The rise and rise of Canberra company ONTHEGO continues, with it signing a big deal with retail giant Kmart to produce a range of personalised gifts for Christmas.
ONTHEGO chief executive Mick Spencer said Kmart customers would be able to create and design their own Christmas gifts, including socks, T-shirts, Santa sacks and Christmas stockings.
"So I could put my face on a pair of socks for my wife or I could put my dog's face on its own Christmas stocking so it doesn't get confused with the cat's," an ebullient Mr Spencer said on Thursday.
Other examples he gave were a T-shirt with a message such as "Kennedy Family Christmas" on it, or a T-shirt with a picture of yourself in a Santa or elf hat.
Mr Spencer said people wanted the chance to put their own stamp on a gift, whether it was their name, face, or "their personal colour or message".
He said the Christmas campaign was likely just the start of the partnership with Kmart.
"We're expecting to do around 40,000 to 50,000 units with this program," he said, adding that personalised items such as pillow cases and beach towels were on the cards for the future.
ONTHEGO usually does large orders of uniforms, customised apparel and merchandise, but the Kmart deal means it can now cater to a single order from a single customer at any one time.
Mr Spencer said that had been achieved not least by the company buying its own factory in western Sydney, and his team in Canberra continuing to fine-tune its software to achieve efficiencies.
That meant a big leap forward in what the company could deliver. Previously, an order might have to be at least 20 to 50 items, and would take six to eight weeks to deliver. Now ONTHEGO can deliver one item - a single pair of customised socks to the one customer - in less than two weeks. And that will be the case with the Kmart orders.
"It's super cool," Mr Spencer said of the deal.
Mr Spencer, 29, started ONTHEGO in his parents' garage in O'Connor in 2012.
The business has grown fast. Three years ago, Mr Spencer famously convinced three "sharks" on the TV show Shark Tank to invest $600,000 in the company. While the deal never passed due diligence, ONTHEGO didn't need the leg-up in any case.
Mr Spencer said the deal with Kmart began only six months ago when he sat down with Kmart executives, including its director of retail Australia and New Zealand, John Gualtieri.
Mr Gualtieri made his excitement about the deal known in a message to Mr Spencer on LinkedIn this week as the Christmas gift campaign launched on Kmart websites:
"Well done Mick and team. From concept to reality in record time. Our customers will absolutely love our new personalisation offer," he wrote.
Mr Spencer said it was a tight turnaround, but hard work had made it a reality.
"When we first started talking about the customised gift market, the natural first step was Christmas, and at the time there was a little bit of 'Oh, my god, that's not too far away'," he said.
The former Daramalan College student has seen his company grow steadily over the past 12 months since Workwear Group, a business of Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, bought into ONTHEGO.
It now boasts almost 40 employees in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
"In a time where customers have a lot of choice, retailers must be nimble and innovative in their customer offering, ensuring customers come back to their website or stores. Customisation has proven the market that builds more brand loyalty," Mr Spencer said.
And it also gets your face on a pair of socks for Christmas.