Serial Entrepreneur Forging His Own Online Spice Routes
New Zealand-born James Lillis, 37, is the founder of Black Milk, “one of the fastest-growing Australian clothing companies you’ve never heard of, selling more than 1000 garments a day,” Glenda Korporaal writes in a profile of Lillis for the Australian about the “king of the nets”.
Black Milk is an online-only business selling nylon and lycra clothing such as leggings, swimsuits, skater skirts and T-shirts, featuring characters from Star Wars, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Adventure Time and DC Comics.
The company has never spent a dollar on conventional advertising, riding the internet and social media boom so popular with its 20- and 30-something customers. While some Australian retailers bemoan the rise of online retailing, Black Milk has built up a thriving business selling its clothing around the world, all made in its own factory in Brisbane.
The company was founded on a kitchen table in 2009. Lillis was a “serial entrepreneur, mostly with failed business ideas” looking for a new outlet when he decided to turn his hand to sewing.
Head of marketing Cameron Parker says Black Milk has never seen itself as part of the fashion community in Australia which means it is not bound by constraints. “We are outside the box. People laughed at us when they found out we were making crazy leggings and we were manufacturing in Australia.”
PayPal Australia chief executive Jeff Clementz argues that Black Milk, with turnover growing at double digits, year on year, is an example of “modern spice routes” developed by consumers spending online, developing new patterns regardless of geographical boundaries.
Black Milk is expanding its product range into clothes for men and plans a big push into gym wear, which Lillis thinks is a potentially large market for fun new designs. “We are going to create the best gym wear in the world,” he says modestly.
Original article by Glenda Korporaal, The Australian, February 21, 2014.