Small businesses in Australia continue to push the boundaries of our ‘glocal’ economy. The ShortPress Small Talk series profiles a diverse range of small businesses to find out what they do and what makes them tick.
Duke of London launched in 2012 as a brand that could fill a gap in the fashion market: fashionable, comfortable clothes for kids. Since then, the business has attracted celebrities including Kourtney Kardashian. ShortPress sat down with the owner and designer, Kiri-Moana Proctor.
ShortPress: Describe your small business in less than 50 words.
Duke of London: Duke of London is here for the boys, but not just any boy. Our unique designs find the perfect balance between uber-cool and comfort for active little dudes aged three months to eight years. Duke of London has taken boys wear to the next level and answered the call from fashion-forward mums across the globe.
What inspires you as a business owner?
DoL: As a mommy business owner, I am entirely inspired and solely driven by my two young boys, London and Duke. To be able to provide an amazing life and cater to them in this hard, busy 21st century society we live in is my single and most important motivation.
All my designs reflect what they get up to, and how they can be comfortable and cool doing what they love – just being tough, rough, messy boys.
What does a typical day for you look like?
DoL: A typical day for me is a 5am wake up, walk the dog, a little bit of screaming over Weet-Bix, shower, uniforms, grab a shake and pop some lip gloss on as I do the school drop off. 9am is the start of the five hours of my carefully scheduled work day. My time is limited, so I use every second wisely. There are meetings with my pattern lady and Skype sessions with my manufacturer, packing orders and planning trade shows. Chaos to control is something I have had to apply to my daily life since starting my business. At 3pm it's back for school pick up, gymnastics or footy, and just like anyone else, dinner and bed routines. Then there is always one little job that didn't get finished through the day and with the time zones, it's always best to interact with the US and other countries at night.
What have your biggest challenges been so far and how have you overcome them?
DoL: My partner and I separated in the first year of this businesses opening, so it was really tough raising a business and raising two boys under three. Parenting, schooling and just being a mom was tough. The way we overcame these hiccups was to ensure that the boys were our priority and my partner and I have a great co-parent relationship, which has made it much easier.
By no means is it easy, but when you are on the same page it just works.
What about your biggest learnings?
DoL: My greatest learnings, I'd say, have come from pricing my products – ensuring my expenses are covered, making sure the prices are competitive and can meet the market demands.
If you could start over again, would you do anything differently?
DoL: I get nervous to answer this question, because I feel like I wouldn't actually change it. Because I have had to be smart with my money, I can't afford to make large errors in this business. So if I was to start over again, I'd be starting the exact same journey. Always looking forward.
What advice would you give to budding small business owners?
DoL: My advice is so simple, you have to be true to your dream. I have had to follow mine closely.
Advice comes thick and fast from others and as soon as you veer off the track.
You can't please everyone, but if you are pleasing yourself, this business feels good.
Who are the business leaders you look up to and why?
DoL: Being inspired by people is so important to me.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by some extremely successful business people, and am constantly learning from them. My mentors are always inspirational, exciting and positive. They’re qualities I aspire to.
Where to now for your business?
DoL: This year Duke of London, come February, will have a spanking new website to handle more traffic and to cater for our increasing online presence. We have just signed a new business manager and we have tripled our collection sizes. The world renowned New York Trade Show is the next stop!
2016 is looking mighty fine, and we can't wait.