In the wake of The 5TH announcing its expansion into the category of small leather goods, we spoke to founder and director, Alex McBride about what makes The 5TH so unique.  

What is the etho behind The 5TH / Where did it all begin?

The 5TH was born in 2014 following a phone call I had with a friend discussing an idea. The idea was (and still is) to connect and cultivate collaboration between talented people from every corner of the globe. The creative doers of this world. And what better way to connect them than via the one thing we all share: time.

This is why we started making watches. Functional, physical reminders to make the most of every moment. The result was what we hoped for but never dreamed could happen so fast. And that’s all thanks to the amazing support of our fans, connectors, and collaborators; you.

We’ve since realised that our offering isn’t just limited to watches, and focusing on our ability to design and manufacture luxury products at prices anyone can afford, we’ve since released: ‘Sunglasses’, ‘Bags’, and ‘Small Leather Goods’.

How did you start The 5TH?

I started out working in property development, but I always knew I wanted to collaborate with designers and creatives. So I started a design blog on the side of renovating houses. I was at point in my life where I felt a bit uncomfortable with the position I was in, and creating my blog was an answer to that. It fed my passion of showing people the value that design brings, but I wanted more from the blog.

I had hoped to start selling things off it to support local designers and the work they do. So I met with a friend (now my business partner for The 5TH) and we started working together. She appreciated my vision, and I appreciated her ability as a successful entrepreneur. Things worked, things didn’t work, but we kept going.

There’s a variety of factors but it’s about keeping as many things in momentum as possible. You’re always dealing with people in different time zones, and multitasking several jobs at once so you’ve gotta be on the ball, all the time.

What’s a typical day at The 5TH look like?

Usually my day is full of meetings and actioning ideas. Sometimes there’s a photoshoot or collaboration project with an influencer. At the moment we’re getting the new office ready which is keeping me super busy, but I’m basically a professional email responder!

In order to keep focus on important tasks I’ve recently introduced a new technique; called the ‘pomodoro technique’. Yes, that is tomato in Italian. The technique is based on the old tomato kitchen timers. I break tasks down into 25 minute slots, and for that 25 minutes I don’t do anything else except the tasks I am meant to be doing. In this day of age where there is distractions coming from all different devices, it’s important to find time to focus.  

Who, or what would you say is at the heart of The 5TH?

People. This is a people business. We design and create products for our customers. But to do that, we need a team of people who are motivated and inspired by the products they’re creating too.  

Who are your customers and why are they special?

That’s an interesting question. At the end of the day, we are only successful if we can provide our customers products and experiences that they want. So really everything we do has the customer in mind; from improving response times to customer questions, improving our operations to get to customers faster, or designing great products that help them get more out of every day.

How do you connect with your customers?

We are a business that was born inside the matrix of Instagram, so we’ve also been a social media focused business. But what really gets us excited is meeting our customers in person. We’ve done a range of things where we’ve been fortunate enough to connect with our audience. This has included parties and events, pop-up stores in Melbourne and New York, etc.

How do you differentiate yourself from competitors?

We are a direct to consumer brand, which means we design, manufacture, and ship directly to our consumers. This way of doing business allows us to keep our products at a price anyone can afford By selling direct to our consumers we don’t have allow for the retail mark-ups that other brands do and we can offer products at a fraction of the price.

We love to push boundaries with what we do and what we offer our audience and this is why on the 5th of every month we launch a new limited edition product and/or collaboration. The product is launched through our ‘LTD Store’, which is exclusively available to 5TH VIP members only. These products usually sell out really fast!

What would you say has been your proudest achievement at The 5TH to date?

I could say some big sales days that we’ve had etc but for us it’s not really about that, we know we’re doing a good job when products sell out quickly; even the fact that we’ve got hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide amazes me. To have people shopping with us everyday makes me extremely proud of what we do.

What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

‘Turn negatives into positives.’ This is at the heart of good business I believe. Problems will always come up in business but it is what we do with those problems that defines good business or bad business.

When we launched we sold out in 1 day, which presented huge problems because we hadn’t placed another stock order and it took two months to manufacture. We turned that problem into a solution and just pre-sold on the same day we released the following month, the same thing happened and we continued the model again for the following month. This model was entirely new, but it helped build anticipation for our products and our releases, which drove the business’s success.

And finally, what is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to start a business based on everything you have learnt?

My advice is – if you ever feel complacent, just keep things in motion. The more you are moving in a direction, whatever that is, the more things happen. The 5TH is more than a dream come true for me. What was the defining factor that made it all happen? I just kept pushing myself to do more.There’s an element of taking risks and hard work of course, but you need confidence in taking opportunities, and you’ll see they just present themselves.

If you can live with the worst case scenario, then the risk is good enough to take.

And some quick questions to finish off…

What do you love most about what you do?

I have total control of my life and what I do, which is something I’m very grateful of.

What’s one thing that always makes you happy?

When I’m pushing my own boundaries. If I’m not pushing myself to the limits I feel complacent and uncomfortable. This goes for business as well as personal life; it might be learning a new skill or pushing a creative idea, or surfing a bigger wave, whatever it is I love the feeling of pushing myself.

What’s your rule of thumb when it comes to inspiring your team?

I’ve just got to focus on what I do best. I often communicate to my team that all I want is to be surrounded by people who inspire me and the way they can do that is by doing their job to the best of their ability. The same goes for me, I need to do my job to the best of my ability.

Best advice you can give someone who wants to get into your area of work?

Just start.

What do you think is the most common mistake that people make when starting a business?

Not identifying their own ‘why’. If this isn’t clear the business will not succeed; it will be the same as every other business out there and not unique.

What’s one thing you wish you’d done sooner?

Interesting question. And really hard to answer. There is many different business lessons I have learnt along the way, which I sometimes think I could turn back time on, but then I realise I wouldn’t have yet understood the lesson. So it’s really about being able to roll with the ups and downs of it all and continue to give it your best.

Another business / start- up I like is ….

Aime Leon Dore – the consistency they have is amazing. And they design really cool stuff.

What’s your mantra?

Time is what we make it.

What’s your pet hate?

Laziness.

Who inspires you?

Passionate individuals.

Last awesome book read?

Good to great – Jim Collins.

Favourite quote?

‘Screw it – let’s do it’ – Richard Branson.

Whenever we think we are pushing things too far with a create concept or idea, we know we’re on the right track. Richard Branson sum’s it up with ‘screw it, let’s do it’, which is the title to a biography of his I recently read.

Are you a dog or a cat person?

Dog (big dog).  

The 5TH

Shop the small leather goods range now, offering something for everyone. The new collection is comprised of card wallets, bifold wallets, pouches, 13-inch and 15-inch laptop sleeves with all these products available in either Black or Blush Pink Italian leather. Be sure to check out the entire range  via The 5TH website and socials.

Plus be quick to grab July’s limited edition launch, ‘The London Range‘, which has returned in 6 different colours due to popular demand with over 2,000 customers voting to bring the style back!

@the5th @alex.j.mcbride 

www.pinterest.com/the_5th/  

www.facebook.com/the5thco

A Day In The Life of The 5TH
A Day In The Life of The 5TH
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In the wake of The 5TH announcing its expansion into the category of small leather goods, we spoke to founder and director, Alex McBride about what makes The 5TH so unique.  
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