Tell us a bit about your business?
Fourzero newborn essentials are ethically designed and made in Australia.
Fourzero is a beautiful collection of wardrobe essentials for newborn babies. The clothing has been designed with my vast knowledge of newborn babies and includes many design features to keep the newborn baby settled and comfortable. Fourzero clothing garments are suitable from birth to ten weeks old. The accessories are fast becoming favourites within the family through to toddler years.
Each piece is lovingly made by our team in Brisbane from Organic Cotton and Bamboo providing soft luxury for the new baby. The buttery soft fabric swaddles the newborn allowing them to settle and relax after birth.
I am passionate about providing support to new parents with their babies and each design is embedded with my knowledge as a Paediatric Intensive care nurse.
Why did you start up your business?
Fourzero was established after relocating in Australia Permanently in 2010 and realising that my nursing qualifications would not translate directly to a working role in neonatology. I had been working in Europe for a decade.
I took the decision to start my own business and apply the vast knowledge I have from my nursing career into designing and manufacturing my own clothing label for newborns. A daunting and frightening experience at times but I am glad that being unable to work as a nurse has given me the opportunity to take the plunge and work for myself. I would have it no other way. It’s not only exciting but exhilarating watching others understand my passions for newborns.
I believe there was a gap in the market for purpose fitting clothing for the newborn. I have dressed and cared for hundreds of babies and their needs are all the same, to have clothing that fits correctly, is comfortable and easy to sleep in from birth to ten weeks. This enables a settled routine early on after birth. I believe my collection meets these needs and enables parents to care for their babies and eliminate another skill to learn in the daunting time of parenthood.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
Fourzero Pty Ltd was established in November 2010 but did not trade to the public until June 2012. In the eighteen months after establishment I took this time to develop the brand and learn the skills necessary to run a successful fashion label for babywear.
I have had to learn about Intellectual property rights, pattern making, how to sew garments so that I can communicate with my manufacturers properly and how to conduct myself in the business world.
Being a nurse I have been able to utilise many of the skills I already possess such as time management, hard work ethic and attention to detail.
The greatest obstacle was learning about the textile industry and especially because I am manufacturing onshore. I do not have a fashion degree but I have a keen interest in fashion and a vast knowledge in how to dress babies. With these skills it took twelve months to work with different professionals in the industry until I found the right working relationships to establish a clothing collection.
I count the pattern makers, manufacturers and web developers as part of the fourzero team even though they are all independent businesses I contract work through.
Manufacturing in Australia is a complicated process with the textile laws changing over the past two years. I have to be up to date with current working practices and the product safety laws linked to children’s clothing.
Planning is key in order to keep the momentum in your business. Finances, marketing and functioning of the business all need to have structure ongoing planning has to happen.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
Research and Plan.
Be realistic in your aims for the business. Think very clearly about your business name and have your business plan outlined that includes your USP (unique selling point). It’s about recording your ideas and constantly developing them. A business plan is never static.
Understanding the structure you need to set the business up in the correct nature for your business.
Intellectual property should never be overlooked. Fourzero Pty Ltd did not start out as so, after a trademark application was rejected I had to go back to the drawing board and looking back I am grateful I had to before I launched to trade because a rebrand would have been very costly, confusing for existing customers and I would have to restart my branding campaigns all over again.
Invest in a professional logo that isn’t bought from a collective or pre-made site that others can use. This may seem like a large cost to begin with but in the long term it’s a very small price to pay.
Finances need to be planed carefully. Is it feasible to work on the business fulltime whilst you cannot draw a wage or would it be better to start your business alongside your job until turnover is established? It is a slow process getting the business to succeed. Do not be afraid by failure or the time it takes to get to a functioning point for turnover. On average a new business will not turnover a profit for four years!
Research and knowledge of your target market you wish to provide for is fundamental to understand where your product or service is going to lay in the market place. Start to ask questions to people who are not your friends or family to receive honest answers about your business idea. Search for competitors and start to look at how their business works and what can you learn from them if you do go into business. You need to be aware of the market place is it saturated? How are you going to sell to your customer? Can you make a passive income from the business also? Are you fulfilling a need for your customer?
Social media is important in a business but Facebook, Google+ or twitter is no use to you if they are not enabling revenue to be had from your business. Nor is it useful if it takes all your time away from the business. Social media is great for support and networking.
Once you have your ABN in place and you have secured your trading name secure the domain names in all the markets you think you will cover that includes Australia and international. Once that is completed secure an email address that links to your business name. There is nothing more unprofessional than using a free website address. Personally it is acceptable but not in business it makes you look small. There is nothing wrong with being a small business working from home, ‘fake it until you make it!’
Lastly, get professional business cards. You can get many for free but make sure the quality reflects your brand identity.
Fourzero is a very unique business model because I only focus on a small part of the babywear industry. I manufacture onshore and I only use the finest materials for my garments. I am focusing on the gift market for newborn babies. With this in mind my ongoing expenses are very high and I needed to be aware of this before outlaying a large amount of capital. I was very clear about this from the start of my business journey. You will never please everyone but aim for the highest expectations in the customers you do serve.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
After realizing I could not continue my successful nursing career from Europe I took the plunge and invested in my company.
How did you family and friends react?
Supportive. My husband and I enjoy our life and we work so that we can enjoy it. Work should never be difficult and if you don’t love what you do find something that makes you happy.
How has your life changed?
I have become more confident and I am truly happy with my career.
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
Fourzero has been recognised as a boutique brand for babywear by the experts in the fashion industry. Fourzero came seventh in the ‘National Launch your Label’ Competition 2012 eight weeks after launch. Fourzero was one of fifteen semifinalists in the competition and we were the only babywear brand amongst women’s couture, accessories and swimwear.
Ethical Fashion Forum in London has awarded Fourzero for our innovative and progressive brands because we are committed to sustainability and fair working conditions during Australian Manufacture. The ‘Fellowship 500’ units 500 like-minded international businesses on the same platform to help inform and grow the fashion industry through out the world. Fourzero was recently showcased in the international ‘Source’ tradeshow for sustainable fashion in London.
Being showcased in magazines and websites for our collection of luxuriously soft boutique babywear.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
Fourzero to be known as the go to newborn brand on the market. I hope to be stocked throughout Australian Boutiques and International department stores.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
Vision and belief in your business are very important. Passion naturally comes through if you love what you do and you are honest. A customer will not buy into your brand if you don’t believe what you are saying.
Quadruple the initial budget for any business you had in mind as everything costs so much more and takes a lot longer than you think.