In our latest installment of Behind The Label, we are so excited to introduce you to a gorgeous Australian childrenswear brand, Lulu and Milly.
Founders Amanda and Jasmine are committed to growing a successful, sustainable business long term and are passionate about investing in their development. Amanda and Jasmine are members of our SYFB Online Programme and have worked with our consultants one-on-one to immerse themselves in the business side of fashion and industry best practice.
We are so happy to have these amazing ladies actively involved in our community!
1) Tell us about your brand, Lulu and Milly. How did you come up with your business idea?
‘Lulu and Milly is a girls clothing label for ages newborn to 5 years old. Our collections are proudly Australian made, with everything from the design, fabric production and manufacturing taking place here in Melbourne.
We met in mothers group 8 years ago and now have 5 children between us. The story of how we came up with our idea is funny.’
Amanda: ‘Jasmine and I were at a play centre one day and one of her girls was wearing a headband and we were talking about the cost of it. I said that I could make that and I went home and did just that. Soon after, we began talking about how we could sell them.’
‘We started off with a small amount of fabric and a few designs, created a Facebook page and started to sell them to people within our circle of influence. Within 6 months we had ourselves a website and had added leggings as well. We now have 5 product lines with an aim to add more this year.’
2) Did you have a background in fashion when you started your business?
Amanda: ‘I had worked in retail for many years as a manager at places such as Decjuba, but I moved into a travel background long before we started the business. I have always loved sewing and creating my own clothes so had a real passion for that.’
Jasmine: ‘No not at all! But I have always loved fashion, putting outfits together and even made some of my own clothes as a teenager.’
3) Was there a significant gap in the children’s fashion category that you wanted to fill?
‘Not so much a gap but an opportunity. We saw how popular baby headbands were and felt we could create products that people would love. Now that we are a few years on we feel our brand meets the niche category of everyday baby wear with a sophisticated feminine feel.’
4) You started out making baby headbands, and now you’re expanding into a range of gorgeous children’s clothing and accessories. How are you going about diversifying your niche?
‘We carefully select the prints we want to have printed to create our products. Each collection is selected based on how they relate to each other and have a story of why we chose those prints and the names associated with it. Our products are designed to be stylish yet comfy to wear.
We have a real passion for sustainability and are starting to develop our brand values to reflect this. We started our brand using organic cottons and as we increase our product range we will look more into natural fibres.’
5) What was your biggest obstacle starting out, and how did you overcome it?
‘In the beginning for us time was probably the biggest obstacle. We were 2 mums with 2 very small children each. We would work whenever the kids were sleeping, have meetings at local play centres and just squeeze in time whenever we could. It’s easier now that the kids are older and at school and kinder.
As we got further into our business we found it was difficult to take the business to the next step. We didn’t know how to find a manufacturer or someone to print our fabric. We are so grateful to other small businesses who have given us some suggestions and tips along the way. Networking has been really important to our brand.’
‘Around 6 months ago we started the SYFB program in addition to consultations with Elizabeth. Both have been invaluable to our business in adding the knowledge and practical steps needed for our business to continue to grow.’
6) How would you describe your customer base? How do they usually find out about you?
‘Our customers are made up of mostly mums aged 25-35 who have small children. Like most of us they are time poor so enjoy having 5 min to scroll beautiful images and online shop on Instagram. This is how the majority of our customers find us.’
7) How do you use social media to connect with potential customers? Do you have a strategy?
‘Social media is highly important for us to connect with our customers. From providing beautiful storytelling imagery, to educating customers about our brand story and product information, social media is the easiest way to grow that relationship with customers.’
‘The last 12 months we’ve noticed a big response to video content. Whether it be on Instagram stories or facebook lives, customers really respond to seeing the people behind the brand and instantly connect.’
In the past we haven’t had much of a strategy to be honest, but after working with Elizabeth we have begun to put content plans in place that support our business and financial goals.
8) Tell us how you stay organised as a business owner – what rituals, habits and wellbeing exercises do you have in place to make sure you have a good work/life balance?
‘Lists, lists and more lists! This year we’ve been working really hard at planning ahead. We’ve set up yearly calendars which includes every little thing that goes on in the business. We have monthly strategic planning meetings as well as work in progress meetings so we’re always addressing what is coming up.
As mums our time is very limited. Something that has worked really well is getting up 1-2 hours before the kids wake up to squeeze in some work time. Once the coffee kicks in it’s a super productive time as the house is quiet with zero distractions. First up is emails and social media, addressing anything that’s urgent and making things are scheduled for the day. I have a list of what needs to be done for the day which I try to prepare the night before and often find I can knock quite a bit off the list before the kids wake up. We also do a lot of work in the evenings, often checking in with each other over the phone.’
9) What is the main thing you wish you’d known when starting your fashion business?
‘To find your values, niche and target customer then pursue them! Sometimes it takes time to figure out what your brand is about. For us it took a few years of coming together, testing and trying our ideas, and defining our style before we had a real sense of what Lulu and Milly was.’
10) What are your plans for Lulu and Milly? Where do you see your business 1 year from now?
‘We want to expand our product range and really grow the business. We’re really excited to be working on some new pieces and starting to see them come to life. Our aim is to create a full product range so customers are able to purchase an entire outfit from us.
‘We really want to make our business more sustainable so are learning all we can about the differences we can make.’
It’s all a bit overwhelming but our plan is to look at the things we can change, and implement those over the next 12 months.
In 1 year from now we hope to have added a least another 5 products to our range and include a basics range in some solid colours to complement our prints. We are working hard to establish our wholesale service to get our brand into more stores and increase our brand awareness. Our goal is to be in 10 stores in the next year.’
Make sure to visit Lulu and Milly’s website to view their full collection here. You can also follow them on Instagram here for adorable updates!
If you’re interested in joining our SYFB Programme, we’d love to hear from you! You can fill in an enquiry form/request a programme guide here and we’ll get in touch to discuss how we can bring your fashion business to life!
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