behind it?Our szwendacza blog has several functions. Above all, it’s a kind of travel diary. In it, you can find reports and photos from our journeys, both short weekend trips and close destinations, as well as big trips to far away destinations. We like to do various types of collections and rankings, such posts are incredibly inspirational for travelers. We place great emphasis on posts full of curiosities because we also want to educate readers. We think that our szwendacza blog is the perfect blog to read during your morning coffee. We focus on our own unique content, always thinking about balance. How does Shoplo help you in everyday business?To choose an online store platform is a very important decision. People who want to create a shop from scratch lose a lot of time and money and the end result may not be the one they were hoping for. In Shoplo everything is clear, the platform is intuitive and above all - fast. Sellers like simple solutions, such as adding photos using drag & drop and easy to customize themes. An undoubted advantage of Shoplo is the option to make changes for many products at once. Imagine that we have to do the same thing for each product separately, you can go crazy :). In our Shoplo dashboard, the processing time for each order is shortened, thanks to the applications available, for which we don’t have to pay extra.What is the one business advice that you would have liked to hear when you were just starting?There is one and has 4 main elements :)Product / Manufacturing / Marketing / Customer service.These are the pillars on which any successful businesses are based. If those elements are going well - everything else will go well!What is your approach when it comes to running social media?Social media is extremely important to us. This is where our adventure with Szwendam began. Despite the fact that Facebook changed the algorithms and we could see huge decreases in rankings, social media still is the main marketing and communication channel. Our fanpage on Facebook has 60,000. people. With such a developed community, you should devote a lot of time and attention to it. It is very labor-intensive, but the results are visible. When it comes to Facebook we strive to maintain balance in the content. We do not want to flood fans with purely sales posts. In the near future, we don’t expect any other medium to be of higher importance than Facebook, but we are observing the market closely.

At Instagram @szwendamsie you have collected almost 6,000. followers. Does Instagram also generate sales for you?In our case, Instagram does not generate many sales, but it is still a very important platform for us. It is the foundation of our sales funnel. It sets up the interest and builds trust to the brand among our audience. We avoid putting typical sales content there too. We don’t use aggressive advertising, we prefer to present our products using images sent by our customers.Instagram works well as a tool to learn about new products. We also treat it as a brand backstage, we show design sketches, the delivery process, and we use it to report our travels.In your assortment, apart from t-shirts, you will find accessories, home accessories and even jewelry! Of course, everything in a travel atmosphere :) Can you reveal which product is the most popular among your customers?At the moment, the star product of Szwendam is the touristic t-shirts. The most popular accessories are travel bracelets and retro mugs. We can also see a certain trend, people choose small items on top of their main purchase to get the amount that guarantees free shipping.What advice would you have for brands that are just starting and looking for ways to attract new customers to their store?A unique product is key for the initial steps. There is nothing worse than to advertise a product that has no distinctive features and doesn’t stand out from similar products. In that case, you can spend a lot of money on advertising, but the effects will be for sure negative. You should take care of the details, small things are always appreciated! Remember to constantly improve and optimize your store. Why? You can have a great product, but no one will want to buy it if their way to the cart will be a complete torment :).Can you tell us more about your future plans?First, there will be new patterns of T-shirts with ‘full-print’ prints. These will be thermal shirts suitable for various sports, including trekking, running or cycling. So far in our offer we have only two t-shirts of this kind (one for women and one for men), but in the near future we want to develop this category further. Before Christmas, we will launch something exclusive within the "accessories" category and something warm in the "home" category. Next spring we will introduce functional accessories and organize short weekend breaks. It would be nice to hang out with a bigger team and do something interesting :).

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