A Victorian couple who fell in love with their passion for the outdoors have now turned it into a business that is making millions.
When Cam Greenwood met his wife Elise, they were bonded over a shared love of nature – and their dizzying romance saw them engaged just five months later.
However, at the time, Cam was going through one of the most “challenging” times of his life.
It was 2017 and the surf brand he created at age 19 as a hobby took off over the five years since it launched.
But a Californian company was not happy and fought legally.
“I ended up dropping out of university to pursue the business full-time and it grew into a strong brand called Monsta Surf and I had clients from 40 countries,” he told news.com.au.
“So I had a green energy drink coming after us.”
The stressful period led the now 29-year-old – who didn’t even surf – to realize that the company he really wanted to run was being outdoors, rather than surfing.
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’s seen the couple go camping, have fun with friends and enjoy nature as part of their business research.
“We’ve really tried a lot of other brands in the industry and felt like it was almost performance-oriented, even in marketing it was about reaching the summit or featuring the athlete hanging off the side of the cliff with one arm,” he said. he said.
“It didn’t really resonate with how we saw the outdoors. A lot of Australians just love being outdoors and we really wanted to be a guide to get started in the great outdoors.
“Outdoors can be difficult to get into and people don’t know the technical jargon and equipment. We wanted to create a brand that was approachable and welcoming and guides people deeper into the great outdoors.”
The Victorian couple launched an equity crowdfund campaign in 2019, raising $300,000 from 550 investors to get their idea off the ground.
For the first 12 months, they worked on the Zorali from their home and launched just in time for the pandemic to hit Australia, selling everything from tents to camping chairs, drinks and kitchenware, wood stoves, backpacks and men’s and women’s clothing. .
“So it was kind of a crazy time. When Covid started, we were running an outdoor brand at a time when people were physically encouraged not to venture out with every lockdown,” Cam said.
“It looked like things could have gone quite a challenging path for us.
But surprisingly, it worked in their favor, as people felt the weight of restrictions deeply, Cam said.
“I think when something is taken away from you — the freedom to get outside and explore places near or far from home — it really makes you appreciate it that much more,” he said.
“Many of our friends and many people in our community and our customers after lockdown have just shown a much stronger appreciation for the simple joys of hiking or camping with their friends and those simple pleasures we all had. granted before the pandemic”.
He admits, however, that it was slow and “really hard” work the first year as they made $175,000 in sales. But that grew by 600% in the second year.
Last year, Zorali’s revenue exceeded US$ 2 million.
The brand’s best sellers include its camping chairs, which range from $119 to $199, and four different backpacks, which retail for $169.95.
There’s also a campground for $675, which Cam said makes hiking outdoors less “crushing” — it includes a tent, mat and camping pillow to get someone ready for a trip.
Elise, who leads a six-person design team, is focused on using recycled or organic materials, but also on making clothes that are visually appealing.
“Traditionally, a lot of outdoor clothing might not be super cool in terms of design,” Cam said.
“A strong area of interest is making outdoor gear that not only works great and looks super cool, but that you can also use on a hike or in town in your everyday life.”
Currently, 90% of their revenue comes from Australia, but now the couple, whose favorite outdoor destination is Otway in southern Victoria, is gaining US interest.
In July, they will launch a collaboration with US lifestyle brand Huckberry, popular for its outdoor gear.
Cam said Zorali has also evolved with the pandemic, with the duo seeing it more as a sustainable wellness brand that connects people to nature rather than an outdoor essentials company.
The couple recently enjoyed some time on Mount Feathertop, Victoria’s second tallest mountain, and that’s also part of their grand plan – to take their online presence offline, with an events calendar to be released later this year.
“It’s something that we’re really excited to grow – the experience side of Zorali – we don’t just see ourselves as an outdoor online retailer and we want to create these really meaningful experiences that go alongside the brand,” said Cam.
Originally Published as Victorian Couple Zorali’s Company Makes $2 Million Based on ‘Simple Pleasure’