Dynamic Duo: “We did compete. Now we create.”

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Starting off as competitors who both owned independent women’s fashion businesses, Alexia Spalding and Sophie Toohey joined forces three years ago to create Good Day Girl, an Australian made to order women’s fashion business. The made to order fashion brand offers customers seasonal capsule collections with styling know-how and advice. The duo cover the entire experience from seasonal design to marketing, selling, manufacturing and delivery, focussing on helping customers feel comfortable and confident with a personalised and unique shopping experience. Together they discuss how they went from competitors to business partners:

1. It’s all about finding a shared passion
Sophie: Alexia and I were competitors, a mutual friend introduced us and we realised we shared a lot of the same business woes as well as philosophies. One of those philosophies (and woes) was trying to create a business that was not contributing to the great unspoken problem in the fashion industry, overproduction and stockpiles of clothing with nowhere to go. We had been discussing how hard it was to always have the right stock for clients, sizes in particular. We weren’t mass producers so our limited production runs meant that it was very hit and miss so we thought ‘imagine letting the clients tell us what they want, we could satisfy each and every client as well as run a business that is sustainable on an economic and environmental standpoint.’
Alexia: The traditional retail model involves guessing what customers want and inevitably disappointing them when they go shopping and find you’ve run out of their size or the colour they wanted. We were looking for a way to offer our customers better service, more choice, personal attention and also address the huge issue of waste in our industry. Fashion is the second biggest polluter after the oil industry.

good-day-girl-pins2. It’s about addressing current issues in the industry
Sophie: If there is one thing we have truly and sadly learnt, it is that no one is happy with their bodies, we all have something that we are not keen on and we are all too hard on ourselves. The Trunk Show environment is a safe haven, it’s one-on-one appointments, the client has it totally to themselves and even though they may walk in for the first time a bit hesitant, when they realise we are approachable and only wanting to make them look good, they get into it.
Alexia: We are bombarded by messages regarding the latest look, what’s in, what’s out, and what are often unachievable looks. It’s confusing; how can we know what will suit us and where to find it? At Good Day Girl we listen to what our customer wants and needs, we talk about their lifestyle and what they already have in their wardrobe. We then show them through the collection and try on different looks that might suit them.

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3. It’s about working with great people and partners
Sophie: We do work with amazing people who help us with pattern making as well as manufacturers who make everything locally for us.
Alexia: We have a fabulous group of girls that work with us part time from pattern making, to fittings, modelling in our shows, assisting with our events, production quality control, packing orders etc. We also work with personal stylists who introduce our collection to their clients.

4. It’s about learning new skills and building experience
Sophie: I entered the fashion industry through the side door. I had a communications degree and had worked in various consumer related businesses. I had moved back from New York and started as publicist for Australian designer, Traudl Troska of Von Troska. I saw how the business worked and fell in love with it. From there I did a couple of small business and design courses to learn some basics and then after a couple of years started a shirting label, Mr. Rose. This was my biggest education, seven years of working like a crazy woman and ending up with a bag full of debt, lots of pretty clothes and a lot of hard learnings. I am using those learnings to move with a more assured foot and greater awareness with Alexia in Good Day Girl.

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5. It’s about finding a positive and ethical approach
Alexia: Creating an ethical and sustainable business was fundamental to the launch of Good Day Girl.
Sophie: We also wanted to produce locally in Sydney, so for us it’s about supporting local industry and making only what is needed. Being accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia means we know our makers are being paid fairly and are working in good conditions. This should be a given, but unfortunately with the industry it’s not.

6. It’s about supporting each other
Alexia: Since launching Good Day Girl three years ago we have been through a lot of personal ups and downs and have always supported each other with care and understanding. We both like to have fun and see the lighter side of life, there are a lot of laughs and when things get difficult we focus on finding a solution. There is an enormous amount of respect between us and I think we both appreciate what the other brings to the business.

7. It’s about having a clear goal and working hard to achieve it
Alexia: Be clear about what it is you’re offering, why it’s different, how you’re going to be relevant, how you’ll be able to deliver on your promise. Map it out and take it one step at a time, have an accountant advise you, stay on top of your cashflow. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work hard but also try to carve out some ‘off’ time for yourself because if you don’t you’ll get swallowed up by your business!

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8. It’s about reflecting on your achievements and looking to the future
Sophie: We are in that exciting time of having proven our new concept works and are now investigating the best way to scale while keeping the essence of the business alive. We would like to find fabulous women in the different states to partner and create Good Day Girl Trunk Shows nationally. Made to order is the new black!
Alexia: Three years in, we’re happy to say we’ve achieved what we set out to do for this first stage of the business. We’ve established a loyal clientele that grows season to season, we’re working with reliable Australian manufacturers, our customer feedback is great and we’re enjoying what we do. The next stage is to grow the business by setting up Good Day Girl salons in other locations, regional and interstate, showing the collections at the same time we do in our Paddington salon. Ideally we are looking for women that are either personal stylists or ex-retail as they will need to be passionate about customer service and making sure our Good Day Girls look great.

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Inga Kaminic
Inga is a Master of Media Practice graduate from the University of Sydney and a contributing writer for Kochie's Business Builders.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great story, thanks Inga! We’ve had a similar scenario happen in the incubator kitchen. As micro business, there certainly is power in numbers and sometimes the challenge is getting to meet like-minded business owners that are open to collaboration. Being part of a community and networking effectively is sometimes the answer. …Jane

    • Hi Jane – thanks so much for your comments! It is wonderful to have you as part of the Kochie’s Business Builders community. We would love to provide opportunities for you to learn and grow your business. We want to hear from readers and what you want to help you thrive as a micro business so please let us know what other kind of articles you’d like to read next. What are the issues you need help with in your business?

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