Silas Capital is making a multimillion dollar bet on Australian wallet start-up Bellroy.
The venture and growth equity firm revealed on Wednesday that it was investing between $3 million and $8 million in the digital-native retailer, famous for its minimalist, slim leather wallets.
“It’s a high-growth, capital-efficient business that’s profitable with a strong brand attached,” Carter Weiss, a partner at Silas Capital, told WWD. “So they actually make money. We like that combination.”
Bellroy, which started small in Melbourne, Australia, back in 2010, now sells on five continents and makes a variety of leather bags and accessories, like key covers, cell phone cases, tablet sleeves and planners, in addition to its hallmark thin wallets. Last year the company had “north of $20 million” in revenues, Weiss said. This year Silas Capital is anticipating that number will be closer to $30 million. The company also has a significant social media following: 150,000 followers on Instagram and more than 12,000 followers on Twitter.
“We’re just really proud of what [Bellroy] built on limited resources,” Weiss said. “When we see that we say to ourselves, ‘What can we add here?’ We can add a real balance sheet, some real capital. They don’t even have a public relations firm in the U.S., for example. Our job is to simply come in and amplify what they’re doing already.”
That includes helping the company clean up its supply chain and grow in size. The U.S. is Bellroy’s largest market, but Bellroy products are sold in more than 100 countries around the globe.
Still, the simple, slim wallets remain the company’s crown jewel. Weiss said Bellroy’s emphasis on its clean design and lightweight products — focusing on both fashion and function — is what makes the brand so popular.
“As opposed to a giant gold logo stamped on the side of a wallet,” he explained. “It’s just a different look and feel.”
Roughly half of Bellroy’s sales come through the company’s own web site, with another 25 percent coming from third-party web sites like Amazon and 25 percent from wholesale partners like Nordstrom, Barneys New York, Patagonia, and John Lewis in the U.K.
Weiss added that Bellroy has done pop-up shops and is considering opening retail locations on a limited basis in the future, but no plans have been finalized.
“Having bootstrapped the business to date, this capital infusion and new partnership will allow us to deliver our products to even more customers around the world,” Andy Fallshaw, Bellroy cofounder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Silas Capital focuses on early-stage consumer start-ups. The firm was an early investor to direct-to-consumer mattress company Casper, as well as linens brand Boll & Branch and cashmere company Naadam.
Weiss said Bellroy was a natural addition to that list.
“Bellroy is doing wonderful work, but they’re not getting credit for it yet,” Weiss said. “They have a great brand that is a well-run business, that is also doing best-in-class work within their resources and their ability. That also shows the character and capability of management.”