Ridge CEO Sean Frank likes to throw out nine-figure numbers. He remembers telling his chief marketing officer, Connor MacDonald, that he wanted to grow Ridge wallets to $100 million in revenue. Connor was incredulous.
With strategic growth tactics, however, Ridge eventually did meet that goal. Ridge’s wallet business alone is now doing over $100 million in revenue per year and capturing 1 percent of the global wallet market. This year, Sean is setting his sights on joining the league of accessory giants like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and other fashion and leather goods brands.
“The current roadmap for the company is to just transition it to be a modern American accessories brand,” Sean says, explaining that the business is expanding its product line and international offerings to be more encompassing of the category.
Looking to grow your own direct to consumer brand? Ahead, Sean shares his tips for scaling successfully.
4 growth tips for direct to consumer businesses
Sean ran an ad agency before he joined Ridge as CEO, so his expertise is in ecommerce and marketing. Here is what’s on Sean’s checklist when he’s considering introducing a new product or entering a new geographic region.
1. Go after a growing market
Sean’s first consideration is the growth potential of a new product. “It's way easier to capture a small part of a big growing market,” he says, as opposed to capturing a big part of a slow-growing market.
Ridge used this tactic when expanding into men’s rings. Sean was inspired by his own personal experience of buying a wedding ring. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many men turned to buying online, and jewelry shops weren’t as quick to capture the market.
Ridge jumped on the opportunity to fill that gap. “Rings didn't exist in 2022 for us. And in 2023, they were an eight-figure business.” He expects the ring business to double in revenue in 2024.
2. Factor in logistics
Sean recommends considering the logistics of bringing a product to market before getting into a new category. Something heavy might not be a good candidate to sell online. A country that’s expensive to ship to might not be the first place you should target in your international expansion.
Canada is an example of a big country where shipping costs might eat into your margins. “It is more expensive to ship from Toronto to Vancouver than it is to ship anywhere in the United States,” Sean says. Instead, U.S.-based companies might want to consider expanding to the U.K. or Australia, where the logistics might be cheaper.
3. Price at a healthy margin
Men’s rings were also a good expansion product for Ridge because the margins are high. “I think you used to be able to make DTC work with 60 percent margins,” Sean says. “Now I think you need a minimum of 80 percent margins.” With the rising costs of customer acquisition with Meta and Google ads, you’ll be glad to have a larger cushion.
4. Give customers a localized experience
The old adage of “meet people where they’re at” applies here. If you’re expanding into a new market, consider retail partners that can help you capture demand from in-person shopping.
If you’re building a separate website for another country, use a Shopify app to translate your website. Sean says you can miss a huge portion of shoppers if you don’t give online buyers the option to check out in their native language and currency.To learn more about how Sean grew Ridge to a multiple nine-figure business, listen to his full interview on Shopify Masters.