Fiona Roberts owner of Strebor Clothing
Adelaide based Fiona Roberts is a teacher by day and an artist every other spare moment who was looking for that outlet to help share her passion. A range of expressive, easy to wear, size inclusive women’s wear was the ideal way for this to happen. But Fiona tells us that it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Before working with Sample Room, Fiona tried off-shore, working with a local agent. But the frustration of making a mistake and not realising until the next sample was sent out and the ever-growing cost of shipping things back and forth took their toll. The first range was launched, but Fiona wasn’t completely happy with the outcome.
Now an active member of the Fashion Label Launchpad community, Fiona has found her voice again, and hasn’t she made a splash!
What is your range about? What makes it unique?
My range is really about my artwork, which is a bit scary.
It depends on who you are comparing it to. There are a lot of brands out there which are colourful, but are not using their own artwork. There are a lot out there catering for the larger sizes, and also Australian made, so I’m not unique there. But marrying all that to the artwork that I produce in my little tiny studio in my house in Adelaide is unique.
Who is it for?
Well, it’s for women who like to wear colourful, crazy clothing. Not crazy outlandish, but crazy prints. It’s all unique. I like to think it is for women who are working in places that need a little colour, you know, someone working with children, in children’s medicine, a whole range of niche markets, like a librarian or simply someone that wants a little bit more of a concept, a little bit of quirk in their world. I’d imagine it would appeal to the 30-45 year young range, but I think it would also appeal to someone with some idiosyncrasies.
How did the Fashion Label Launchpad help?
It [Fashion Label Launchpad] was a bit of a game changer. I learned some things along the way doing my first range and I didn’t really know what to expect here. The first time through, with China, it was not supportive, not informative. I needed someone to do my second round and found Sample Room and the Fashion Label Launchpad. I was like “oh, this sounds really interesting”. It gave me the things that I needed to know. So, I could do the next range and actually improve upon what I had already done. The improvements were huge. It made me realise that I wasn’t really happy with it [the first range]. My whole second round was so much better. There was a bit of an investment to get there, but it was a good investment. It was what I needed.
What was your biggest ‘aha’ moment?
I can’t really think of an ‘aha’ moment, per se, I think it was lots of moments that kind of just opened my eyes a little bit more. And then, when I finally got my styles on [the website], this is why I did what I did with Sample Room. The quality was exceptional, the support was spot on, because I needed a bit of support, because I do get a little self-conscious and anxious. There was not one particular moment, but it was an accumulation.
Do you get nervous putting your artwork out there?
Yes, it’s always a bit nerve wracking. It’s a bit of an insight into my brain. If people want to know about me, they can look at my stuff!
Did you change your business at all during this process?
No, I stuck to my guns. I knew what I needed to do, especially with sizes. It is more expensive to do sizes 6 – 22 rather than the standard 8 – 16, or whatever normal is. I’m glad I stuck to my guns with that, because that’s 85% of my orders. From my (re) launch, it was the 16-18’s that were the significant sales. Otherwise, I have just refined things a little through speaking with Sample Room.
What is the one thing that most people don’t know, but you wish your customers knew about your brand?
It’s interesting, when I go to markets, a lot of people’s first impression is – “oh, do you have a store somewhere?” No, this is all I have. I wish people knew it was just me in my spare room, doing my thing. I do like markets, but my partner helped me with the website, so I have the 24/7 presence and it looks very professional. But it was literally made by my partner and I.
What is the biggest thing you have learned while working through the development process?
Making mistakes is necessary. For my first garment, I thought I knew what I wanted, but it wasn’t what I wanted. It was pretty awful. And because I didn’t have any idea, I really just knew half of what I wanted. It was kind of a black hole for me.
My taste is a bit quirky so I have had to make it a bit more commercial, for more people.
What would you tell someone who was hesitant about doing the Fashion Label Launchpad?
Even when doing the Fashion Label Launchpad, there is so much more to know. But that is ok, as you are supported. You are paying money to be supported through the process and I think this is the most valuable thing. I don’t know all the nitty gritty, but it doesn’t matter because the Sample Room team are there to support you. If people don’t do it, they are missing out.
Where can people get your wonderful styles?
I do some markets in Adelaide, but everything is online here www.streborclothing.com.au