Wardrobe Essentials, Startups & The World’s Best Fabrics | Interview With Grana
We recently caught up with Luke Grana, 31 year old Founder and CEO of Grana, a wardrobe essentials brand selling luxury quality basics at affordable prices. Having started and sold five businesses in the past, we spoke to Luke about launching Grana and getting into the fashion industry…
What were you doing before Grana and why the change?
The other businesses I started and sold were too early for the market. I started an online tutoring business before fibre optic cables were mainstream; I started an electric vehicle charging network before enough people owned electric vehicles. With Grana, I had decided to tackle a prevalent problem within an established industry.
A trip to Peru to visit my brother in 2010 really opened my eyes to how great fabrics can really be – Peruvian Pima cotton is amazing in its softness and durability. Before that, I felt that many high street labels were too expensive for what they offered, but I couldn’t place my finger on what it was that was lacking.
I came up with the idea for Grana not long after my trip to Peru, and after that worked at French Connection and Zara to really get a feel for the apparel industry. After six months working on the shop floors, I moved to Hong Kong and began building the business. I secured a contract with DHL, found our first warehouse space, and lined up investor meetings.
It’s both humbling and you feel proud when investors have faith in your business model. Grana has been extraordinarily lucky to have some great investors behind us, including Bluebell Group and Golden Gate Ventures. We’ve raised $2.5 million USD so far and are excited and grateful for all the growth opportunities this capital has allowed us to pursue.
How has living in Hong Kong been for yourself and the business and what are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
Entrepreneurship involves moving well beyond your comfort zone and committing to the unknown. For me, “well beyond” meant leaving my beachside office in Sydney where I was surfing everyday, and moving to a dim, 500-square foot warehouse in the Western District of Hong Kong. Since then, Growing our team to over 20 members within a year has necessitated our move to a 5,000-square foot space in Wong Chuk Hang. Our team is young and passionate and incredible at what they do.
Our journey in Hong Kong over the last year is proof that to be a global fashion business these days is not only about solid design, but also about building an efficient and cost-effective logistics strategy. Whether you’re in the business of fast or slow fashion, speed is crucial to conquering the global market – and being headquartered in the right place ensures that your business is global from day one.
That said, I do miss living in Manly. I plan to catch a few waves when I’m back in Australia for the launch of our pop-up in October.
Describe a day in the life of Luke Grana…
Fundraising and hiring are a big part of any founder’s job. It’s your job to keep the ship running and staffed with the right people who will carry on the culture.
So most of my day is spent in meetings – with investors, with job candidates, and making sure that we have the right people and the right tools and resources needed to grow.
Having travelled the world for the best materials, do you have a personal favourite?
That’s going to have to be the Peruvian Pima. I have a special fondness for it since it’s the first fabric I came across – the one that launched the idea for Grana.
What is a Grana Box?
The Grana Box is a bright blue box that customers receive after their purchase – it has all their purchased items in it and comes with wrapping paper and fabric cards that tell you about the origin of the different fabrics our products are made from. It’s one of the main ways our customers experience our brand – especially since most may not live in a city where we have a pop-up store or permanent showroom. We take extra care to make sure that our Grana Box surprises and delights.
What would you like to achieve with Grana over the next 10 years?
Let’s put it this way… we want other startups to be “the Grana of _____!”
Any advice for gents looking to kickstart their own business?
Learn how to pitch, and be comfortable and confident with public speaking. Being able to sell your idea in a clear and compelling way is so important. It’s what gets you your initial investment, lines up marketing partners, and convinces your first employees to join you. You don’t always need to be the loudest to get your ideas across, but if you are clear, thorough, and steadfast in communicating your vision, your passion will naturally come through.
And be prepared to make sacrifices. Sometimes this means giving up things you really love doing in order to make an impact in the world. Being an entrepreneur is nothing like being an employee – so you have to be very honest with yourself, and take calculated risks.