Leadership

The Daily Edited’s Alyce Tran On Building A Business And Feeling The Pressure To Grow

Five years into life with The Daily Edited, the lawyer-turned-entrepreneur opens up about feeling the pressure to always do more.

By Emily Brooks

Leadership

Five years into life with The Daily Edited, the lawyer-turned-entrepreneur opens up about feeling the pressure to always do more.

By Emily Brooks

Co-founder of The Daily Edited, Alyce Tran, remembers once telling her English teacher she wanted to become the editor of Vogue Australia. Today, the life of a female founder appears as glamorous as a magazine editor in the golden age, so Tran’s reality hasn’t fallen too far from her career-goal tree. But it is a reality she has carved out for herself with pure hard work.

“There’s no how,” she said. “I just did it.” Tran, who grew up on a fruit farm in the Adelaide Hills, was working as a lawyer in Sydney when she co-founded The Daily Edited with a former co-worker, Tanya Liu. What began as a lifestyle blog evolved into a personalised accessories line – featuring monogrammable leather goods – that exploded.

If you don’t know The Daily Edited story, it goes a little something like this: Tran worked at the law firm by day, and on The Daily Edited by night. She would store inventory in the firm’s archive room and, at night, she would take product home, monogram, pack orders accompanied with handwritten notes, and return to the office the following morning with a big, blue, IKEA bag full of orders she would post in her lunch break. “It was a really difficult time in my life,” Tran told Brooke Boney in Future Women’s Next Generation Innovators podcast. “But you know what, hardship over, it’s very much a first world problem. I don’t want to even say it was hardship because we’re really lucky it happened, right.” Now, the company – which turned over US$30 million in 2018 – has no debt and employs more than 150 staff.

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation.

 

On Two Jobs, And Just Doing It

“I just did it. There’s no how. If there was a to-do list, I just did the stuff. I didn’t think about things deeply. I still don’t think about things deeply now. You just do it,” Tran said. “I just think if you’re smart, and practical, you really can’t mess things up that much, right? Everyone always asks, ‘Did you have a mentor? And it’s like, ‘No, we were too busy to talk to anyone, we didn’t network.’ We still don’t do that now.”

Managing The Transition From Side-Hustle To Start-Up

“I nearly died in 2014 and 2015. It was a really difficult time in my life,” Tran said. However, within a year of selling the accessories, the accountant was asking what the company was now selling. “He’s like, ‘You’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. What is happening?’ I was so tired, I said to Tanya, ‘We need to quit our jobs, I can’t do this anymore.’ And she’s quite risk averse. Tanya’s probably the best co-founder someone can have because she’s very conservative. So it’s a nice balance. She made us save up nearly one million dollars before we quit our jobs because it then gave us basically more than a year’s runway in case it didn’t work.”

Funding Isn’t Always The Answer

“People overthink things. If you can sell your product, and you’re not holding your inventory, in theory, you have the cash flow to buy your next tranche of product and you’re obviously marking it up, so you’ve got more money to buy into more things. A good business is as simple as that. I don’t think that people went and got funding for every single idea 20 years ago. If you talk to our parents, the idea that you come up with something and you have to go find $2 million for it is quite unusual. Most businesses started in the fashion space, or in consumer goods, the way that TDE has. Because we had the blog and we had the social channels, as soon as we put stuff up, it just self-perpetuated.”

Feeling The Pressure To Constantly Grow

“[Securing funding] is not something that we don’t want to do. It’s about finding the right person to do it with. But we don’t really need to do it. The thing, for me, is if we took that on we would have to explode in the United States. We’d use that money to grow the business overseas and that would change my life fundamentally and I’d have to move there. And it would change the nature of the work that I do. Running a business with someone else is a different level of reporting and governance and do I really want to be doing that for the accolade of having more stores in America?

“I think Australian culture, or business culture, really puts a lot of pressure on people to keep showing that you’re doing stuff and you know, what’s wrong with someone just running a really good business that’s solid, that has solid growth, and is actually just making money? Everyone’s like, ‘When’s your next store? When’s this? When’s that?’ It’s just so much pressure. The strategy of where to go next is probably the most difficult thing. Growing businesses is really easy. Growing business is just hard work. Pushing them past this threshold is a whole other thing.”

Learning How To Manage Staff

“I find that really hard… One of the biggest things that is really difficult is the pressure of growing the business so that everyone develops in their roles. You’ve got someone in your team who is, say, a Global Retail Manager. Where on earth do they go next? You have to open more stores in order for them to actually get a pay rise and increase the scope of their role and that pressure is sometimes too much.”

The Future Of Alyce Tran

“I don’t think that this energy I am giving off to my team is necessarily that positive. It’s not like I walk in there and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I’m under so much pressure.’ I walk in there and I’m a normal person. I would like to remove myself from that office and set up what I call ‘The Office Of Alyce Tran’ where I provide services back to The Daily Edited, to In The Roundhouse, and whatever else I create in the future. And sit and work with, say, a graphic designer, a finance person, a really small team and just churn out all of this stuff for these brands that I will have equity in or not. That’s basically where I see myself going. I think that will happen, like, next year. That’s basically what I want to do. I don’t want to sit with all the inventory anymore.”

Future Women in partnership with THE OUTNET invite you to join us on 19 March in Sydney for a live recording of the Next Generation Innovators podcast. Purchase tickets here. THE OUTNET offers luxury fashion at exceptional prices. Use code FUTUREWOMEN20 to receive 20% off your next clothing purchase at THE OUTNET. T&Cs apply.