Today’s amazing business woman is so modest about her achievements, it makes me cry out in pain! For over 20 years she has been designing and producing a range of the cutest baby wear clothing, when most other people in the fashion industry have chosen to get someone else to do it for them, or have gone off-shore.
My hat goes off to you Bronwyn – it is so rare to find someone else ‘crazy’ enough to make all their own designs – you are massive inspiration to me. Thank you!
Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?
I started 20 years ago – can you believe it ! I make childrens wear with a focus on baby wear – under the label Retrobub.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was inspired after the birth of my daughter. I had a background in fashion design and was appaulled by how boring childrens wear, and babywear in particular, was. So I set out to produce a range of babywear that was fun and fashionable. I quickly found that people where looking for baby clothes that where cute enough to give as a gift to people expecting, but they didn’t know the gender of the baby, so I started with a range of gender-neutral babywear to fulfill this need.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
It wasn’t when I was just starting off, but a few years in, my accountant gave me a talking to about paying myself properly. It is very easy to not include every hour you work into your pricing, but in the end you are just exploiting yourself. If something is too expensive, then you have to find a way to make it cheaper (less detail, cheaper materials, made in a more time efficent way) – you can’t just make the price lower and rip yourself off. And if you can’t get the price down, then its not a profitable product and maybe you should scrap it and concentrate on an item you can make more profit on.
What was the most difficult part about starting your business?
All the business stuff. I am a designer and creative and I find that side is my strength, but all the things that make up the other aspects of running a business are very difficult.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?
To listen to customers, but to take their comments with a grain of salt. Customers and people are always giving you advice, but they do so very flippantly. I have learnt the hard way that customers that like your product just buy it, they don’t need to talk about it. But people who give you lots of advice, saying “you should make this…”, don’t actually share your vision, and are not the best people to listen too. Listen to your sales, and work on the things that are selling.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
Time and weekends !! Always working weekends selling at markets has affected my social life, and people think I am crazy when I ask if they want to do something on a Monday which is my day off.
Also business can be good but it can be slow at times too and cash flow can be a real problem.
What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?
How hard it is, but if i did I never would of started! As I said before, my strength is the design and creative aspects, and in hindsight, I would of tried to find a partner for the business that had strengths in the other areas of admistration.
What has been your biggest success so far?
I don’t think I have had any success (Collette’s note: Bronwyn is WAY too modest, go and check out the quality of her work every third Sunday of the month, at the Shirt & Skirt Market at the Abbotsford Convent) – it is a work in process.
After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?
I like to spend time with friends and family, at the beach and dining out.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to see the online store to grow.