another publication by IMAGE asia

Ben Gale

Owner, 69SLAM

When did you set up the business? And why?
69 Slam opened its first shop in September this year. Having a Thai wife, Boo, and being a previous resident and regular visitor of Phuket, it was always in the back of my mind to return one day. The 69 Slam brand is famous in Bali with over 10 shops. On a recent trip to Phuket I was surprised they did not have a presence in Phuket despite being in over 27 countries.

What were you doing / where were you living & working before?
In 2011 we spent four months sailing our boat from Cairns, Australia to Bali where we've been living for the last two years. Work-wise we've had a rather diverse experience, including a pearl farm in the far north of Queensland (loss-making), A walk-through bird aviary tourist attraction (profitable), various properties (losing and making money on these). It's certainly been a bouncy ride.

Where are you from?
I'm originally from Cairns Australia. My wife and partner is a local Phuketian.

What’s special / different about 69SLAM?
What are its unique points? Most of the large beachwear companies employ fashion consultants to advise them on what's going to be the next trend and often all go to the same conferences and get the same information. Consequently their products are homogenous and conservative. The 69slam designers go out of their way to ignore what these so-called gurus are saying and design unique, vibrant, sometimes in-your-face and occasionally controversial, but never boring designs.

What's your role in the business?
Boo and I are the big kahunas over a massive staff of 4!

What are the main challenges as they relate to your role?
Creating brand awareness initially, but apart from that the same as any small business: cash flow, staff issues, inventory control and the like.

…and what are the biggest difficulties you have to overcome?
Packing up our life in Beautiful Bali and transporting it over to beautiful Phuket.

What's your main target market?
Boys, girls, men and women under 35 is the core market, but really anyone who wants to wear fun, comfortable beach wear.

Marketing is obviously an important part of every business – what's your approach?
Creating brand awareness is the first big step – through advertising in publications like Window magazine, social media etc – and creating a loyal following.

What do you like most about what you do now?
The brand is fun, we always enjoy starting new projects and there's that constant nervous excitement wondering how successful the venture will be.

And what do you like least…?
Driving over the Patong Hill on a regular basis in traffic.

What do you (and the business) hope to achieve within the next 3-5 years?
If Bali has 10 successful shops and Phuket has a similar tourist profile then we hope to have at least four outlets here, plus some wholesaling through the rest of Thailand.

What do you see as your biggest successes to date?
Pulling the venture off in six months from the time we had the idea

To what extent does the current global financial mess affect your business?
Phuket seems to be bouncing back albeit with a different mix of nationalities. Russians love the brand and are one of our biggest customer groups.

Is 69SLAM involved in any CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programmers?
When I lived in Phuket in 2006,
I was an active member of the Patong Rotary Club and I will certainly be contacting them when the dust settles

What tools (if any) do you use to schedule your time?
I am a big fan of Google Calendar and a simple 'to-do' list.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I'm a great delegator.

What's your over-riding ambition at this stage in your life?
Educating my kids, growing our businesses and giving more to the less fortunate than ourselves. If I achieve a modicum of success in this, then buy a bigger boat and keep sailing west!

For Further information about 69SLAM
+66 76 346 181