I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been surrounded by entrepreneurially-minded people, including my parents, who started their own business and never regretted it. I think I have always had that drive, but it just came down to timing and things shifting in my personal life that gave me that final push to take the plunge. When my youngest was starting prep, it was a catalyst for me to reflect on what I wanted to achieve with my career. I realised I wanted to find a way to continue to evolve and grow in the professional sense, but on my own terms.
What were some of the interesting insights or lessons you learnt from Mercedes that you’ve been able to bring into your new business?
The power of working for such a large company and such an influential brand is that it exposes you to the best strategic thinking and forces you to level up constantly. My managing director at Mercedes was very focused on being agile in our thinking, always re-evaluating how we could be different in how we communicated the product.
When I created Uniek, I knew there was a gap in the market for luxury, locally-made loungewear that resonated with women like me, but we needed to stand out with how we communicated the brand’s message. Of course, working for Mercedes instills a passion and understanding of excellence and quality which I have carried with me into Uniek, with the intention of creating clothes that look and feel absolutely beautiful.
You launched Uniek with the aim to shine a light on older women who are normally overlooked by other retailers. Why is that important to you and how have you done this?
Over the last few years, as I have moved into my 40s, I have felt excluded in the way in which brands would promote and communicate their offering. I think as we get older, our sense of style or taste may change slightly but we still want to feel represented by the fashion world the way women in their 20s and 30s do.
It was important to me that we have inclusivity and diversity at the heart of Uniek’s communication. This is something I am very passionate about and it will be always part of how we connect and communicate as a brand.
What are some of the things that you’ve learnt about yourself since launching your own business?
You need to be across all areas of your business at all times. In the corporate world, it’s easier to switch off from certain aspects of the company or business you work for, whether that’s when you finish for the day or because you’re surrounded by others who are working towards the same end-goal. When you run your own business, the buck stops with you. You need to be on top of everything and surround yourself with people who have your back.
Loungewear is quite a crowded market at the moment, what made you decide to launch a business in that category?
I felt there was a gap when it came to timeless design matched with values. It was imperative to me to manufacture locally here in Melbourne, using only sustainable, 100 per cent organic Global Organic Textile Standard-certified cotton. I know that women like me, who are juggling family, work and everything else, want something they can reach to time and again that is elevated, simple, aligns with their values, and can work across their wardrobe. Last year really sped up the blurring of the lines between our various daily roles and I believe there is a need to cater to that woman who needs to know she has an effortless capsule wardrobe of comfortable separates.
Who are your retail business heroes and why?
I think Go-To is a phenomenal business story. The way Zoe Foster-Blake and her team has branded and communicated the offering is amazing.
Staying in the beauty realm, Jo Horgan at Mecca is long-time hero of mine. I have shopped at Mecca since my early 20s and have always loved the experience. Mecca has continued to evolve the brand and the customer experience as the market has changed around them to ensure they are always at the forefront. I find it very inspirational as a business owner.
What are some of the new skills and knowledge that retail marketers need these days to be successful?
There’s no denying the level of understanding you need within the digital world, but it’s more important to have a fantastic sense of the bigger picture of your customer’s journey. I feel as the world has evolved and we have seen more digital-driven speciality marketers, the approach can feel quite narrow. Remember what each touch point is so that you can ensure consistency of message for the most accurate and resonant representation.
Retail consumers have so many options and ways to shop these days. Keep it simple. Be consistent and ensure your customer always comes first.