The wallet you choose to carry around says a lot about you as a person. Some people opt for a high-end, sleek leather bi-fold design, while others stick with their high-school duct-tape and velcro wallet. Regardless of what your wallet looks like on the outside, most people have one common problem: it’s either too bulky or too small to fit your cards.
In 2010, Bellroy founders Andrew Fallshaw and Hadrien Monloup identified this common issue among both businessmen and students and launched their company. The goal was to create a wallet that was both widely available and retained a high-quality design.
By pairing the two, Bellroy took one of the most underrated items people use in their day-to-day life and transformed it into an attractive, fashionable product. “We want to inspire better ways to carry, use business as a force for good, and help the world, and our crew, flourish,” comments Fallshaw in an interview with The Business of Surf.
The popularity of this one Bellroy product led to the eventual launch of other items, such as bags, cases, and even luggage. But the key to their success lies mainly within their community-building strategies …
By catering to a community interested in simple, well-designed carry products that were both affordable and high-quality, here’s how Bellroy became an overwhelming e-commerce success.
Finding a Problem (and Creating a Tangible Solution)
Both being passionate surfers and sportsmen, Fallshaw and Monloup were frustrated with their current wallets. At this time, the advertised “sports wallets” were often too bulky and difficult to transport. But slimmer, higher quality wallets were too expensive and not compatible with outdoor lifestyles.
To solve their dilemma, Fallshaw and Monloup set out to create the every-wallet: one that maintained a sleek, quality design while also being suited to people of all lifestyles. Both Fallshaw and Monloup saw the potential of their product, but the trick was to convince everyone else that this was a great idea.
Building an Online Community In Support of the Product
To help spread the word on their idea, Fallshaw and Monloup created their very own online community, Carryology. This site would allow the founder to connect with ordinary people who experience the same issues with their wallets. With Carryology, prospective customers informed the founders on ways to create better, more well-designed carry items—not just wallets.
From the beginning, the duo knew their idea would receive positive back, but they never expected it to grow as much as it did. Using this incredible online community, Fallshaw and Monloup turned shared ideas into designs for wallets, bags, luggage, and backpacks.
The overwhelming support they received from other people gave the founders an extra boost in confidence to officially start their business.
Designing and Testing Their Product
As the level of community support only continued to grow, Fallshaw and Monloup got to work on the design aspects of their soon-to-be perfect wallet. First, the pair knew there was a demand for a more functional, slimmer wallet.
Most wallets at this time were far too bulky with too many unnecessary sleeves and folds. Fallshaw and Monloup wanted to design a wallet with simplicity and practicality in mind.
After designing one main wallet—the Slim Sleeve—Fallshaw and Monloup’s creations turned into five separate products. In August 2010, Bellroy launched their first line of wallets: the Very Small, Very Protective, Slim Sleeve, Hide & Seek and Take Out wallets—all of which lets customers store and carry their essentials in simple, compact products.
With stop-motion videos of crawling money and backyard fence photography shoots, Fallshaw and Monloup kept their marketing and advertising tactics simple and focused on the products themselves.
Bellroy’s eCommerce site was launched, advertising their newly created products. Fallshaw and Monloup had the advantage of creating a product in a desperately demanding market, so their products quickly caught wind.
Thanks to their already established online presence, Bellroy was only expected to grow. Back in 2010, Bellroy was one of the only company’s to design luxury carry items. No other business had reached such a high status among consumers, so this also gave Fallshaw and Monloup the creative freedom to build and position items according to the precise needs of the people.
In 2011, Bellroy launched an additional campaign called “Slim Your Wallet,” which promoted simple, minimalist carry items. Over the next few years, Bellroy saw massive expansion to International retailers and trade shows, which allowed them to further promote their brand and design items catered to travel and active lifestyles.
Then, just four years after the company’s launch, Fallshaw and Monloup converted a Melbourne chocolate factory into their official work and design space. Inspired by the hub of entrepreneurs and growing businesses around them, Bellroy sought to expand their line of products and began designing phone cases and work accessories, each featuring bold colors and authentic leather materials.
Moving Forward as a Brand …
Over the preceding decade, Bellroy’s products have grown both in popularity and size. Today, the company features more than 60 products—each of which maintains the company’s goal of creating simple, quality, and functional carry items.
As the company continues to reach unprecedented heights, Fallshaw and Monloup still commit themselves to stay on top of trends and monitor where the market’s headed. Since the launch of Bellroy, many other eCommerce brands have hopped on the bandwagon of functional carry items. But Bellroy still maintains its status as the category’s frontrunner.
And with the rise of the sustainability movement, Bellroy continues to use environment-friendly materials and sources without sacrificing the quality and longevity of its products.