Laura and Jason are a couple from North Carolina, who were both working in marketing when they decided to switch from launching other people’s products, to launching their own. This is the story of how they took a unique idea to shake up an industry and turned it into a thriving Ecommerce business, resulting in an exit to the tune of $200K.
The idea was simple but unique. Create women’s tights and hosiery for all body shapes, that is both stylish and comfortable.
Hipstiks was founded in 2016 at the beginning of the year and Laura and Jason moved quickly to get the business launched. The idea was fully formed in February and by the end of February they had a name, a logo, a mission statement and a plan for how they would build the business. When June rolled around, they’d secured a manufacturer and were working on fit-testing. By September the website was live, and before the end of the month customers were receiving products.
“The slower you work, the further away you are from knowing the viability and the further you are away from a revenue stream,” says Laura, Co-Founder of Hipstiks Legwear.
Changing an industry
While the business officially launched in 2016, Laura had been sitting on the idea from a very young age. As a child Laura had always hated having to wear uncomfortable and itchy hosiery, pantyhose and tights. Later in life she saw how many other women had the same struggles when she worked in a department store in the hosiery department.
“At that time it was difficult to help women find comfortable and correctly fitting hosiery. The sizing charts were difficult to navigate and it was often embarrassing for women to have to disclose their weight in order to find a size and even then they would often be ill-fitting,” Laura.
As Laura put it, “This particular category of women’s apparel was very broken and it needed some help.”
Laura had no idea at the time, but she would be the person to give the category the help it needed.
It would be a few more years before the idea for Hipstiks came to life. Back then, shapewear was growing in popularity and women’s clothing was more about changing your body shape for a certain look rather than making the clothes fit you. The market wasn’t quite ready for a different perspective.
Fast forward a number of years and the body positivity movement is growing, particularly among women, making way for Laura and Jason to create a diverse hosiery product that is comfortable for women to wear. Placing equal value on comfort and style, the market was crying out for a product like Hipstiks.
Partners in life and in business
Some may question going into business with their spouse but this wasn’t the first time Laura and Jason had worked together. The pair met while working at a marketing agency where they would work on client projects together.
Together, they had a combined 30 years of marketing and product experience which they drew on to grow their business. It was a busy time as they had just gotten married and originally launched the product as a side hustle to their day jobs at the marketing agency.
“It was interesting to draw on our experience in launching products to see if we could do it ourselves, be more entrepreneurial and build something with our own money,” says Jason.
Having launched products for clients before they knew they had the skills to nail the initial phase, but would they be able to manage the day to day operations after launching, ongoing inventory management, and finances? While it was a learning curve, they mastered the skills and adapted along the journey.
With a quality product, a strong early customer base, SEO and marketing skills, and a diverse sales channel strategy, Hipstiks began to grow. At the time of sale the business was generating a Trailing Twelve Month (TTM) Revenue of more than $112K and a returning customer rate of 23%. The time they invested in SEO had resulted in 20K average monthly page views and a Domain Authority score of 36.
When is the right time to sell?
From the beginning they had planned to sell, but identifying the right time to sell is not always obvious when you’re working on the business day in and day out. For Laura and Jason, it took someone looking in from the outside to help them realize the value of what they built.
“Ashwin [Flippa Account Manager] helped us tremendously to see the value and that Flippa is the right place to find the right buyer for us,” says Laura.
Jason and Laura knew selling might take some time but they were willing to be patient. And they timed the sale to perfection. Sales for hosiery increase throughout the winter months so in order to capitalize on their peak sales months, they launched at the start of winter which meant buyers would see real-time revenue growth while the business was listed for sale on Flippa. Another great example of the importance of connecting financial and site traffic integrations through Flippa when selling.
“I heard about Flippa on a podcast and our fulfillment partner also told us about it… What we loved about Flippa was the pay for performance model” Laura. Jason and Laura liked that it wasn’t costing them anything to keep the live listing on Flippa, they only paid when the business sold.
Once they found the right buyer there wasn’t too much negotiation thanks to Flippa’s accurate valuation of the business. Coupled with the know-how and continued support from Flippa, negotiations were smooth and fast, but the due diligence process was extensive. The detail in which the buyer went into gave them the confidence that they were serious, and after four months the deal closed!
The sale of Hipstiks is not the last entrepreneurial venture for Laura and Jason. They took their success growing Hipstiks, and built a marketing agency that uses their previous experience in launching brands that consumers value to help other Ecommerce businesses replicate the success they had with Hipstiks.
So will Laura and Jason be starting another Ecommerce business? Right now they’re focusing their efforts on their marketing agency Fifty Fifty, although they have a few ideas bubbling under the surface. And they continue to keep an eye on Flippa to see what’s for sale!
“There’s some intriguing things for sale on Flippa, it’s overwhelming just how much opportunity is out there!” Jason.
For now, Laura and Jason are enjoying having just one job, but they’re not ruling anything out – they see another Ecommerce business in their future in some way, shape or form.
“We would either buy on Flippa or sell again on Flippa.”