Ever wondered what it takes to create a successful online fashion boutique? Well it takes a year of planning, a heap of determination and loads of hours every week just to get it going.
We caught up with Jane Simpson of HowNowMadamCow to find out what inspires her and what are some of the realities of growing a small business online.
Tell us a little about yourself, what's the day to day life like for a small business owner of HowNowMadamCow and who makes up the team?
We are mother and daughter. We met 22 years ago when Jane married Mim's father, Mim and her brothers lived with Jane and Robert - we have been inseparable ever since.
Life is super busy for us - Mim has an 11 month old baby, Freddie, and just married, so last year was extremely hectic for her as well as launching a business.
Mim focuses on the fashion and buying side of the business, juggling this with an very active baby.
Jane works full time as well as HowNowMadamCow, we both have busy family lives and love to be with our friends to. Jane focuses on the management and marketing side of the business.
Day to day life is FULL and we are so focused on building HowNowMadamCow and spend our days and nights working on it.
What (or who) inspires you, that encourages you to reach out and make things happen?
Eva Galambos from Parlour X is a huge inspiration. We admire her work ethic
and love for what she does as well as her unbelievable retail store and clothing
Samantha Cameron, wife of the British Prime minister David Cameron, juggles a very successful career whilst raising three children and dealing with the pressures of her husband's job, media and the work life balance.
You obviously have a passion for fashion, what inspires you about fashion? What makes your heart sing?
Obviously fashion is very beautiful and ever changing so there is always something interesting to covet or admire. However, our love of fashion is a little more severe than that, our greatest pleasures comes from seeing how fashion can transform almost anything; your mood, your day, your career, your love life.
It is a huge reflection of who we are and how we feel, and in that we can find the strength to become what we would like through self expression. The same can obviously be said for how it can make you feel horrible - which is where we come in! Transforming peoples wardrobes to hopefully transform even a little bit of their lives.
When did you fall in love with accessories?
In the last couple of years there has definitely been a huge trend in the 'It' bag. A bag is a subtle yet effective way of transforming not just one outfit, but many. Instead of having a wardrobe full of bags the focus tends to be on saving and investing in a great quality, beautiful bag that will see you through seasons. We love the challenge of saving for say a Chanel for a lifetime and satisfying our seasonal fashion fix through chain stores that always cover the key catwalk trends for a great price.
The same goes for jewellery. It is always a special occasion or moment when you purchase an investment piece of jewellery or even be lucky enough to be given one. Like a Swiss watch, diamond ring or gold necklace. These are everyday pieces that will stand through the seasons and your life. Costume jewellery is a great way to change up your outfits to suit whatever trend is in season aftre season.
What do you enjoy most about the running HowNowMadamCow?
We love seeing the growth of hownowmadamcow so it is setting a goal and seeing those achieved. Such as gathering interest in a new brand, finding a new brand and new websites that inspire us to think outside the box. Running your own business is hugely challenging and requires discipline but the freedom and the joy that come with the independence of your own business more than make up for it.
What's been the hardest part or experience you're had since starting the business?
Unfortunately there is a huge outlay of expenses at the beginning of any business. We were rejected by several banks in funding a loan to start so we had to be creative and come up with the funds ourselves. This was hugely challenging and more than a bit stressful. Budgets are an ongoing feature of businesses and we're grateful that having a limited budget has meant we have only bought the things we truly love.
What's been the best thing for the business that you just stumbled upon?
When we started the business we had high hopes for a luxurious and exclusive website that stocked expensive brands. We read magazines like British Vogue, Bazaar and the Australian Vogues, Marie Claires etc. We found that these items were harder to sell and so we started to read Cosmo, Cleo, Who and NW that have more accessible, fun and affordable fashion. When we realised a lot of these weren't online we were excited to contact them and stock them making it easier to find this great fashion locally.
What are the hopes and plans for HowNowMadamCow this year?
We've altered our price point and most of our items will be under $300. We still have luxury international brands like Superfine, House of Holland, Current/Elliot and exclusive Australian brands like Aje, we also have lots more everyday clothes and pieces that still feel special and luxurious to purchase, receive in the mail and own - they're more affordable.
We hope to increase our international sales and of course keep finding new and exciting brands. We would like to build our profile as a website that is a mecca for not only known brands, but new and up and coming brands not widely available.
What would be your top 5 tips you'd give to someone starting out?
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