March 25, 2023


Best Technology Perfection

How Tocco Toscano’s 2nd-gen owner saved the biz from closure

Tocco Toscano, a homegrown deluxe leather-based merchandise manufacturer, has a loaded heritage. Founded by Joseph Lor’s father in 1987, the brand has appear a prolonged way from its humble beginnings as TOSCANO in Italy.

Joseph’s father initially identified his like for leather craftsmanship when he was necessary to bind leather-based bibles as section of a rehabilitation program in Singapore. He later took on an apprenticeship in a smaller workshop in Florence, Italy and learned the intricate methods of leather-building from a local craftsman named Mr. Stefano.

james lor founder of Tocco Toscano
Joseph’s father James Lor (proper), founder of Tocco Toscano / Impression Credit history: Tocco Toscano

Deeply motivated by the craft, Joseph’s father purchased the licensing legal rights from Mr. Stefano and introduced the brand to Singapore, in which he renamed it to Tocco Toscano and high-quality-tuned the solutions for the Asian sector.

He begun by producing his own leather-based belts and marketed them doorway-to-doorway, finally convincing office merchants to have them, and expanding the merchandise line to contain bags and wallets.

Even so, by 2016, Tocco Toscano was struggling with a significant disaster — the increase of e-commerce and on-line shopping had led to a downtrend in brick-and-mortar enterprises.

As my spouse and children business was mainly positioned in division shops, it little by little grew to become unsustainable and we were being getting rid of out on a considerable part of the shopper sector that had by now moved online for procuring. Other than, there had been a whole lot of standard organization techniques that were being swiftly becoming outdated/obsolete, and my father could no lengthier preserve speed with it.

– Joseph Lor, CEO of Tocco Toscano

The business enterprise was on the brink of closure, and that’s when Joseph made a decision to just take around.

From “the boss’ son” to the manager

joseph lor tocco toscano ceo
Joseph Lor, CEO of Tocco Toscano / Image Credit: @cherylccxx

Joseph, who experienced a background in Math and Science (B.Sc in Biomedical Science and B.Eng in Electrical and Electronics Engineering), had no prior encounter in the leather-based field.

He experienced aided out with the business in locations like income and operations during his teenage a long time and immediately after graduation, but using over the business was a substantial leap.

Joseph was pushed by a deep sense of obligation to the household organization, a fascination for the craft that he grew up with, and a drive to make a distinction. He understood it would be a steep studying curve, but he was up for the problem.

The natural way, I did sense a sense of ownership and felt that it would be a squander if I did not give it a fantastic shot to preserve the business enterprise. … Even if it did fall short in the stop, I could wander away understanding I gave it my ideal.

– Joseph Lor, CEO of Tocco Toscano

Joseph primarily begun from scratch, earning blunders alongside the way. There was a ton for him to discover, making sure that that the diverse elements of the firms are effective and cohesive. Also, he experienced to tackle the challenge of growing the organization on the net.

A different huge problem he faced was earning the respect and have faith in of the staff. A lot of of them seen Joseph as just “the boss’ son” and were being resistant to the modifications he wanted to make. Having said that, as they noticed the results of his attempts, they gradually turned convinced of the viability of his strategies.

Revamping his father’s leather business

One of the vital approaches Joseph established Tocco Toscano aside from other leather-based bag manufacturers was by producing the model more shopper-centric.

Joseph created it a precedence to converse with shoppers and possible customers, collecting their enter and opinions by means of emphasis teams, surveys, and even personal discussions. This solution permitted Tocco Toscano to develop products and solutions that were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also purposeful and adaptable for every day use.

Tocco Toscano's apple leather series
Tocco Toscano’s apple leather-based series / Impression Credit history: Tocco Toscano

In addition to remaining buyer-focused, Tocco Toscano also made an hard work to check out different elements to leather-based, such as upcycled apple squander, canvas, and unique forms of nylon, to generate improved and newer goods.

To rejuvenate the business, Joseph also implemented a number of alterations across the board. The 1st component was to attain a good cashflow.

He analysed previous gross sales to determine which products and solutions sold properly and concentrated on production those goods. He also took in excess of a salesperson role at a person issue of time to reduce manpower fees, and started off listing products on on the net marketplaces like Lazada and Zalora, as very well as launched pre-orders to boost revenue.

In addition, Joseph concentrated on creating new channels, predominantly the brand’s personal internet site. He acquired new customers from a more youthful demographic on the web by making social media web pages and built items that had a increased prospect of undertaking well each on the net and offline.

Previous but not minimum, Joseph rebranded Tocco Toscano to improve buyer perception of the brand name. It established a young and far more relevant illustration of alone with a new brand, model colors and the likes, as effectively as secured collaborations with different models, businesses, and men and women to tap into their purchaser/admirer base.

Tocco Toscano x Singapore Airlines
Tocco Toscano x Singapore Airways / Image Credit score: Tocco Toscano

We have performed a handful of attention-grabbing collaborations not too long ago, these as the upcycling of lifestyle vests and seat belts with Singapore Airlines and launched a limited-edition selection with Hi Kitty in 2022. We are also a Created With Passion brand name, which is an thrilling milestone for us to be discovered among the major local brands.

– Joseph Lor, CEO of Tocco Toscano

The pandemic renewed their target on online product sales

Besides cashflow and elevating the brand perception, the up coming biggest problem for Tocco Toscano was more persons-oriented, specifically selecting the appropriate individuals and handling a workforce perfectly.

Joseph admits that he is not particularly excellent at connection administration, but is striving to be superior at it every working day.

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced about its individual set of troubles for Tocco Toscano. With store closures and a shift in shopper behaviour, the pandemic had a significant impression on their offline channels, top to a drop in product sales. Having said that, the Tocco Toscano staff observed this as an option to focus on other elements of the business, this sort of as rebranding and system.

They started an abroad office environment in Thailand to take care of nearby revenue, together with a performance promoting group to tackle international on the web profits.

We experienced by now started off pushing on line sales prior to COVID-19, which saw first rate advancement when the pandemic struck. These pre-emptive improvements and shifts in the business enterprise definitely gave us an edge in excess of our opponents, who did not seriously right until the pandemic strike.

– Joseph Lor, CEO of Tocco Toscano

Tocco Toscano's Aimee tote
Tocco Toscano’s Aimee tote bag / Impression Credit score: Tocco Toscano

The 1st stage of their online push, the launch of the Aimee tote sequence in 2018, amassed S$1 million in sales in just 11 months.

“After that, matters just kind of worked out. It is genuinely a great deal less difficult when your very first phase is not a misstep — you have much better cashflow which you can leverage, repurpose your current articles for social media adverts, and commence creating an on line existence from the get go. From there, you get extra versatility with anything else.”

Business enterprise revenue increased 15-fold

When Joseph took over the small business, he did not raise any money, relying on the earnings from his facet organization, Faire Collective, to help create and change the business.

Given that Joseph’s takeover, Tocco Toscano broke even right after just one yr and has witnessed impressive development. While actual figures can’t be shared, Joseph unveiled that the brand’s profits has improved 15-fold, expanding from a total yearly profits of S$9,000 in 2018 to above seven figures now.

When it will come to current market expansion, Joseph acknowledges that it is not an straightforward feat, in particular when moving into foreign international locations in which there are language boundaries, absence of connections and awareness in buyer behaviour, and navigating various factors from logistics to promoting.

“Because of this, I typically attempt to develop to foreign marketplaces through licensees and distributors,” mentioned Joseph.

He extra that the most vital variable when looking at growth is to find the correct partner or particular person to oversee functions. If the suitable particular person is in location, he then evaluates the relevance of the item to the industry in terms of type, design, and price level, and last but not least, the believed charges as opposed to the potential upside.

Going ahead, the company’s potential company designs include things like coming into additional offline markets and solidifying its on line existence. Currently, it has its eyes set on developing its existence in Thailand, and ultimately entering the US sector. It also hopes to increase its item offering in Indonesia, starting with eyewear.

As a second-era operator, Joseph takes his father’s information to coronary heart. His father normally valued loyalty, so he taught him to choose treatment of the people today who are both equally loyal and hardworking. As the expressing goes, ‘when you get treatment of your staff members, your persons will just take treatment of your business’.

Now as a seasoned entrepreneur, Joseph much too has suggestions for younger business owners: “never relaxation on your laurels, continually innovate, and constantly seem to find out and improve”. By adhering to these concepts, Tocco Toscano has turn into a prosperous and thriving model, and Joseph hopes that other younger business owners will be motivated to do the exact same.

Featured Picture Credit: Tocco Toscano