Life Instyle had the opportunity to sit down with Crowd Collective’s Design Director, Charles Ng, to find out what it takes to become a keen innovator within the retail industry and how his business has gone from strength to strength in such a short period of time.
How and why did the brand begin? Tell us a little bit about your background & journey in what led you to start Crowd Collective.
We are lovers of design. As a small collective in Melbourne, we take a holistic approach to design and believe that good design goes beyond the product alone. Above all, design should also create a great experience for its users. It all started with a few products that we came up with to solve our own problems. We spent some time designing and prototyping before we introduced the ideas to the public via crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. We’re lucky enough to have, in total, 4 successful campaigns for the brands of Madera, MaCo and Orbitkey so far. Sparkstone is a slightly different approach in which we collaborate with the original designer / manufacturer to come up with a brand that is relevant to the Australian market.
What product has been nominated for the GALA awards? Why do you think it was chosen?
Sparkstone has been nominated for the Innovation category. With a growing need for portable batteries, the market quickly gets saturated with boring and static designs which don’t add much to the user experience. We believe Sparkstone was chosen because it takes a unique approach to the market by offering something that’s ergonomically shaped and does not look like the traditional electronic device. It is aesthetically pleasing and nice to hold.
Any new and exciting products coming for 2016? Can we catch a glimpse of what you’re working on?
We strive for design excellence and are constantly refining all of our products based on the feedback we get from customers and retailers. There are a lot of things in the works but to be honest, other than small iterations and style variations, I cannot tell you exactly which one of the new projects will be able to be introduced in 2016. What I could tell you is that we would like to collaborate with other innovative / crowdfunded products out there and make them accessible to the Australian market.
Where are your main customers located and what kind of retailers are they?
Most of our current retailers are design, gift and fashion stores that appreciate great designed products and they are located all throughout Australia. When looking for retailers, we always look for something that would work in the long term, in which both parties will benefit from the partnership. We believe that it’s not about having the widest range of products, but more about having the right selected number of quality products and we hope to find retailers who have the same approach.
How important is it for you to maintain authenticity and uniqueness when creating your designs?
We believe authenticity and uniqueness is a huge factor that allows us to excel in Australia. Having said this, there are quite a few more things that are important to us, whether we are designing or looking for other products to introduce in Australia i.e. aesthetic, functionality and affordability.
We always try to think from the customer’s perspective and some of the questions we might ask would be:
– Does it serve a purpose?
– Are there other similar products out there?
– How is it different from other products? What more can we offer?
– Is it aesthetically pleasing?
– Does it create a great experience for the users?
What pieces from your collection are you most proud of and why?
As much as we love all of our products, we are proud of the achievements of Orbitkey and Madera in the short period of just over two years. We love the fact that it challenges the way we have done something for such a long time. It was great seeing the reactions of people when they saw the Orbitkey and thought “that makes so much sense!” We also love seeing the surprised reactions whenever we show people the little hidden functional features that each one of the Madera products have i.e. RFID protection, coin and sim card slots. It reminds us that all the thoughts and hard work that go into designing the product will pay off in the end.
What do you consider the key strengths of your business?
I believe that the key strength of Crowd Collective is that we have a good balance of people from different backgrounds working together to achieve one goal – that is, to provide value and create great experience by coming up with beautiful and functional solutions to everyday problems. Having a design background and by focusing on the users, we eliminate the majority of the issues that might arise and this in turn makes everyone happy! When customers are happy, we are too! On top of this, having a team looking after the sales and marketing aspects of the business is crucial. There are so many designers out there doing great things but struggling because they do not have a good grasp of the business side of things.
Brands you admire?
There are quite a few but here are our favourites: Bellroy, Native Union, Cote et Ciel, Everlane, KeepCup, Elk, crumpler and Country Road.
How would you describe your style?
Simple + Balance + Minimal. Colour palettes would be the basics, such as navy, white, khaki and charcoal. No big logos, not too colourful, but with great proportion and well executed.
Charles Ng is the Design Director of Crowd Collective.
For more information on Crowd Collective visit their website & follow them on Facebook or Instagram.————————————————————————————————————————————————
Winners will be announced at the GALA evening on Saturday 20 February 2016 at Dockside Pavilion.
Join us for the retail industry night of nights…
Saturday 20 February
Dockside Pavilion, Darling Harbour
6.45pm – 11pm
Held at the stunning Dockside Pavilion, GALA is the perfect night to get your team together, let your hair down and celebrate all the hard work that went into 2015. Tickets include all drinks, dinner, entertainment and a fun environment to network and celebrate this great industry.
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For more information visit our website or call 02 9422 8686