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will charnley seasalt podcast

Hosted by Richard Hill

Ep 111:
Will Charnley:
How Seasalt Has Managed to Differentiate Their Fashion Brand in a Hugely Saturated and Competitive Market

Seasalt is a brand that knows who they are and what they are here to do. Make people feel a million dollars in beautifully designed clothing that lasts the tale and turbulence of time. 

It is a business with customers at their core and Cornwall in their heart. With an inspirational founding story and journey of growth throughout the years, getting this brand on our podcast was a no brainer. 

Will Charnley played a lasting role in Seasalt’s growth, digitally and in-store. After joining the team in 2018, he led the digital transformation process of the business and has helped them grow internationally.

eCom@One Presents:

Will Charnley 

Will Charnley is the Former Chief Sales Officer at Seasalt, a Cornish Clothing company with over 65 brick-and-mortar stores. After going through a digital transformation journey, Seasalt is on track to hit £100m in sales, largely due to its partnerships with M&S, Zalando, Next and Amazon US.

Prior to joining Seasalt, Will headed up Strategy at Greene King, the UK’s largest pub company. Before that, he spent his career at John Lewis in a variety of operational, strategic and transformation roles.

In this podcast, Will shares how Seasalt navigated the uncertainty of COVID-19 when they had to close all of their well loved stores. He discloses the three key differentiating factors that make Seasalt highly successful in a hugely competitive fashion market. 

Find out why Seasalt is closing down a few of their stores and opening others. Will discusses the challenges that Seasalt is facing when growing internationally and what’s next for this retailer. 

Listen to this podcast to hear how this family-owned Cornish company stays true to who they are to build long-lasting relationships with their loyal customers. 

Topics Covered:

1:52 – How his career progressed to Chief Sales Officer at Seasalt 

3:58 – The maturity in digital. Navigating the new normal after Covid

6:57 – How staying true to who they are kept their stores alive when the world got shutdown 

10:46 – What differentiates Seasalt in a saturated market

13:51 – Why Seasalt is closing down stores even though sales are increasing year on year 

18:05 – Ingredients that make Seasalt 

21:05 – The challenges they face growing internationally 

27:18 – Telling stories with email 

28:02 – How Paid Search , referral and affiliate marketing impacts the bottom line

30:55 – Looking after the team to retain top talent

34:55 – What’s next for Seasalt 

36:51 – Book recommendation 

Richard Hill:
Hi there. I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One. Welcome to episode 111. In this episode, I spoke with Will Charnley, Chief Sales Officer at Seasalt. Will and myself cover how Seasalt have navigated the uncertainty of COVID, when customers love visiting their physical stores. Why business is booming and they have a predicted sales of over £100 million, Seasalt closed down a handful of stores. How does Seasalt differentiate from which competitors in a hugely saturated market? What are the biggest challenges they're currently facing while growing Seasalt, internationally? And what's next for Seasalt. And so much more in this one.

Richard Hill:
If you enjoy this episode hit the subscribe or follow button wherever you are listening to this podcast, you are always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now, let's head over to this fantastic episode.

Richard Hill:
This episode is brought to you by eComOne, eCommerce marketing agency. eComOne works purely with eCommerce stores, scaling their Google shopping, SEO, Google search and Facebook ads through a proven performance driven approach. Go to ecomone.com/resources for a host of amazing resources to grow your paid and organic channels.

Richard Hill:
Hi, and welcome to another episode of eCom@One. Today's guest, Will Charnley, chief sales officer at Seasalt. How you doing Will?

Will Charnley:
I'm very well thanks, Richard. It's good to be with you.

Richard Hill:
Fantastic. We were just doing a little weather check as we like to do before we jump on. I think we're both enjoying an amazing British springtime aren't we?

Will Charnley:
Yeah, it's been a long time coming, it feels. It's been a big old winter and it's nice to have some light and some sunshine.

Richard Hill:
It just makes you feel so good, doesn't it? I'm definitely one of these people that... I love it when this weather turns. The March, April, obviously May now, but it just makes such a difference. Right, let's get into it, shall we, Will? So how did you end up being the chief sales officer at Seasalt?

Will Charnley:
Well, it's a long story Richard, but to boil it down, I think I've been very lucky with my career in the sense that certain leaders have picked out opportunities and I've been able to take on roles where perhaps I've not had the capacity or the experience, but someone's believed that I can develop in that space. So if I take my last three roles in strategy and transformation and moving towards that operational leadership and sales accountability, at no point in any of those roles was I natural fit and have the right experience to jump straight in and always boss it straight away. So I've been very lucky to work with people that have seen hopefully some potential and have said go and explore and build your knowledge up and take your experience and have the time to do that.

Will Charnley:
So my CEO at the moment, Paul Hayes, has been fantastic in helping me along the way, as have previous leaders. So it's gone through a journey of learning about retailers and working with retailers, not being digitally native and learning that along the way. Learning how to do particularly non D2C retail, so wholesale and what we call strategic partners. Just building that knowledge out really. So, very lucky to have had that, to do that over the last three to four years, and here we are.

Richard Hill:
Wow. So some great mentors along the way that have took you under their wing, if you like, and guided you and helped you and given you the opportunity here. That's great to hear isn't it? I hear that quite a lot, actually, especially in our space, because obviously I think our industry is obviously quite new, isn't it? So it is very much learning and growing as a business grows. It's not necessarily always the talent out there, if you like, not so much that. But obviously within a team, it's great to see that obviously leaders and businesses are using their internal team and promoting within and backing people within the team. We hear that a lot, it's great to see.

Will Charnley:
I think there's a number of facets to that. One is because digital is relatively new in terms of its maturity as a selling channel, and the interplay within all of that digital space in terms of digital marketing, in terms of all the ecosystem of technology that you want to build for your proposition in terms of last mile and all of that stuff. Then these intricacies within that, whether it's payment, whether it's in our world, it's fintechnology, whatever that looks like. There's no historical thing you can lean on to say tradition in retail and stores, we know how they behave because they've always behaved in a certain set of ways, and these certain magic sources that you can put together to make a brilliant execution.

Will Charnley:
Because today, we've gone through a pandemic and we've gone through a situation where online had a massive growth. Then it's really come back to a plateau to a new normal, I suppose, which is greater than where it was pre-pandemic, but it's not at the stage where it was in '20 and '21. Everyone's trying to make their, their minds up and trying to interpret what that means for them. Therefore there's no living expert who can say I can get my crystal ball out and tell you exactly what the magic is. Whereas I think in stores, it's a very, a very different experience, particularly for a mature store business like we are. So therefore it's really about thinking about what your customer wants, where they are today, what their priorities are, what their occasions are and all that kind of stuff.

Will Charnley:
And that doesn't need someone therefore who's tried, tested and led an eCommerce business for 20 years. It needs someone who's just really relevant today. So I've been very lucky to ride that journey over the last few years. Try and stay ahead of really where customers are going and headed, to then understand what that looks like from an eCommerce perspective. So, very lucky that I've been able to have the opportunity to do that, but I think it's a great opportunity in all that space for people who understand the best of eCommerce and have been on their journey, but also understand that we're in a new normal situation, and therefore everyone's opinion is very relevant and just interpreting what today looks like is the key.

Richard Hill:
I think that's so interesting because I think obviously your brand, particularly of the brands we've had on, I think obviously your stores are loved, as a lot of brands are, but your stores are totally loved. I know my colleague that booked you on the store, she's worked in one of your stores and is crazy for the brand and so are various other colleagues. Obviously navigating this last couple of years plus, two and a half years really, it's obviously so much uncertainty. How has that been to navigate? You touched on it there, but navigating from obviously very dependent on store sales and obviously we're closed and then we're opened, then we're closed, then we're opened, then we're closed. How has that been?

Will Charnley:
I think we were on a digital growth journey anyway, so I think that's just accelerated where we were going. Actually our website has grown its mix year on year since it was born effectively. So, that journey's just sped up a little bit. Where we've been with the pandemic is really relying on our credentials. I think what's happened with the pandemic is you've had a lot of customers willing to try new brands, there has been quite a lot of acquisition in that time. We've made sure that we've stuck true to who we are. Our brand value proposition, our quality of product, telling stories, particularly in the lockdown period, rather than just flogging product all the time. So trying to take a step back and really think about where the customer's at.

Will Charnley:
All our marketing was really around mindfulness, it was around book clubs, it was around cocktail making. It was around lots of nourishment for the customer to say you're locked down, we are locked down. It's not amusing, and therefore, what can you do practically and productive and creatively more importantly, around your environment to have a better quality of life during that period of time? Therefore, just putting more discount on products, which a lot of people are trying to do, because it was a very distressed time, isn't just going to generate those greater sales. I think customers really appreciated that investment in them, and really thinking about their lifetime value, rather than just saying what keeps us afloat over the next period of time. So what we did was we kept talking to our customers. We also acquired lots of new customers on some products that we identified quite early on. So face coverings, we put into play quite early doors. We had handy bands, which are neck wear, which you can pull up over your face, which gained a lot of traction, particularly in the digital space to acquire new customers.

Will Charnley:
We just utilized the fact that it was a bit like weather like this really, it was opportunities for people to be in their gardens and to be, whilst locked down, doing outdoor things and just stopping and slowing down. I think we tried to take that approach rather than go down the route of, as I say, just trade the hell out of what we could.

Will Charnley:
So I think that really helped us, and I think that the payback of that has been over the last year or so when lockdowns come to an end where people are recognizing those that are joined to the brand, those that have stayed with us, have recognized that hopefully we are a slightly different tempo and slightly different message retailer where our lifestyle is really about share our love of Cornwall. It's about what we do and our creative outlook, rather than it being we're just another lifestyle brand that just happens to sell some clothes that you might like to wear when you're thinking about being around the house or in the garden, or potentially going out or what have you. So I think that's the approach we've always tried to take. I think that's worked really well, even when our stores were shut.

Richard Hill:
A very creative element of connecting with every... We were talking off camera, weren't we, saying about we live out of towns and whatnot and we, no doubt, both spent quite a lot of time, as we all did, in lockdown in the gardens and at home and doing things and obviously engaging people at that level. Whether it's things to do in the garden or things to wear in the heat. Putting different promotions on that are to do with that maybe, but also just creating content and engaging and saying, look, we're all in the same boat. Rather than just pushing product discount, push, just shifting boxes in effect. Building that community element, that loyalty element. Obviously when the stores opened back up, I'm assuming you've had a pretty good time.

Will Charnley:
Very good time in stores. When I say we are different to our competitors. I think there are three reasons for that, all of which manifest themselves in the store. The environments, the aesthetics are very much Cornish facing. So share a lot of Cornwall being are brand value competition. So, that's our real ethos. So when you go into the stores, you feel that slightly different feel too, I hope, the service that our store teams give is absolutely first class, it's brilliant. They're such caring, considered, engaged people, and they really care about the brand and they really care about what they're there to do. That their mission is greater than just selling clothes. I think that's really vital. We've all been incredibly proud of our store teams, particularly in tough trading conditions, from the point of view of not just footfall and so on, but dealing with COVID in stores. So they've done a great job.

Will Charnley:
Then I think the third element of our differentiation is the product quality, which overrides everything, frankly, because if we haven't got great product, then we've got nothing to sell. Our product teams and our design teams and our technical teams, they do such a brilliant job in just bringing brilliant, fantastic, creative, artistic product to the market. The store is a place you can touch, feel, try it on, and so on. The stores remain a really core part of what we do. Being on this podcast allows me to talk about the fact that we are now trying to bring online and offline a little bit closer together. So when that customer comes into a store, in the near future, we will we be able to know them a little bit better because we know about their wish list or we know about their purchasing habits or we know what they've spent online or what have you. So those are the use cases. Not the more funky cases like Magic Mirrors and all this stuff, or Beacons, we're not obsessed about it, or to-

Richard Hill:
I was going to ask you that actually, but you went there already.

Will Charnley:
Yeah. Again, that's just knowing your customer. It's not about going out and trying to be all things technology led, it's about knowing where you are going to make a difference with that technology. For us, that's very much around identifying what customers like and how we get them to engage with us a little bit more. When we have some newness, or when we have sale launch, what are the things that tip them to come and shop with us or visit us either on the website or in a shop. So those are the things that we'll focus on. We'll try and give our store teams more tools by which they can engage a customer, not substitute them, not try and make it super seamless or efficient so that it's cutting out that conversation. It's about adding value and nourishment to that conversation.

Richard Hill:
Brilliant. Now, obviously you've got a lot of stores, but I do know there's a couple that have closed down. What would you say about that? Obviously not every store I'm assuming is going to fly, but obviously things are going very well. But ultimately I know you have been closing a couple of stores, what would you say on that?

Will Charnley:
Well, I think first of all, it's important to note that from a net position, we're still opening stores. So we're still growing up store base and we're planning to open a further for this year. So it's still very much that we're growing our store base. On individual cases, we'll look at things like the P&L and we'll look at how they're performing and we'll look at customer base in and around that area, et cetera. And are they serviced better by another shop or other channels?

Will Charnley:
So whilst I won't go into individual store cases, I think it's important to note that we are still growing our store base and still looking for opportunities to grow awareness in the UK, not only through our stores, but we are growing in Marks and Spencer stores as well. So we're putting shopping lots in, we're currently in 19 stores for M&S, and we're planning to get another 20 or so into those places as well. So we're still growing our physical store base effectively and that's still fundamental to what we do, it is part of awareness building. And we know that so many of our acquired customers see us because we've got a shop window in a high street. So, that's really vital.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think it's an interesting question because it's a bit of an obvious answer really, but I think just for the listeners, I know we have a lot of listeners that have got multiple... I know there's a few people listen that have got a couple of hundred stores. But ultimately, you've got a brand, but ultimately within that brand, if you've got 10 stores or 200 stores, if a store, its own P&L, it has a standalone asset standalone store, usually it has to make it profit, doesn't it?

Will Charnley:
Yeah, I think there are so many ways to look at it, aren't there? When I was working at John Lewis, you'd start to look at blended P&Ls, so cash sales of online and the store, and try and look at it in the round geographically. But ultimately, I still keep coming back to something Paul, my boss, said to me a few years ago, which was fundamentally the role of the store, which has been heavily debated, as we know, over the last few years, it still comes back to selling things to customers. Now, that doesn't necessarily need to be right there in the store right then, but it needs to be adding value to that customer because you've got that physical space in a location where you're selling to that community or that environment, and it's adding to that experience for the customer.

Will Charnley:
So if you're not doing that, then you have to ask what's the purpose of that thing being there. So that will generally involve quite a few sales at the point of them being in the shop, or it should do. So if it doesn't, then it is a question of what's it there to serve. I think that's where we've never had an issue with Seasalt because very much in the by and large, our stores are profitable and they are a very strong network of locations for us and great places for us to be where we've got customers who are dwelling, spending lots of time, nourishing themselves in great communities and environments and so on. So it's never really been a challenge for us, but we need to make sure that it continues to have a purpose of let's not get too clever, let's just make sure it still fundamentally has stock in a store and it sells.

Will Charnley:
Then we have added to that, which I do think makes difference, is we can fulfill online orders from those stores. That's probably the key enabling, in all of this. So it's not just about being productive in that location. It's also being productive to the wider network of having stock available in two places. I think that's an absolute fundamental in these times. But apart from that, the store needs to stand on its itself and say, does it have a purpose? If so, is it clear on what those targets are?

Richard Hill:
Brilliant. That's brilliant. Some great takeaways there. So you touched on in terms of walk-ins to the store, coming into store and then some of those differentiators. We've got a lot of listeners that are in very competitive niches, which is pretty much everybody really now, there are not many left, is there? So how does Seasalt differentiate, and what are some of the advice you give to our listeners about really trying to differentiate in a very crowded market?

Will Charnley:
Well, I think for us, as I say, we've got some really brilliant ingredients to the brand that enable us to differentiate without having to think too much. When I say think too much, I mean my end of the business. I think when I talk about my colleagues like Amy, our CMO, and Laura, are chief creative officer, they're the ones really bringing this all to the world where we start to sell things and present to the customer. So all that hard work. And Laura's done this for years and our founders, Neil and Lee and David, have done it again also just since the dawn of Seasalt. They've been thinking very carefully about what Cornwall means to customers, what creativity means both in terms of what you do in your life, but also how that then manifests itself into product, what the outlook is for our customers.

Will Charnley:
So when we talk about our raincoats, for example, we often have content and assets that are on top of Cornish cliffs. It says on the product, tried and tested on Cornish cliffs, and that sort of thing. It's just those little nuances of bringing it back to the brand, which I think are really pertinent and really mean something to the customer. So we don't have to go very far to take all of that great work that's been done within that branded part of the business to help really bring that to life. Then there's just the quality, the organic cotton, we've been Soil Association certified since 2005. I think we were the first retailer to do so, we've got organic cotton, we've got tin cloth in our raincoats, it's all recycled. We've got lots of this undercurrent of sustainability, brilliant material, great quality product, which lasts.

Will Charnley:
Again, it's not about wear once and you're done. It's very much we have customers that will show us Larissa Shirts or raincoats that they bought 15 years ago and they'll bring it out and say, "Look, I still got it." Kind of thing. So it's that quality, it's that care, it's that inclusivity when you go in and you feel very welcoming our store environments and hopefully you get that feeling on our website. So it all permeates from the brand, whether that's the product quality, the service, or the value that you get from your product. And that feeling of utility, because you've done something meaningful with having that product on, whether it's you are at a wedding or you're doing something creative, or it reminds you of holiday. It's that mindset. So I think we are very lucky in Seasalt that we've got that differentiation, really, at our fingertips.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. That's brilliant. Well, thank you for that. Thank you for that. So moving on to the international side, I think we get a lot of companies that listen, that have started off in whether that's the US, in the UK, and they're looking at then obviously launching in different territories. I know that's something that you guys have been focused on. What's been some of the biggest challenges you've had launching internationally?

Will Charnley:
It's a road full of challenges, isn't it? It's the rainbow at the end of this thing called international, and everyone thinks there's a big pot of money attached to it. But it doesn't matter which route to market you go down, and it doesn't matter what your strategy is, you have to just be prepared to take knocks. And I think you also have to be prepared to overinvest when it comes to international in order to achieve those scales and those economies in the long run.

Will Charnley:
So every part of your business is impacted by international, whether that's for us about product compliance, whether it's about taxation, finance, and reconciliations. Whether it's about logistics, obviously. Whether it's about eCommerce and how you set yourself up. Whether it's about marketing localization and all that stuff. All your businesses will know that, but you have to put stakes in the ground and say where's it important? Where is it okay to be okay? Where do you want to be brilliant? And therefore, what does that look like in terms of your overall strategy? So we've gone about it by first of all saying, don't try and go after everything, make sure you know where are your key markets? So where can you start to break that down? Where is it okay just to service a generic international territory in a quite generic way? So for example, our website, we work with globally. So globally it will localize the checkout, it will localize the currency, it will localize the welcome pop up. They're working on things like localizing the whole site and in-market marketing, digital marketing.

Will Charnley:
But we realize that we can't just bite off 15 different international storefronts from the back. We can't just build that out. You can go down an outsourced route, you can go down a completely in-house route. But both, again, you need to know where your direction of travel was to enable to do that. So that is part one, where is it okay to be okay, and where is it important to stand out, and where does your brand need to sing? How much awareness have you got? So, what's your marketing entrance point or do you have third parties you work with? So for us, we are looking at key third party relationships where we'll stock our product. We have some wholesale out internationally. So we have wholesale in Germany, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand and I think about 15 territories in the world.

Will Charnley:
So we that's again a way that which we are starting to build awareness. Then in a couple of those key areas, we're starting to actually overlay some key marketing activities, whether that's direct mail influences, on social, et cetera. Just to build that awareness. Then we have dropped in a couple of key territory marketplaces as well. So we're on Zalando, we're on Amazon US, just to build and continue to build that momentum of awareness. It's where the customers are shopping, it's where you're going to start picking up some followers and so on.

Will Charnley:
So it's just knowing your strategy of awareness, build where you want to play, how you want to play, and realizing that the levers need to be pretty well sequenced. Also, know that some places you're just going to have to spend a bit of money or spend a bit of effort working that through and then working out, at what point, what your tipping points? So, for example, at what point do you want to start putting product in a 3PL versus doing it from the UK? At what point do you want to have people on the ground in the market versus not? At what point do you want to start localizing your storefront versus not? At what point do you want to start marketing locally? So it's knowing where those scales work for each company, rather than saying we've got a grand five year plan and it's going to work like this. It never does. Particularly with COVID and the Ukraine war, and inflation and everything else, different territories move at different paces and different factors come into play.

Richard Hill:
Wow. Will, that's a lot of stuff. So I would pause this episode, rewind seven minutes. There's a lot of things there that ultimately... Such a detailed response. But I think, would you say that it's really somebody that's maybe very established say in the UK or the US, and they're looking for that first move. So it would be to pick a market, but obviously it's picking a market based on some serious research, around maybe if you're getting certain existing orders. But work with a research company potentially to look at demand, whether it's US, UK, Australia, wherever you're looking to test, and you're testing with a set budget. You're setting certain targets to hit before you then start to, as you say, either then stock to wherever or you've got people on the ground you start to leverage maybe marketplaces in that area, which is probably where you maybe we would start. So start with identifying a market will be a good start point.

Will Charnley:
Yeah. It's one of those things that, because it's so small to start with compared to your UK market, it's one of those things that everyone will probably look at you and go, am I going to invest the time and effort in it because it's so small? But you have to start somewhere. So therefore, there needs to be that absolute business commitment that you're going to put your best foot forward and try it, even if it is absolutely minuscule to start with. So it needs to have that internal engagement and start from there. Do your testing, do your market research, as you've described, look for those nuggets of information, whether that's international sales on the UK site, whether that's awareness, whether that's other brands in that space, whether it's a bit of in-house territory research and so on. Then start to build from that in terms of strategy. But it's about test, learn and it's about footsteps. It's not about building a grand plan, because as soon as you do that, things change and so on. So yeah, absolutely.

Richard Hill:
That's brilliant, Will. Thank you. So digital channels, obviously so many out there, we've done many episodes on everything. Obviously that's what we do in the background here as an agency. But what channels have been really strong for you over the last couple of years? Any specifics you can give us?

Will Charnley:
Yeah. I think some of the usual channels for us that, the well trodden channels that have done well. Email continues to do well for us, it's a massive mix of our revenue, because we've got very engaged database and they like hearing stories about Cornwall, they like seeing product and they like it in photo shoots and so on. So it's a very easy way for us to talk about our product and talk about what we're up to in a very refreshing way. So if I compare that to our competitor emails, which are very price orientated, or very much product orientated, I'd like to think that the way our marketing teams and our digital teams tee up those emails is very much about stories around the product, rather than it being straight in on those.

Will Charnley:
That's part one. Part two, the team beneath me, so Tim our digital director, Rich, our PPC manager, Anya, our head of digital marketing, they are brilliant at starting to optimize paid search. That's been a really big area for us generally. It's a pretty good bellwether channel for us. If paid search is doing well, we're doing well, I'd say.

Richard Hill:
By paid search, you mean Google search?

Will Charnley:
Yeah. Primarily Google and a little bit on Bing, but mainly Google. So yeah, that's a very good area for us. It's generally a good sign of the health of the business as well, because we don't do much branded because it's quite competitive. Whereas people searching Seasalt raincoats or Seasalt clothing, it's a very good area for us. So that's been very positive over the last year, particularly, and the guys have really started to optimize that and they work really hard to do that.

Will Charnley:
Then probably the last channel I'd pick out is referral and affiliates, actually. So in the pandemic, we did quite a lot around supporting particularly NHS workers and Blue Light Card, key worker cards, kind of thing. Discounts in there and that's paid back over time because customers will then come and shop with us a little bit more because they're willing to give us a go at a bit of a discount, but also it was a nice way for us to say thanks to the NHS staff for what they were doing in this time. That referral channel is definitely growing in terms of art spend and our mix. But also I know it's grown for other retailers as well. It's definitely a much more prevalent channel now than it probably was prior to the pandemic. So it's definitely one I'm seeing quite a lot of growth on.

Richard Hill:
That's great. Three there. I think it's amazing on the email to hear that. I think it's definitely had almost like a resurgence this last couple of years, email, and very much about where you started this episode with Seasalt brand, very much talking about engaging the communities, the people and what's going on in Cornwall. That brand side of things, and the people, which obviously you can get across an email it's very difficult to get across in search ads. You can obviously, but it's a little bit more limited. But yeah, it's great to see that. Brilliant. Okay.

Richard Hill:
So a bit of a tangent now, a bit of a change of direction. So obviously multi store, and hundreds and hundreds of people working at Seasalt, how have you guys navigated the people side of things? Working from home, obviously that's been a huge change for a lot of people. Very high on everyone's radar at the moment is the cost of living, also that around retaining your talent as well. So we've got quite a few questions in one there really, but the people piece.

Will Charnley:
I think from my perspective, we've navigated it pretty well actually. I think what I'd say is the HR part of the businesses has really led this from our perspective, done a great job in terms of interpreting what all this means for a business like ours. When I mean that, we were slightly different in terms of obviously being Cornish based prior to the pandemic, a lot of it was about how do we get talent in Cornwall and how do we bring people down? It's a very competitive market, particularly digitally, but we need to see bums on seats, kind of thing. I think that's changed massively actually through the pandemic. So we've got more remote workers now than we ever have. We are quite willing to work with that remote set up and hybrid set up.

Will Charnley:
And really, we're still interpreting it. The rules around work are so different now, but they're never going to stay settled forever. I think it will always be continuously evolving. Yeah, exactly. So from that perspective, we're still all interpreting it as a group and as a business. For me, particularly with digital, the thing I would say is it's important that the digital guys in our world know who their key stakeholders are and do they have FaceTime with them every so often? So whether it's merchandising or marketing or the creative side of things. But if you're effective at home, broadly speaking, and if you are remote particularly, then it's okay to be where you need to be, to be effective. That's fine.

Will Charnley:
But what Seasalt does rely on though, is a bit of a sense of place and a sense of belonging and a sense of engagement. So it's important to have that touchpoint. But provided you have that touchpoint every so often, and I'm not going to sit here as a leader and determine what that looks like. I'm not going to say coming on a Tuesday and a Thursday, I'm more likely to say we might have a call day once every couple of weeks, or we might say you guys decide, you own your work life, so tell me when you are going to be in and I'll work to that arrangement. That's where we've been, far more flexible and far more thoughtful about actually, what does that look like for individuals?

Will Charnley:
Yeah, I think that's how we've navigated it. But I think it's a really positive thing for us, because it means we're spreading our talent at net wider. It means we're really thinking about people's best engagement on their terms. But also we're still saying, look, still feel connected, still make sure that you're engaging with your teams and still make sure that you have moments where you have that touch point. In most cases, physical touch point with the office and so on every so often to make sure that you still feel part something and having those conversations and social conversations, because I think that's still really important.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. That's the thing, I think it's obviously getting that balance. Like you say, it's not like everyone in on a Tuesday or Thursday potentially, obviously that can work of course. But having that balance, giving them the choice, certain days. Obviously if that does mean maybe potentially less travel, that's going to help with the increase in living costs and things like that. It's going to have an impact, isn't it, if you have to go in every day, which I know some firms are obviously still doing that. But a lot less, if there's a digital element into the business.

Will Charnley:
Yeah, exactly.

Richard Hill:
Okay. So what I would love for you to finish on is maybe something on the roadmap for Seasalt that is not that well known. That maybe you shouldn't be, not shouldn't be telling us, because I wouldn't ask you to do that. But maybe something that I'll be like, oh, and I'll go back to the office and go, "Oh, bet you didn't know that Seasalt are doing this." So is there something new? Any new initiatives in store that are coming down the line or anything? Any new digital marketing strategies you're testing, trying? Or any new teams you're building?

Will Charnley:
I think probably it's a shame that we've talked about international because I had a ta-dah moment. But unfortunately we've gone there. I suppose the area that is very exciting from a product perspective is we're starting to build out our menswear strategy, which is great. I think that's really worthwhile, very much core part of what we're doing over the next few years. Hopefully not a trade secret from the point of view, we've already got menswear in and it's growing, the option is growing for '22 and it's going to go further in '23. So that's very exciting for us. We feel that there's a customer there to engage with that. Particularly if you're in a store, you might see the lady and her husband or partner or whatever, hanging around whilst customers in the fitting rooms. Likely a good opportunity there.

Will Charnley:
I would actually go back to international because I do like talking about international. I think we are certainly looking to grow those partnerships and really work with retailers in territory. We're not a million miles away from hopefully a couple of storefronts as well. So that's where the real fun starts around localization. Looking at in-territory marketing, looking at-in territory phasing of sales, whether that's through Labor Day or Thanksgiving or what have you. And starting to get really more local and tailored in that space. I think they're probably the two biggies I would call out as on the agenda Seasalt. But there are lots of things we're doing, particularly digital. We really do see ourselves as a digitally led omnichannel retailer. So using the best of digital in our channels.

Richard Hill:
Brilliant. Well, thank you, Will, it's been an absolute pleasure, fantastic episode. I always like to finish every episode with a book recommendation. Do you have a book that you recommend to our listeners?

Will Charnley:
So this is the one question I prepared because Carrie Ann said, "What's your book recommendation?" This one was the only one I thought, I really need to think about this one. So I got this one here. I don't know if you can see it, but this is called Legacy by James Kerr. This is about the All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team, and the amazing success they've had over the past 15, 20 years, and how they sustain themselves and how they bring new people in and how they continue to be hungry.

Will Charnley:
It's a really book about leadership. I think leadership is the biggest area for me that I've been going on a learn and growth journey on, and will continue to do so for a number of years, because managing people and leading people is a very different set skills to functionally knowing what you might be able to talk about, whether it's propositions or delivery or sales plans or whatever. So me just understanding how people work best with people and bring you into that culture, define that culture and have a successful culture. Can't say I've actually done any of that just yet. But just reading about it's been has been really interesting. So just seeing how they keep that sustained drive, it's been fascinating. So yeah, Legacy is really interesting.

Richard Hill:
That sounds brilliant. I think that'll resonate with a lot of our listeners. It's going to be in the basket in about 30 seconds. It's not one I've read, so that'll be getting add to the bookshelf. Well, thanks Will for coming on the podcast. It is really been a fantastic episode. For those that want to reach out to you, maybe find out more about Seasalt, what's the best way to do that?

Will Charnley:
Probably LinkedIn is the place you'll find me. So yeah, go for that.

Richard Hill:
Have a look for Will Charnley on LinkedIn. Lovely. Well, thanks Will, looking forward to catching up again.

Will Charnley:
Thank you. Bye-bye.

Richard Hill:
Bye.

Richard Hill:
Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce podcast. If you enjoyed today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter and leaves a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eComOne, the eCommerce marketing agency.

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