In the era of personalised everything, making a mark on the fashion market could be deemed tough. But when passion, customisation and quality all join.... You get the Sweater Club.
We got to speak with Colbee, the owner and founder of Sweater Club this week. They are a custom embroidery company based in Oakleigh, Victoria! Colbee is a one woman show who completes all the orders and machine work herself, all from her double garage set up. Sounds like hard work? You betcha. But she can't take all the credit- she has the help of her fury side kick, Elton.
The Cookie Stories Co: What inspired you to create the Sweater Club?
Colbee: I had always been obsessed with sweaters and spent way too much on them. I also was obsessed with everyone's merch, it didn't matter if it was a show I went to, or a gym I had just joined - I would want the merch. I was in between jobs and wanted to do something that would fill my creative cup up, so I decided to design a simple embroidered sweater, made a website and ordered in sweaters. The people (not just my mum, friends and Aunty's) LOVED it. The rest is history.
TCSC: When did you know this could be a real thing?
Colbee: When I realised that maybe every 3rd order going through the website wasn't a name I knew. The biggest moment though was when I decided to buy my own embroidery machine and not outsource the work. I was able to offer custom pieces created by customers and this was when everyone jumped on board.
TCSC: What struggles have you come across running your own small business?
Colbee: Plenty of struggles but I like to look at them as lessons. I have had to learn most things about business along the way. I was lucky enough to work for an amazing company (Lululemon) for 5yrs prior and definitely took specific skills and knowledge from there. I knew nothing about Import Tax, Tax in general, GST, insurance .. the list goes on (I still don't know much about those things). But I DO know how to work my machines and make cool shit for people!
TCSC: How did you come across The Cookie Stories Co.?
Colbee: Kim reached out early on and noticed that we were local buddies, we met up for coffee, she made me some cookies, I made her a sweater ... the rest is history. Our dogs are now in love so we catch up all the time. (Elton4Lucy) Special!
TCSC: Collaborating with other entrepreneurs has its perks. Can you name any?
Colbee: #1 - I have access to the cookie queen whenever I need something whipped up. I'm not just saying this because it's herrr blog but Kim DOES make the best tasting cookies around. There are a lot of cookie masters out there at the moment but when it comes to quality taste (and look), Cookie Stories Co is always going to win in my eyes.
Collaborating is such a funny term these days. Most of my collaborations have worked so well and I have made friends with other local entrepreneurs through doing them. It's such a great feeling when you can support other businesses at the same time as building your own. There are some downsides of collaborations too but that's for another day.
TCSC: What advice would you recommend to people wanting to start their own business?
Colbee: Ready for Cliche .... JUST START. It's so true though. Fear can overcome us and stop us from doing so much in this world. If you have the passion and your idea/business sets a fire inside of you - it is what you are meant to be doing. Take the risk, you can always go back to your old life if it doesn't work out. Also - set aside money to find a good accountant.
TCSC: Finally what’s the next chapter in the Sweater Club story?
Colbee: Oooo. This story has only just begun. Sweater Club is going to stay within my double garage for another year so that I can fine tune logistic things (BORING but necessary). I will be growing my team within this year so that I am able to spread the Sweater Club love around the world and reach more people. I would love to have Sweater Club US and UK up and running within the next 2 years. EXCITING! Come watch :)
Want to know more about the adventures of Sweater Club and her trusty side kick Elton? Follow them on Instagram @sweaterclubaus or check their online store - sweaterclubaus.com