Being your own boss, getting started in the industry and what you can expect when it comes to starting your own fashion label.
Aimee Kendall gives us an insight into her role as founder and creative director of our favourite powerful, yet playful and evidently successful lingerie label. Familiar to women all around Australia, Aimee Cherie Intimates is the leading destination for intimates that are highly covetable and ethically Australian made.
TELL US ABOUT AIMEE CHERIE INTIMATES – HOW DID THE IDEA TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN LINGERIE LINE COME ABOUT?
AC Intimates is an Australian Made lingerie label, based here in Perth WA. There was never actually some light bulb moment where I thought, I’m going to launch a lingerie label. All of it has been very much by accident you could say, or the consequence of other decisions I’ve made in life.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING FOR YOURSELF? WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?
I think I’ve been self employed for about 5 years now. There’s many pros and cons you could argue each way but I love it! While I can schedule my days how I like, there’s a tonne of late nights, and many days in a row without a day off. I’ve found though that when you’re so passionate about what you’re doing those kinda things tend to not matter so much.
IS IT JUST YOU RUNNING THE BUSINESS? OR ARE THERE MORE PEOPLE IN YOUR TEAM? WHAT IS YOUR MAIN ROLE IN RUNNING THE BUSINESS?
I’m lucky to have some wonderful people surrounding me that help me with all sorts of things. I’ve always been a big believer in if there’s something you can’t quite do to near perfection then call in a professional. I don’t have just one main role, I wear many hats in my business still- I’m most of the time the person on the other end of your customer care emails, I handle wholesale accounts, assisting cutting orders, sewing some part of each and every piece that leaves this studio, packaging, marketing and advertising, and producing our shoots. Anything that has anything to do with ACI usually has a whole heap to do with me!
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU/ YOUR TEAM?
Each day is so different depending on our priorities- whether it’s online orders, wholesale orders, new collection design and production or shoot production. I do like to make sure I check what’s happened on our social media over night, put up a morning post, and check my emails. If any orders came in over night I like to look over them too incase anything needs to be prioritized. I’ll usually sew at least for a few hours each day, and I always make sure I reply to my emails within 24 hours.
WHAT SKILLS ARE REQUIRED TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL LINGERIE LABEL?
I had absolutely no idea how to make lingerie before I started teaching myself how to make our now classic bralettes. I’d studied at TAFE for 3 years prior though and I think that the knowledge I learnt there about general clothing production has been one of my greatest assets. Other then that though, I knew nothing. Everything I know of how to run this business is mostly self taught, through a lot of mistakes, and a lot of watching and asking others in successful businesses. I think if you want something bad enough, you’ll find what you need to do it.
WOULD YOU SAY THE SKILLS YOU AQUIRE HAVE BEEN LEARNT OVER THE YEARS, OR ARE THEY SKILLS YOU HAD FROM THE START?
Not necessarily. A lot of the skills I have now I most certainly did not have to begin with. I learnt from years at TAFE, and years of making the same product and trying to find better and bigger ways to sell it. It’d be a worry if I was still the same human as I was 4 years ago!
WHAT IS YOUR SEASON-TO-SEASON WORK CYCLE? (EG, DO YOU DESIGN YOUR LINGERIE IN COLLECTIONS, OR ARE NEW/ DIFFERENT PIECES ADDED EACH MONTH?
We mostly do a new big summer collection that launches every years around October. We then also tend to do a winter drop around the middle of the year, which is a bit smaller then summer. In between we may re-release popular favourites that have been previously discontinued.
HOW DO YOU KEEP IN THE KNOW WHEN IT COMES TO SEASONAL TRENDS? DO YOU LIKE TO FOLLOW INTERNATIONAL/ LOCAL LINGER TRENDS?, OR DO YOU PREFER DOING YOUR OWN THING?
I don’t tend to follow trends when designing our new collections, but instead aim to improve on things I thought were lacking from the last.
DO YOU FIND THE BALANCE TOUGH BETWEEN BUYING FOR YOUR TARGET MARKETS, WORKING WITH BUDGETS AND STAYING ON-TREND? HOW DO YOU ASSURE ALL 3 ARE MET?
For sure! I’ve learnt now though what our boundaries are when looking at new laces and textiles, or even when updating our branding. To keep our margins tight, I understand now where my spending has to stop. There has definitely been times when I’ve wanted to try something in a new collection or add a new piece, but the costing at the end of the day wouldn’t of actually worked for the business. It’s a shame sometimes when you know you could make something really beautiful and that may be very popular, but it doesn’t make sense if it won’t work for the business- that’s the main concern always at the end of the day.
IN CREATING BEAUTIFUL LINGERIE THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL LOVE; HOW DO YOU ASSURE EACH PIECE WILL DO WELL? HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO CANCEL AN IDEA BECAUSE IT WASN’T DOING AS WELL AS SOME OF THE OTHERS?
Absolutely! So many pieces never make the final cut. Being a few years in now has given me a sense of what’s important to our customer. There’s always certain aspects I know to keep in new designs, and things that didn’t do well last season create room for new ideas.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT SINCE STARTING AIMEE CHERIE INTIMATES?
Oh gosh, I’m not even sure, this one always gets me. Having my own business has lead me to have some very satisfying personal highlights. I’m not sure if there so sweet because I had to go out and get them myself, under my own direction and motivation but its certainly been very rewarding to own a business like AC Intimates.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST SATISFYING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I get to meet a lot of other wonderful creative people and business women and men. I’m so interested in how people from all different walks of life, in all different fields find their version of success and it’s incredible the people I have been able to meet so far.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY, WHO WOULD DREAMS OF ONE DAY STARTING THEIR OWN LABEL?
Go get as much experience as you can. Volunteer- it’s never beneath you. Go to seminars. Actually speak to people who work in this industry. Also each role in this industry is so different, so don’t be put off by one experience, or someone else who you thought had your dream job. If you want to start your own label, first consider how much it really costs, and the hours it will take. It takes constant dedication, even through tough economies and bad weeks! But the satisfaction you will get from being your own boss, making your owns dollars, and growing something that has your name on is indescribable.
Aimee Cherie Intimates is currently stocked in boutiques across WA, NSW and ACT. For the full list of stockists, click here.