Fashion entrepreneurs Bel and Claire believe in sharing the load, environmentally-conscious clothing and, above all, being kind.
How many years have you owned your own business?
Claire: Eight years.
Bel: Three together.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
Claire: We are a team of mums and grandmothers, the majority of us have kids aged five and under so life is hectic. With little ones not yet at school, we all have a day or two working from home and a day or two in store. It works really well being able to rely on each other for support, we share looking after all the kids or covering shifts if kids are sick, etc. I love the fact that we are all in the same boat / sinking ship of growing the business and raising kids, everyone has their days, we are all understanding and flexible.
Bel: To be honest, I wish I could say I had a formula worked out – there are some weeks where it can feel like you’re not 100 per cent achieving one or the other. But I think I am so incredibly fortunate to have a flexible and supportive team around me. We are always continually sharing the load and I think that’s the key to finding a balance.
What’s the best business advice you have been given?
Claire: “Be generous” – I think being kind and generous and giving will always see a business prosper. Additionally, if this ethos is what our business is based on, doing good for the planet and people – we believe it will shine through in all aspects of our business and service.
Bel: “If it doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t” – I’ve always found that this little statement can ground you and simplify tricky situations. We are often overwhelmed by choice, you can certainly get caught up in the moment. It’s important to take a step back and assess if it feels right or not.
What keeps you up at night?
Bel: Instagram – I always end up down these rabbit holes finding beautiful new brands. I love coming across a fresh new brand with an incredible ethos that I feel like we HAVE to introduce to our customers.
Who inspires you and why?
Claire: My customers – why? I believe consumers are becoming more conscious of what they buy, where it’s from and who made it. I’m inspired that customers are making these evaluations before purchasing. Having worked in the production side of fashion, I’m acutely aware of the wastage and related toxic pollution to our environment. Then there is the human factor of unethical working conditions of workers. This inspires and drives me to seek out fashion that won’t cost the earth……. I aim to offer customers kinder choices.
Bel: Our incredible brands – we as consumers are always challenging what’s available, whether it be the cut, colour, fabrication, price – we are becoming more considerate about what we’re purchasing. It’s so incredible when you arrive at a new season viewing and you are so excited about how these brands are continually improving their processes to mitigate environmental impacts. We are noticing so many more brands offering a product that is completely ‘Australian’, it’s exciting and inspiring to see where fashion is heading.
All small businesses have their challenges. What have been some of yours, and how did you girls persevere?
Claire: In the past few years we have faced many challenges, like severe drought, fires, COVID, real estate gazumping and much more. So perseverance is our game, it’s all about keeping your eye on the goal and thinking outside of the box. In COVID times we were doing door-to-door deliveries, making regular, ridiculous reels and opening up new sales channels. Small business is always challenging; it’s about mindset when facing those challenges and learning how to pivot your service to respond.
Bel: The past three years! We’ve all certainly had a fair share of challenges, but we’re still here doing what we love and that’s because we’ve learnt to be resilient. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but when you’re growing a business that means so much to you it’s incredible what innovative, perhaps crazy ideas, you can come up with to create engagement with your customers and ideas on how to diversify your offering.
Where do you envision yourself in five years?
Claire: More or less doing the same thing as I love it, but possibly with a few more stores open.
Bel: I’m so excited to see where our little business will grow in five years. I’d love to be travelling overseas and sourcing some incredible treasures.
location: Inverell, NSW