Mister Timbuktu: The Business Side of Things
Not just another f***king legging brand...
Mister Timbuktu is here to make sure you're supported + looking good in the outdoors whilst contributing to positive change.
After lovingly brewing her concept for years, founder Rhianna launched her crowdfunding campaign in December 2017 and it was soon 123% funded...to NOBODY'S surprise, because there are so many reasons to love this brand.
Here's why we love Mister Timbuktu:
The prints are super cute and nature-related
Our favourite is the Atlas print - which happens to also be Rhianna's favourite! The print is taken from a topographical map of Wilsons Promontory National Park, which is Rhianna's favourite place in the world; it's where she first started exploring and doing overnight solo hikes years ago.
The care for their makers
Mister Timbuktu's raincoat manufacturer is BSCI-certified, which basically means that working conditions comply with human rights conventions and national labor laws. Their leggings and crop top manufacturer is a small family-run ethical business.
Rhianna has personally visited the Mister Timbuktu's raincoat manufacturer in China and crop top and leggings manufacturer in Indonesia: "It was amazing to put a face to the names that I have been working with for months. After hundreds of emails, Skype sessions and many samples, to be able to meet with the makers in person, chat about their lives, meet their families and personally visit the factories was great."
Rhianna plans to visit all manufacturers at least annually, and ideally biannually, to keep up a good relationship with the makers and be able to check product quality prior to shipping.
The commitment to giving back
20% of Mister Timbuktu's profits go towards people and planet-based charities - currently, the Australian charities Waves of Wellness and Foundation of National Parks & Wildlife.
The fabrics are made from recycled materials
Trash like plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets, that otherwise end up in the ocean, are turned into Mister Timbuktu's silky soft and breathable material (seriously though, I have a pair of the Atlas print tights via backing the crowdfunding campaign and I have hiked, climbed and squatted in them, without any issues!).
Even the packaging is a conscious decision to minimise environmental impact...
There is so much single-use plastic in standard supply chains as manufacturers typically individually package items in plastic, and businesses often ship their products out to customers in this plastic, inside (another) plastic satchel.
Mister Timbuktu forgo this plastic and ship products in cardboard mailing envelopes. These envelopes can be recycled; however, the vision is to move towards a mailer option that is made from recycled materials or is completely compostable.
And now, for something different...we thought you might like some insight into the business-side of things so we asked Rhianna some behind-the-scenes questions:
What was the very first item of clothing created for Mister Timbuktu?
My initial cause of frustration was with hiking pants and they were going to be the debut product for the brand (SWW: we totally get this!!!! We have never seen an attractive pair of hiking pants...)
However, I decided to launch with a more universal product and chose leggings. During the sampling process for fabric and manufacturers I worked with leggings, but also have included crop tops and raincoats in multiple prints for the first collection.
How long did it take you to get Mister Timbuktu up and running?
It took sixteen months from initial sketch to officially launching the brand. This process was significantly longer than originally planned; however I didn’t want to rush the launch with a poor quality product. I wanted to do it properly and know the product was as sustainable and of the highest quality as possible.
Over the sixteen months, in addition to product and print design, sampling and manufacturing, I had to run a crowdfunding campaign, design all brand collateral, build a website, create a marketing strategy, set up freight, logistics and financials and all the other behind-the-scenes processes that you don’t know about until you run your own business.
Were there times when you thought that it was never going to happen?
Why and how did you get through them?
Absolutely! The process of setting up the brand has been incredibly challenging, from plateauing during the midway mark in the crowdfunding campaign, obtaining recycled certifications for fabrics and unexpectedly increasing production costs and lead times. It’s been an intense and steep but rewarding journey.
It’s also been challenging running a business by myself whilst trying to compete with the big brands and their resources and budget.
I've found it best to break the challenges down into micro-steps. And at times, the best thing you can do is take a break and disconnect, do something outdoors and you’ll usually come back with a fresh perspective and solution.
Are there companies that inspire you, and that you model Mister Timbuktu off?
Patagonia is definitely the industry leader for sustainability, reducing environmental impact and creating awareness about social and environmental issues caused by supply chains. They have an incredible product and mission and do so much good, I love what they’ve achieved and are a huge inspiration.
Thankyou is also an incredible brand that is doing so much good for the world. They’ve been able to disrupt a difficult industry with a unconventional business model and have been innovative in everything they’ve done, proving you can create a new way to operate and be successful.
What is your long-term vision for Mister Timbuktu?
For Mister Timbuktu to become an industry leader; a recognisable brand that’s synonymous with adventure, quality and sustainability. For the product range to cater to all outdoor activities with technical gear that’s innovative and as sustainable as possible, including tents, sleeping bags and more. I’d love to create a new standard of sustainability, educate about how the fashion industry can become more sustainable and inspire women to get outdoors more.
We hope you get behind this awesome Aussie brand!