Specialty Activewear E-Commerce Company Cadenshae Breaks into Canadian Market

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By Megan Harman

A New-Zealand-based e-commerce brand that specializes in activewear for new moms, called Cadenshae, has expanded into the Canadian market, and strong demand for the company’s niche clothing is driving rapid growth in sales.

Cadenshae, a family-run company founded by wife-and-husband team Nikki and Adam Clarke, sells activewear designed specifically for nursing mothers and expectant moms.

The brand offers a wide selection of bras, tank tops, t-shirts and sweatshirts that allow for easy breastfeeding, thanks to drop-down cups and zippers that open and close. Cadenshae also offers maternity wear such as leggings. The collection includes items that are designed for a wide range of activities, from high impact cardio to yoga, or simply lounging around the house.

 Adam and Nikki Clarke (and family). Photo: Cadenshae 

Adam and Nikki Clarke (and family). Photo: Cadenshae 

“We’ve made things that cover all of the different activities moms would be doing,” Nikki says. “Moms want to be comfortable, they want to be able to breastfeed easily, and they want to look good and feel good.”

All of the merchandise is made from high quality materials, and is designed to last a long time, she adds. “We want to have really good, high quality pieces – staple pieces that you’ll hold onto for a long time and get a lot of use out of them.”

Nikki and Adam, who are parents of three with a fourth child due this spring, were both working as personal trainers when they started their family. Nikki came up with the idea for Cadenshae after having her first child, when she encountered difficulty finding clothes suitable for exercising as well as breastfeeding.

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“I found it impossible to get dressed to go to work everyday,” she says. “Being at the gym and being active myself, there were no clothes on the market that were functional and stylish, as well as being able to breastfeed in them. I figured if I was having this problem, there must be so many other women who are having this problem as well.”

Cadenshae launched its global e-commerce website three years ago, and the company’s products quickly gained popularity – not only in New Zealand and neighbouring Australia, but in markets around the world. Canada was one of the top markets for the products, according to Nikki.

“There’s nothing like it in the market in Canada,” she says. “We found that when Canadian moms got their hands on some of our clothes, they just loved it. They could not rave about it enough. So, we thought we have to make it more accessible to them.”

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Last year, the company established a Canadian warehouse in order to develop a local presence in the Canadian market. That enables Canadian customers to have merchandise shipped from within Canada, resulting in much faster delivery, along with free shipping and free returns. The expansion also created a local customer service presence within Canada – a factor that is central to Cadenshae’s business model.

“Having that on-the-ground contact makes for a much better customer service experience,” Nikki says. Since many customers are new to the brand and may be unsure about how the products fit, having a service team available to answer questions and facilitate exchanges is important, she says.

“We’re a family-run brand, and our customers are everything to us,” she says. “Providing the total Cadenshae experience from start to finish is paramount to us.”

The result of the expansion has been a surge in sales in the Canadian market. “By having it warehoused and having it shipped from within Canada, it’s gone crazy,” Nikki says. “We’re getting so many good reviews, and people are loving it.”

The Clarkes hope to eventually establish a local presence in other global markets, as well. “Our long-term vision is to be available to moms easily worldwide,” Nikki says.

Once the brand has become more established, both in Canada and other parts of the world, the Clarkes hope to establish physical locations that could serve as meeting places for their customers, potentially even with fitness classes and other activities available for customers.

“At some stage in the future, it would be really cool to have a place where moms could go – a place where they could have a cup of coffee, sit and relax,” Nikki says.

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Megan Harman is a business reporter based in Toronto. She writes about topics including retail, financial services and technology. Megan covers Toronto’s retail industry through her blog Retail Realm (torontoretail.wordpress.com). Follow her on Twitter at @meganmharman.

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