By the Numbers
Savings on landed costs
Growth over four years
Vitruvi is on a mission to help people from all walks of life incorporate the benefits of essential oils into their lives.
Faced with long production timelines and surging orders, Vitruvi needed a working capital partner that could help them realign their supply chain. Partnering with Flexport Capital, Vitruvi was able to deliver on a tight deadline and drive significant growth.
Vitruvi was founded to maximize the underutilized potential of essential oils. Founded in 2014 by brother and sister duo Sara and Sean Panton, Vitruvi creates essential oil products designed to elevate beauty, body, and home routines to help people live more naturally. Vitruvi’s sophisticated products turn daily activities into simple moments of wellness that relax, rejuvenate, and inspire.
Boasting a 900% growth rate over four years, Vitruvi has transformed from a small Vancouver Island-based business to an established international brand. While the company encountered some challenges of scaling production, Sara and Sean were able to work through them with Flexport’s partnership and realize the full potential of their supply chain to help grow their business.
In addition to the company’s line of essential oils, Vitruvi’s flagship product is a stone and ceramic diffuser designed to disperse scents throughout home or work environments. The high-end diffuser put Vitruvi on the map, but getting the units produced and shipped presented very real and pressing supply chain issues, especially as the products grew in popularity.
“We started outsourcing our diffusers from a manufacturer in Taipei’s Yingge District in Taiwan. The region is known for its high-quality ceramics, and our units were being handcrafted and hand-painted, but we were constantly faced with slow production times, quality control issues, and our factory’s limited capacity,” explains Sean. “I had to travel to Taiwan once a quarter to check in on operations, which took time away from helping grow the business as a whole. Our costs were extremely high, and we couldn’t get and sell products fast enough to offset those expenses.”
As word of Vitruvi’s products began to spread — leading to high-profile features in Forbes, Vogue, and beyond — the company started feeling the pressure of its supply chain challenges, resulting in production and shipping bottlenecks. Long production lead times meant significant delays getting its sought-after diffusers from Taiwan to customers, so Vitruvi had to rely on air freight — at a premium.
“It’s hard to think of growth as a bad thing, but we were in a tough spot,” notes Sean. “Customer demand was exploding, we had a growing waitlist that we couldn’t get ahead of, our per-unit shipping costs were high, and the 2017 holiday season was right around the corner. It was a make-or-break situation for our business, and we knew our production and shipping processes had to change.”
With so much working capital tied up in manufacturing and shipping, and a new manufacturer needed as quickly as possible to allow for more reasonable production timelines, Vitruvi faced a key decision — to seek help from a traditional lender or potentially dilute its equity by pursuing a funding round. Fortunately, that was just about the time it was introduced to Flexport.
Flexport’s data-enabled freight forwarding solutions presented the opportunity to work out Vitruvi’s supply chain snags by allowing for more predictable shipping schedules, but that was just the beginning. Flexport’s flexible trade financing solution, Flexport Capital, gave the company simple, quick access to the funding necessary to realign its manufacturing processes. More specifically, Flexport Capital helped Vitruvi fund the deposit on a new production facility and opened doors for more cost-effective, reliable manufacturing and shipping.
“We realized pretty quickly that working with traditional banks wasn’t really an option because our business was so young. We also needed a more flexible option that could account for our fast pace,” says Sean. “Working with Flexport Capital, we secured the funds we needed to move production facilities within a week and a half while coordinating our first shipment.”
As a result, Flexport Capital helped Vitruvi completely realign its supply chain, which delivered several key returns. Most notably, shipping costs dropped from $15/unit via air to $0.33/unit via ocean, saving more than $50,000 on landed costs. Better yet, Vitruvi was able to ramp up shipments in time for the holiday rush. Every order was filled in time for Black Friday.
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