How Social Media Took This Streetwear Retailer to New Heights

Brendan Mitchell and his business partners, James Barrett and Jason Paparoulas

Melbourne retailer Up There’s new flagship store and successful eCommerce platform are the culmination of 14 years spent fostering local sneaker and streetwear culture. The key to the business’ growth? Supercharging social media marketing efforts – and Qantas Points – with the help of the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card.

Back in 2010, social media was in its infancy and Australian sneaker culture was relegated to niche corners of the internet, where a dedicated community engaged on forums and blogs about current trends and upcoming releases.

Seeking to build a place for that community to thrive, Brendan Mitchell and his business partners, James Barrett and Jason Paparoulas, stepped out on their own and opened Up There – a streetwear-focused clothing, apparel and accessories boutique in Melbourne.

“At the time there wasn’t really any store like us in Australia,” says Mitchell. “We were already involved in the sneaker community but then we started getting the Up There name into blogs and local media and things really took off.”

Melbourne retailer Up There

Since starting out in its original McKillop Street store with just three founders on staff, the business has boomed. In 2023, they opened a new flagship boutique at the Paris end of Flinders Lane. Stocking the latest in footwear and apparel from the likes of Salomon, Adidas and New Balance, the futuristic underground shop is fitted with countless mirrors, metallic finishes and plush fabrics in bold colours.

“The business has grown to now have 30 employees. We have a successful eCommerce arm, a sports and performance footwear offshoot – Up There Athletics – and have a sizable following on social media, with about 105,000 followers on Instagram,” says Mitchell. “We now invest marketing dollars on social media platforms including TikTok – we differentiate ourselves from our competitors with a unique visual and style lens.”

Melbourne retailer Up There

Manage your cash flow

To manage cash flow effectively, Up There uses the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to fund its marketing efforts on social media, Google ads and Google Shopping. The Card’s no pre-set spending limit1 and up to 51 days to pay for purchases gives the team breathing space when unexpected costs occur.

“The biggest asset of our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is the immediate access to cash flow2. A product will launch and we want to be able to quickly purchase stock. We know that we won’t have any trouble with the Card, as our access to funding grows with our business.”

For Up There, cutting through the market on social media is about authenticity. “TikTok is a new thing, especially for a bunch of guys in their mid thirties. So we’re leaning on staff to create content that is visually authentic to our brand while making sure it's relevant for our community. So then we use the Card to buy props, backdrops for photoshoots, a new lens for the camera and other photography equipment to promote a new product through a unique piece of content on our social media platforms.”

Using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, Up There earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on these everyday business expenses and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services3, which has allowed them to travel overseas for business and keep close ties with big global brands, including Asics and New Balance.

“Last year we had an exclusive collaboration with Asics. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without using the Qantas Points earned through our business to travel. That kind of access is what has set us apart. Using our Qantas Points to fly to Japan, the US or France at least once a year and meet our suppliers face-to-face is everything to us. We also use our points to book accommodation with Qantas Hotels.”

Melbourne retailer Up There

With their 15th anniversary on the horizon in 2025, Mitchell and the team are planning to engage even more with their cohort of sneaker fans, hosting events that bring the online community to the store and working on elevated collaborations with longstanding suppliers and partners.

“The next couple of years are going to be big for us. We’re very keen to celebrate this milestone with the staff and community that have helped us get here.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Unlock the possibilities

Brendan Mitchell shares his top small-business tips for building relationships, streamlining financial reporting and creating a brand.

“Pay your suppliers on time”

Up There is constantly on the lookout for up-and-coming brands that will resonate with its community. The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card helps the retailer do business with smaller operators more readily. “Having up to 51 days to pay for purchases2 comes in handy as some of these suppliers are so small they can’t offer us longer payment terms,” says Mitchell. “There’s no greater way to build relationships with everyone you do business with than paying on time and our Card gives us the flexibility to do that.”

“Stick to your word”

For Mitchell, a commitment to his promises extends beyond his suppliers; fulfilling customer expectations is everything. “During last year’s Boxing Day sales, we had so many orders we were worried they weren’t going to all be picked up by our couriers before the New Year’s break. So myself and the team went to Budget, hired a truck and filled every square centimetre of it before driving it down to the depot ourselves to make sure the packages got out in time.”

Amex Qantas Business Rewards

Amex Qantas Business Rewards

“Stay focused when you’re out on the road”

“When we travel, it’s normally pretty chaotic so anything that can make the experience more comfortable is invaluable,” says Mitchell. “Sometimes it’s as simple as being able to have a real meal and a shower in a Qantas Lounge – which we get access to through with the Card’s two complimentary domestic lounge passes4 – and take a load off for 30 minutes in transit. I make sure I use the Card to get complimentary travel insurance5 – it makes all the difference when you’re travelling.” (T&Cs and exclusions apply, such as maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and cover limits).

“Convenience and customer service helps us do business”

“When you’re running a retail business like ours, you need access to information at your fingertips. Purchases on our Card feed directly into our accounting software6, making it easy to track our spending and see discrepancies along the way, which is super helpful for fraud protection.” says Mitchell. “Then if we ever do need help, I know that American Express’ fraud protection guarantee7 will help us quickly resolve any issues.”

“Trust your management team”

“I think it’s really important to let people get on with their jobs. So we have a number of Employee Cards8 that are given to senior staff and management in order for them to make the essential purchases they need to run their departments. It also helps us earn more Qantas Points for the business, which in turn helps us travel and keep those important relationships with our suppliers.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Click here for Terms and Conditions

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*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 March 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

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