Exciting Launch News: Stature Australia - ethical performance apparel
We caught up with Lily Brazel from the awesome Hockeyroos last week. We asked Lily to tell us about her journey, from starting her ethical performance apparel brand ‘Stature Australia’ to launching it this September. She very kindly gave us a little look behind the scenes... #nofilter - just real focus and determination.
Thanks for your time Lily, firstly we'd like to start with,
What inspired your business vision? The vision for Stature sprung out of plastic bags. About a year ago I was opening a suitcase which held my brand new Australia uniform. I was excited to be receiving the green and gold, but this excitement slowly dissipated as I saw each item in a single-use poly-bag. As I pulled each item out of its own packaging (over 60 items), plastic began to the fill the room. I felt so repulsed by the waste that was around me. It felt so unnecessary and my heart really felt for our earth. Seeing this immediate impact of the fashion industry at this final stage of garment packaging, I was driven to dig all the way back through the process of making clothes to see how big this impact really was. What I found could not be ignored - the fashion industry’s footprint was mammoth, overwhelming, terrifying to the point I thought there was no hope to fix it. But my vision to change this, to build a new way, to build Stature, became immediately apart of me as soon as I saw those poly-bags. This was my vision that came to me and I felt an overpowering sense of commitment to make it come to fruition.
Was there a gap in the performance apparel market that you wanted to fill? With my research, the gap that I found to fill and make the biggest impact in was performance apparel market, and more specifically the sporting uniform market. There are some performance brands out there making apparel with recycled fabrics and ‘committing’ to an environmentally friendly way of business, but in my research there were no brands nailing the whole process to ensure minimal environmental impact, as well as delivering quality performance apparel. So that’s where Stature comes in - the Australian-made performance apparel brand delivering garments that respect both athletes and our planet at every single step of the garment making process. The sporting uniform market is very untouched on a big scale in terms of ethical and sustainable products, so that’s where we’re heading.
How did your personal experience shape your products? As an elite athlete I’ve had a lot of experience with performance apparel, and a lot of experience with uniforms. Over my career, many of the uniforms I’ve had have been ill-fitted to athletic bodies and often made of fabric that didn’t support the body during exercise: they would hold sweat and become heavy. I’ve also had a lot of frustration, as have many of my teammates, with finding shorts that fitted our figures. We’ve struggled as athletes to find shorts that were based off a real athletic frame rather than a model. This was a big drive for me to make products that could fit the strong shapes of athletes. Being able to critique and test all the female samples on my body, and the male samples on male elite athletes, ensured I could develop the products as needed.
So tell us about your journey from professional hockey to fashion business owner with no prior fashion industry experience. What was your biggest obstacle at the beginning, and how did you overcome it? I really had no idea about making clothes at the beginning. In very early days when I was researching fabrics and discussing the garments I wanted to make with my manufacturer, I had no clue of the terminology being used. I didn’t know the difference between a knit or woven fabric, I didn’t even know what knit or woven meant. I didn’t know what a pattern was, I didn’t know what MOQ stood for (minimum order quantity) or CMT (cut, make, trim). If you viewed my browser history from that time it would be a lot of Google searches on these words. I had to learn a lot in order to convey what I wanted to the manufacturer, but I wanted to know and understand EVERYTHING so I could make the best decisions for the environment and for the athletes wearing the products. My own research helped, but reaching out to my aunty who previously worked in the fashion industry and to the mentors at The Fashion Society were important steps to help tackle a very unknown world.
What resources did you use and would you recommend? Contacting The Fashion Society was a turning point for my journey. I really don’t think I would be where I am if I hadn’t of reached out to them. It was some of the best money I spent on my business. The ideas that flowed from the meetings with them, the support, the knowledge, the skills have all been so valuable to Stature.
Where does your print inspiration come from? One of the best assets of The Fashion Society is Maddie, from the Digital Weaver, who created the print that features on our garments. This print was an important part in making our garments SPEAK and have life beyond a plain black running tee. The print created is inspired by the ocean and has inspired the whole collection Tidal Range. The ocean is a powerful force and our garments are a reflection of this force of nature.
Do you mind telling us a little about your branding and marketing. Can you give us an insight into how you approached your launch strategy? There was a story to tell with Stature - so I didn’t want to launch with products ready to sell right away (as some people told me to do). I wanted to share the story, grow a community (a following) interested in this story and knowledgeable on the products they would soon be investing in. I reached out to a lot of friends across Australia to follow along and bring their friends too. When I finally released the products, I had a solid group of loyal followers that preordered on day one. -
Do you have a Social Media Marketing strategy? There is so much to social media marketing and I’m learning a lot about this along the way. For Stature, the overarching strategy is to be real and authentic in everything that we share/say. I started Stature because I wanted to ensure athletes and the environment could thrive at their peak. So when I market/sell/speak about Stature this is what I come back to.
Do you work with sports influencers to promote your brand? This is a path we are developing at the moment. We’re creating a community of brand ambassadors that truly align with the brand. Stay tuned!
Can you tell us about your plans for Stature Australia. Where do you see your business 2 years from now? In 2 years I’d like Stature to be a well-know brand within the Australian performance apparel scene. I also see Stature moving into custom uniforms and having some key Australian athletes as brand ambassadors. Deeper than the reputation of the brand, I see Stature having developed even more innovative methods of garment making that preserve our environment and restore balance.
Growing a business can be overwhelming, can you share with us your favourite mantra, that helps you manage your sports career and still maintain a good work/life balance?
My favourite mantra is ‘Focus on what you want to expand’ … and BREATHE! These are two mantras I remind myself of daily, sometimes hourly. Both of these aspects of my life can be overwhelming and stressful, but to manage I have to focus on what I want and what I have right now rather than letting my mind fall into thinking of what I DON’T want to happen. Where you put your energy, is where you go. So I focus my energy on what I want - and I go there. And to do all of that, I need to BREATHE! A few moments of focused breathing can often make all the stress go away.
And finally, what would be your best 3 tips for anyone wanting to start a fashion business?
1. CONTACT THE FASHION SOCIETY - if you need help with anything, be sure that they will have the answer and some!
2. Make it ethical and sustainable - we don’t need more brands impacting our earth, we need brands protecting it.
3. Be passionate about what you’re making, and find people who are equally passionate about it to help you.
Wow that was awesome, thank you so much for sharing Lily! We love your brand ethos and wish you loads of success!
Maddie & The Fashion Society Australia Team