Jessica Wadeson of Love Jessie
Jess started working with Sample Room in March 2021. The idea for Love Jessie stemmed from Jess’s daughter’s love of imaginary play. She, herself, had memories of a play dress from when she was a girl that she loved and could not get out of her head. On obtaining a patent for her idea Jess knew she had to move fast on her development. During this time, she also moved from Qld to the beautiful Victorian high country. Jess’s commitment to branding is evident in everything she does. What she learnt was how to develop a product that reflects your aesthetic to keep your brand on track for a beautiful result. I think you will agree.
Tell me about Jessica and Love Jessie?
The first range of Love Jessie is called The Everleigh “Companion” Collection. It includes dresses and play accessories to encourage imaginary play in children. It’s about everyday, every occasion timeless fashion for little girls. The dresses have interchangeable companion “dolly” carrier play accessory that can be mixed and matched through snap buttons and buckles on the side. We have other exciting play accessories planned for future Collections that will be interchangeable with all Love Jessie clothing ranges. I did a lot of research at the idea conception phase and applied for a patent and design protections, as nobody else is doing this in the market.
I really wanted to create a dress that was comfortable, timeless and durable and have the ability to attach and detach our play accessories (for example companion carrier) whenever you like. As a parent it can fit in your bag and just clips on or off as your child needs, creating flexible play opportunities.
The dresses are for little ones aged 10 months old and up to about 5.5 – 6 year old.
When I started with the idea, I was in the process of moving from Brisbane to regional Victoria. I was between jobs at the time, and we were moving from hotel to hotel, so really didn’t have much spare time. Once we settled in a beautiful part of the country, I was able to really concentrate on all of the things I needed to get the business off the ground.
I now work part time for a local council in community wellbeing. I have a varied background, with a focus on early childhood education. Having a gap in working whilst moving states gave me the time to really get stuck into Love Jessie when it was needed most.
How did you find the Fashion Label Launchpad program? What did you learn?
I was thinking about what I learnt, and I realise it was everything. I have absolutely no fashion experience whatsoever. Participating in the program really opened my eyes into what goes into creating a label. It also helped me to adjust my expectations to align a lot more with the reality of starting a fashion label.
It really gave me everything I needed to launch and produce my products. It showed me how to navigate through the process and I think that in itself was a very valuable learning.
I came up with my idea last March and did some research online, found Sample Room and in hindsight, am really glad I did. Now that I know what I know, there is no way I would have been able to navigate this industry without Sample Room. Having all the components together also made things so much easier.
Doing the program and going through the development has also really solidified my passion for Australian made. I was always passionate about it, but I now know what goes into getting it done, I have much deeper understanding and respect for what happens behind the scenes. We are now officially apart of the #australianmadecampaign!
Being based in regional Victoria, did that make things harder than if you were still in Brisbane?
No, not at all. Because of the move, Covid and my young family I have minimal structured time. Having the materials and meetings online works really well for me. I didn’t feel like I was disconnected or at a disadvantage at all. I would probably go as far to say that I prefer the online approach.
Were there any big a-ha moments?
I think the biggest a-ha moment was Australian versus overseas production. I knew straight away that I wanted everything made in Australia. It was simply non negotiable for me.
By learning about overseas production, it reiterated my beliefs and made me feel like it was not only an emotional decision but simply the right decision. With the choice of smaller quantities and reducing wastage using Australian production, I realised these were things I am passionate about. Ignoring these things certainly were going to go against my brand. Then there was the questions of large production numbers, when you are just starting out, I was thinking, how would I ever sell that many? And, where would I even put them all? And is that even realistic?
I learnt through the program that while overseas production is an option, it wasn’t an option for me. In fact, it would have been a disadvantage for me to go off-shore.
Now that you are in the industry, is there anything you think the Australian fashion industry could do better? Anything you think is ‘broken’?
Before I started, I really didn’t know how strong the industry in Australia actually was. There really needs to be a lot more education and awareness that it is entirely possible to develop and make in Australia and what the industry is capable of.
It really bothers me that some labels are misleading which actually disadvantages those in the industry who Australian made as well as designed and owned. I have found that some labels really emphasise that they are “Australian Owned” and “Australian Designed” and some consumers automatically think they are actually Australian Made, but in reality, in many cases, its being developed and made elsewhere. The price-point that they sell at (those that are not made in Australia) also makes it harder for those who actually make in Australia. In many ways, it deceives the consumer.
It’s only when the consumer buys it online and receives it, do they discover from the label it wasn’t made in Australia. That’s too late because the hassle of sending it back is too much.
What was your mindset in the process and expectations before you started?
I probably didn’t have any real expectations before I started. I think my mindset was that this was going to be fairly easy. This certainly changed as my awareness expanded.
There is no doubt I have exceeded any expectations I may have had, partly because I’ve been able to do this in less than a year.
In all, the whole thing has been a really positive experience.
I had some challenges with getting fabrics, but would you believe my biggest challenge was getting labels. I partnered with a local graphic designer and she was fantastic. We came up with some beautiful label designs. As I felt pressed for time, I chose a company to produce the labels without looking into it close enough. I had a bit of a panic and I remember sending Sample Room some panic emails when I had ordered their production. I think I had a sleepless night that night.
But, with your help, I put plan B into action and cancelled the order and found a new company to produce the labels and it worked out really well. I am glad it did cancel the original company, as I suspect it would have delayed everything if it didn’t.
There is no doubt, being super organised in the process makes everything go so smoother. Not just the development aspects, but websites, etc. The better your planning, the better the result, because often multiple aspects of launching your label and the business components are all happening at the same time.
What are your thoughts on the Fashion Label Launchpad?
I remember doing your introductory session and thinking to myself that there is a lot more to this than I realised. I signed up pretty much straight away for the Fashion Label Launchpad. I think it was the first day I had access to the program and I thought to myself, yeah I really need this.
To be completely transparent, I did actually engage a freelancer to create a tech pack for me, but after finding Sample Room I came to the realisation that it was a pitfall, and I shouldn’t have done it. But at the time, I thought I needed someone to kind of draw my idea to give me a sense of whether or not this was a good idea.
But after staring with Sample Room the sketch came to life and I was convinced that this was a unique idea, something that could do well. Something that people will want. The Launchpad was instrumental in coming to that realisation.
The information and the sharing in the Launchpad were important to my brand getting to where I have. If I had to navigate this on my own, I don’t think I would have got this far. I’m sure I would have made lots of mistakes.
Was there a time or point in the process that you thought might stop you?
The labels. They really concerned me. But my Plan B worked, so I guess it was a hurdle, but it was only something that slowed me down for a bit. I am not sure what I would have done if my Plan B didn’t work as well as it did.
The Fashion Label Launchpad gave me the guidance I needed, when I needed it to get all of the many elements completed at the time that they needed to be done. Even getting my website built, meant I didn’t have to panic and possibly make a bad decision on the fly. I had enough time to consider all the elements and make sure they lined up and reflected what I wanted.
I think having things happen simultaneously means you can avoid those urgent panic moments where it is much more likely to go wrong.
I actually started a small boutique business under my business name at the same time. I sourced Australian made dolls which were consistent with my branding and my fashion label and set up a Shopify website to sell them. This gave me some experience in dealing with customers, postage, fulfilling purchases and navigating my way around Shopify. It allowed me to play around with the website so that when I was ready to launch Love Jessie I had much more knowledge to draw on. Fewer mistakes. Again, to allow me to avoid panic decision making.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who wants to start a label?
I think it is being able to critically look at all the steps involved. Not just the development and manufacturing, but all the other things that sit behind a business. And if you can’t develop and understand those things, I think you will really struggle to create something that you feel confident about.
It’s about things like brand creation. What is your ethos? Who are you? What do you want to achieve? What is your website going to look like? Building your social following and all the connection points that you are going to need.
And then you are going to need to create products that reflect these things. There is no point creating a product that doesn’t match your brand, as your customers will be confused and you won’t sell them. I benefited from doing my branding early on, before designing the product. It helped me see my product and the elements needed to be consistent with the branding and what my desired customer would like.
Do you have a favourite tip or strategy that you learned during the process?
Put time into your branding, it really has equipped me to launch my label when my products were ready. My branding has really helped me to feel confident going to the market with my product. It really does help you with your social media presence and the overall professionalism of your label.
My biggest tip is don’t sweat the small things. I think they can easily consume you and it can be easy to lead to a negative experience and ultimately an outcome that you are not happy with. Look for the positive in everything. After all, it is a learning process, and these can lead to a much better outcome anyway.
You have to keep reminding yourself about the end game. Yes, it may take a little bit longer, but that is just the way it is. It’s really easy to get excited about getting your product out there, but if everything isn’t ready, then it isn’t ready.
Where can people find Love Jessie?
On my website – https://lovejessie.com.au/