Small business story: Knobby Underwear (Part 1 of 5)


Rob Rand: It really does give them this hidden
confidence in their pants to feel really special about themselves. My name’s Rob Rand and I’m
the founder and managing director of KNOBBY Underwear. KNOBBY is a subscription underwear
club. My wife and I, we first started in 2014. We’re a fun, light-hearted, colloquial Aussie
brand. We ship a new unseen design to members all
over the world every month. This is our genius illustrator and designer
Phil here. This one he’s working on now, which is a bit of a sneak peek. Phil: Big inspiration on the tiger – nothing
more powerful than a tiger, so… That’s the original design on the screen. That’s how
it comes out on the KNOBBY. Rob Rand: So the brand is quite unique because
it’s created a culture about guys no longer… hidden with their underwear. So they now are
quite open about their underwear. They’ll take photos of their underwear. They’ll talk
to others about what designs they’re wearing. We use social media more to, you know, engage
with our customers, we listen to our customers for feedback. It’s allowed us to create new
products, new styles. Man: A couple of the feedback and reviews
we get coming in… I think my favourite one is just that it’s so short and sweet – “You’re
less of a company and more of a mate.” “Massive complaint about KNOBBY – they’re so perfect,
how am I ever meant to go back to wearing anything else?” Rob Rand: We never in the slightest set out
to create a women’s range when we first started the brand. Ash Rand: We were getting emails all the time
from women saying, “Why can’t I get mine? I see my husband get his surprise in the mail.
Where’s mine?” So in the end, we were like, “Hm, why not? Let’s do it.” We have two sides to the business. There’s
the subscription side and then there’s also the online store. The online store has some
previous months’ designs in there, but it also is an avenue for us to do some special
edition releases. Rob Rand: We see KNOBBY as very much a tech
company. We struggled to just be able to purchase an off-the-shelf shopping cart system. You
know, we were so much more than that. We were based on a subscription model. That entailed
us having to create our own software applications behind the scenes. It allowed us to really
integrate in with Australia Post’s system. In all, it just creates a really seamless
integration. This is a part of our back-end software called
Backbone You know, we’ve built in some real-time mapping technology. It allows, you know, everybody
in here to really stay aware of where every single pair that’s been packed and where it’s
been sent to. We reach some crazy corners of the country. I still scratch my head as
to how Australia Post manages to get to some of these places. Ash Rand: A big focus of what we do is…
We call it the KNOBBY experience. So everything has been meticulously designed and crafted,
from the package that arrives, the way it’s opened, the messaging that is written on the
box as you open it until you finally open up your underwear, which is a surprise design.
People love that. Rob Rand: Australia Post has been with us
since the very first pair was sent. We’re now really fortunate to have a really nice
local support network with Australia Post. It allows us to ship our product to so many
places in the world, dependent on the… whether it’s the customer’s budget, how much they
want to spend, how quickly they need it. Ash Rand: We approach our work life with more
of a work-life integration approach. It’s so handy having us both work together because
we can go to the beach with the dogs and the kids and be working. We might go from talking
about what we’re having for dinner to talking about the marketing strategy to talking about
the kids at kindy. Rob Rand: We have a small team. Our team is
very much what creates KNOBBY. We’re always really looking for somebody who fits the brand,
the culture and just, you know, the personality as well. So the cool thing about having really
awesome people is you can just let them go and do their job and you just have so much
trust and you know it’s going to be awesome.

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