With UNIT NINE launching in December of 2016 as a luxe, high performance training gear brand with modern designs they have managed to bridge the gap between current fashion trends in the activewear space.

 

When asked about how the concept of UNIT NINEcame about, businesswoman Anna Whiteside, stated there were three key moments that ultimately led to its inception.

  “I was trying to find a yoga towel to buy and all I could find was a drab coloured yoga towel that I didn’t love and which was hideously expensive.” Anna said. ” I was also at yoga one night and I was becoming super irritated (not ideal in a yoga class!) at my new yoga mat which had an exceptionally strong rubber smell.  I didn’t want to get close to it, which is pretty hard to do in a yoga class and left the class super annoyed and very un-zen like.”

She also found that after starting one on one sessions with a boxing trainer, there was a lack of stylish boxing gloves that didn’t make you feel like a walking billboard

“All I could find were gloves with huge brand logos slapped all over them, and I mean everywhere…. not my style at all!”

Unit Nine theright.fit interview series

Who was your greatest champion (biggest supporter)?

There are a few. Firstly, my amazing business partner Ewan. She’s my sister and she knows more about yoga mats than she probably needs to since she doesn’t even do yoga. Also my close friend Ange who listens to me ramble on about different designs, types of rubber and is patient whilst I do a million or so Instagram posts!

What are your top tips for starting a business?

 A few tips I can offer are:

  1. Design for your customer.  “In our case, we ensure that our fitness apparel is designed for our customer’s needs,” Anna said.  “Your customer should always be at the heart of your decisions.”
  2. Research research research. “Talk to people who have experience in the field you are in, be crystal clear about your product and what you want it to be, and never ever compromise on your vision.”
  3. Trial away. “Keep producing samples of your products until it is where it needs to be before committing to producing your product in bulk.”
  4. Clear communication. “Ensure you have an agreement with the manufacturer on everything from payment terms to defect products and so on.”
  5. Be open to feedback. And make sure you get LOTS of it. “Very importantly make sure you get lots of feedback on every aspect of your product, ensure you test it, test it, and test it again with people. Products need to evolve, so don’t expect it to be perfect first time, get feedback, and adjust.”

 

What do you believe every brand/business needs to be successful long term?

When we ask a businesswoman or industry professional what makes them and thier business successful they will always come back to one thing: authenticity.

“For a brand or a business to be a success, there are a few things that help,” Anna said.

  • Purpose.  “You need to know what your purpose it. Do you solve a problem for a customer?”
  • Authenticity. “Authenticity is a big one. Customers buy into brands, so ensure you know what your brand stands for and stick to it.”
  • Ability to evolve.  “The best brands and businesses are constantly evolving, no one is standing still.”

Passion is key to success, Anna says. You need to be passionate and love what you do because a start-up is not a walk in the park.

“It’s a lot of work and usually many tears, so if you don’t love it, it will become too hard very quickly.”

 

Unit Nine theright.fit interview series with Anna Whiteside

When you develop your own brand and business ultimately there will be obstacles along the way. How do you manage those challenges?

Control what you can control is my advice, no matter how much planning and preparation you do things always come up, be comfortable knowing that and understanding you will have to roll with them as they come up.  Having a startup definitely tests your resilience though!

Some obstacles we had were:

Time

“This is a big one.  Having a corporate job and having a startup is challenging and for me that has meant working 7 days a week and sacrificing some of my personal life such as nights out and weekends away.  Exercise was never sacrificed, this has helped me to keep going.”

 

Manufacturers 

“Finding the right manufacturer takes a while and lots and lots of patience. It’s a good job my business partner Ewan has patience in bucket loads. You must persevere with finding your right manufacturer as it can be a very disheartening and frustrating process at times and you often will think you will never get there, but it will be worth it in the end.”

 

Shipping 

“Australia is a long way from anywhere else in the world!  Therefore, working out how we cost effectively ship around the world is something we will continue to grapple with. We have a lot of people from around the world contacting us wanting to know where their local distributor is, it’s a great problem to have this early on and a good one to solve.”

 

Is your business/brand a side project or is it your full-time job?

UNIT NINE is a side project now and when I say side project its 7 days a week every spare minute of the day I have!

Unit Nine Anna Whiteside theright.fit interview series

 

What role does social media play in the success of your business and its marketing strategy?

Social media is currently important for brands and businesses as it gives you a great platform from which to reach and connect with customers you may not previously had access to.  Ultimately though if you don’t have a great product and give exceptional service to your customers no matter how great your Instagram looks you still won’t sell your product.

Where do you see yourself and your brand in five years’ time?

Anna sees herself living in Australia in five years time, still loving life. She also wants to be able to do a hand stand in yoga.

In terms of the brand, Anna says she hopes Unit Nine will still be “going strong”. “I hope our prodct will be available internationally and I want to see loads of people getting their sweat on using our gear!” 

Unit Nine Anna Whiteside theright.fit interview series

How did you go about shooting content for your brand for your marketing materials? Would the right fit have made this easier (if you didn’t use theright.fit)?

We did a few things:

  1. We used theright.fit to connect with the appropriate influencers at the start to get our product out into the market and get content for our socials. This was much easier than I anticipated, Taryn was exceptionally helpful and gave us good tips and feedback to ensure we got the result we wanted from the influencers.
  2. We are very lucky to have amazing photographers as friends such as Mark Bond Photography who shot at events we held which created amazing content for us.
  3. We have a great PR team, TEAM UNLTD, who has been amazing in setting up events, photoshoots and connecting us to key influencers.
  4. We encourage our customers to post pictures of them using our products and this has been an amazing source of content.

 

Any final comments?

 Yes, we would like to share our brand philosophy! UNIT NINE is an Australian brand that is shaking up the everyday sports accessories market by creating high quality, fun, unique and sweat inducing sports gear. We want to inspire people to start moving, get sweaty and have lots of fun while doing it.  Our motto is “Let’s get sweaty”.

 


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Unit Nine theright.fit interview series