Daen Brown - National Sales Manager at Insight

When did you get your first surfboard?
When I was 3, old single fin of dads.

Have you been surfing since then?
I’ve been Surfing consistently since then. I made it more of a life choice when I was about 9 or 10. We did a lot of traveling around depending on where my dad worked. We lived in Papua New Guinea and a few different places.

Do you have a most memorable session/ wave?
Up on the Gold Coast back in 96’ at Currumbin Alley. It was the best I’ve ever seen it, just top to bottom barrels, it was one of those magic days.

Favourite surf spot?
Any left. Growing up on the Gold Coast I’m goofy and sick of rights, I just want to go left. But favorite spot, Probably G land.

Go to board?
6’0 Chilli Toucan. The thing has been amazing, absolutely loving it.

Favorite surf travel destination?
I like the obscure places like Japan, I lived there for 6 months and just love the place. Growing up in QLD you get used to the warm water and the tropical sessions so its kind of nice doing something a bit different. I’m not big on cold water though, bit of a sook like that.

What education do you have?
I finished High School and went straight into the Surf industry. I did work experience with Quiksilver in grade 10 and I basically just wanted to be in the surf industry so I went straight into working with Brothers Neilsen while I was at school and stayed there when I finished. Then 3 or 4 years out of High school I got approached by Rusty, so I went and worked for their agency for 8 years and did a lot of Business and management training while I was there but besides that everything has just been pretty much self taught and industry learnt.

What is your current job?
My main focus is on my job at Insight as their national Sales manager. I manage their national team of agents and work day to day with guys like our design team on their plans, on our merchandise plans, cost and pricing plans, marketing, also helping my agents deal with majors and ensuring sell through and product support etc I’m kind of across everything that’s going on within the business. So that’s my 9-5.

Extra curricular to that I started a premium leather goods brand with a friend of mine Mitch Roberts about 2 years ago called Atlas Lifestyle Co. We just tried to market it really organically through a website and it’s had a really good response. We’re currently looking to reinvigorate the brand with some new investors and product due for launch at the back end of the year. We did a collaboration with the boys at What Youth who obviously are a highly successful in their own right which went well, so it’s going from strength to strength. My wife Carly runs the day to day of that while myself and Mitch work on designs.
I’ve also started up a wholesale fashion agency up in QLD called The Selvedge Yard Agencies of which I’m a director and my business partner Josh Hancock is the face of the operation. I work more so with the back end in terms of business plans and cash flow projections etc. It’s designed to be a Gold Coast based business with a national reach so we take on a number of brands and work with them on a both state and national level. We aim to cater more for that evolutionary customer who doesn’t necessarily want to wear surf branded products. Our office is a modular creative space that we also run art shows, events and brand out of.

And Vacancy store?
Yeah, so my old office with Insight used to be in the old Burleigh Theatre Arcade, there were a lot of vacant stores in there at the time so the name is a bit tongue in cheek. We signed a short-term lease with the initial plan of a pop up concept in the arcade to kind of re-invigorate retail in the area. So we did a pop up store with Insight, Rusty and Rhythm and also Vacancy who the Selvedge Yard part own with my cousin who is the founder and owner of Valley eyewear. There was an opportunity for us to just have a little pop up over the summer to see how things went and we were both releasing our brands at the same time Atlas, and Valley so it was a chance for us to showcase our brands in our own medium. It caught on and had some good response and local support so we signed on for a longer lease. It’s a pretty self-sufficient store but it’s a good opportunity to test retail and see how the market reacts to different products.

What do you like most about job?
I like the diversity. I Love sales and the interactions with people, I’m not a 9-5 desk job person, I like personal interaction. I love being part of the creative process with others even if I’m not a designer, I love being involved in it all and seeing the end result and seeing it on peoples backs and in stores and getting feedback. With the combination of everything I’m doing I’m probably getting my fix across all the different types of medium. I get to create really cool stuff with Atlas, I get involvement and a retail perspective through Vacancy, I get to work in a diverse agency with Selvedge yard and then I get to be completely hands on and involved in the development of a super cool and relevant label in the market that is Insight. I get the best of all of it and then at the end of the day I get to go surfing too 

Where do you see your career going in the future?
My current focus with Insight is on the domestic market but I’d like to work towards involvement within international operations. In terms of the long run with all the businesses, we’ll work on an organic domestic growth plan for Atlas and start to canvas international markets, board now, possibly open up some more stores with Vacancy and as it grows definitely hire more staff within The Selvedge Yard to help support Josh and make it a truly national agency / distributor over the next couple of years.

Who/ what are your inspirations for what you do?
From the early days I was inspired to get into the Surf industry because of my uncle James Crawley who used to be a designer for Quiksilver who was an agent turned accessory designer. That fuelled my desire to work in the surf industry because I got a taste of that lifestyle and thought, well it couldn’t really get any better than this. A job that involves being around surfing, talking surfing and selling surf stuff. In regards to the stepping stone into my career I would need to credit my employer at Rusty Stephen Walgers. He was the first agent I worked with and obviously taught me a lot and gave me the opportunity to step out of retail and into the wholesale sector. Things are very different now, I’m not 15 anymore, I’m going on 35 and the market has changed a lot since I first started. It’s now a matter of researching, and morphing yourself to be relevant or at least understanding of what the consumer wants.

Where can we find you online?








Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on August 30, 2013
Categories: Interviews