Three seemingly unrelated things happened to UK-born, Sydney-based Anna Whiteside, which led to her launching her own uber-cool sports accessories brand, UNIT NINE 9.
"Firstly, I was trying to find a yoga towel to buy and all I could find were hideously expensive drab coloured towels that I did not love," Anna recalls. "Then, at yoga one night I became super irritated (not ideal in a yoga class) with my new yoga mat, which had an exceptionally strong rubber smell. I left the class super annoyed and very un-zen like. And finally, I was doing one-on-one sessions with a boxing trainer and all I could find were gloves with huge brand logos slapped all over them, and I mean everywhere…. not my style at all!"
Ultimately, Anna says, UNIT NINE 9 came about as she couldn't find what she was looking to buy. So she decided to focus on producing her own range of (non-smelly) yoga mats and (well designed) boxing gloves to start with, but she soon expanded to include a range of gym gear and luxe beach products. After launching successfully in Australia, Anna and her team then went on to launch their range into the European market in 2019.
We love the sleek branding, en-point marketing and creative content from UNIT NINE 9, and we absolutely love Anna's drive and energy. She seemed the perfect person to quiz about her start-up experiences!
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up life?
"I'd have to say balancing a demanding full-time job and UNIT NINE 9 has been a huge challenge, as well as keeping training, still having some sort of a social life, and staying sane... but let's be honest I was never sane!"
What are you most proud of when it comes to UNIT NINE 9?
"Creating and building a brand with zero experience and being willing to just give it a go! There have been so many amazing moments such being in some of my favourite’s magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and Women’s Health, and having celebrities using our products."
What advice do you have for start-up founders in the wellness field?
"Resilience is key because it takes a lot of grit and determination to start your own business, it is not all unicorns and rainbows! And financial acumen... if you don't understand your financials intimately from the start, you can't make the best business decisions.
Plus, you need to listen to your customers and keep asking for feedback. What do your customers want and need? Don't worry or get too caught up in what competitors are doing, just focus on creating the best possible product/experience aligned with your customers’ needs. Lastly, just keep going!"
When it comes to social media, what have you found most effective?
"Consistency is key. Consistency on what and when you post on your social media channels. Consistency on how interactive you are and consistency when it comes to great imagery. Oh and keep it fun; don't over think it too much."
What are some podcasts, insta accounts or people that you follow for ideas and motivation?
"I am obsessed with How I built this by Guy Raz, so many inspiring stories from founders themselves from all around the world. I also follow new gym and training concepts in the UK and the US like Jab in London."