When shopping for clothes, most of us are used to browsing the racks — whether real or virtual — to find new garments and accessories to add to our wardrobes. Yet Adelaide-based fashion designer Sally Phillips offers her clients something a little different and infinitely more special: her designs are available by appointment only.
It’s a fashion formula that’s clearly served Sally well. Launching the business back in 2000, Sally Phillips (the business and the designer) has recently released its Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Shown by appointment only in each Australian capital city, the approach allows Sally’s team to work directly with clients to create and individualise their new wardrobe. From here, personal orders are placed and the garments produced in Australia. A runway show launches the season in Adelaide, while interstate clients are posted their seasonal look book to view the new collection prior to their private appointments. Each design is characterised by a devotion to layering, signature accessorising, and a strong focus on smart and timeless wardrobe building.
So, Sally, tell us about your clients…
My clients are successful, busy women who want a complete wardrobe solution in one shopping experience.
What prompted you to start your business? Did you identify a gap in the market?
I found a real need to design clothes that I wanted to wear myself and simply couldn’t find! I just wasn’t finding clothing for my age (early 20s at that time) and thought there needed to be more unique and one-off designs available.
What’s special about your business? What’s your ‘Point of Difference’?
We offer an extremely sought after retail experience of styling and complete wardrobe solutions for fashion-minded women. All orders are made after appointment only viewing, where clients are aided in completing a total look for day to day wear. We are an extremely hands on business, exceptionally involved with our clientele. Every client is well known, and we offer a fantastic client service with regular contact to ensure they feel special and well looked after.
Who are your competitors?
As we have such a unique business model, we are offering an entirely new concept. However, we tend to fall under the same category as Scanlan Theodore, sass & bide, and Willow.
What was your first major achievement in the business?
The first major achievement was runner up in the Mercedes Start Up Fashion Awards.
What has been your biggest challenge? What obstacles have you overcome?
The biggest challenge has been getting my manufacturers to deliver my garments on time. We rely heavily on their word and it’s an extremely delicate balance of being firm yet nice enough to get goods delivered on time. There’s also the manufacturing restrictions in Australia. Knitwear is virtually impossible to get made, and the quality here is much lower when it comes to knitwear. We simply do not have the expertise as some overseas manufacturers do.
I found a real need to design clothes that I wanted to wear myself and simply couldn’t find!
Tell us about your marketing strategy…
We don’t tend to advertise other than through social media, and now have our PR managed by the fantastic Maria Farmer in Sydney. We find that a lot of our clients invite their friends and family, and the business has grown from that.
Who is/was your business inspiration?
Our business model is a completely unique experience, although adopting and encapsulating Isabel Marant who has, over 20 years, slowly built her brand and is now a cult favourite. She has self-propelled and financially backed her business.
What is one thing you could be doing better in your business? What’s your opportunity?
Improving our online presence and strategy to engage a larger demographic. Our website is not yet an e-boutique but we have had such a great response from the upgrade we recently completed, and this is the next step to increase our web presence. We have plans for an online capsule collection in the works.
Do you have a mentor? (Or did you have a mentor during your business-building phase?)
No, I started it all from scratch, solo!
What does the future hold for your business? Where to from here?
We will launch the online store to make us accessible to ladies who cannot attend an appointment with us. Also, to solidify an even stronger personal clientele base. We are really pushing for our online store to be launched by the end of the year.
I love my business because… it gives me creative freedom and control, and I can work it around my hectic family life! I love being part of a strong team that feels as passionate about my business as I do and together, with the business, grow.
At a Glance
Business Name: Sally Phillips
Business Structure: I am a fashion designer/manufacturer based in Adelaide.
Location: Fullarton, South Australia
Your Position: Founder/Creative Director
Year Business Established: 2000
Number of Employees: 10
Visit Sally Phillips
First published September 2014.