The Watson sisters Liberty and Somer started their high-end fashion brand, Watson X Watson, in 2011 and quickly found success. Their Australian-made clothes were a wholesale hit and came to be stocked in over 100 stores.
However, wholesale proved challenging, with cash flow a big issue, and so the pair decided to restructure their business and start their own retail stores.
They now have two locations, in Sydney’s Mosman and Paddington, with a Bondi store imminent and plans to take the label interstate (to Melbourne) and international (LA and New York).
“That’s our growth plan over the next few years,” Liberty Watson told Retailbiz. “We used to do wholesale…but cash flow wise and for our business, it made sense to open our own retail stores.
“We found customers weren’t getting a high level of service [in the stockists]. With our stores we have more control.”
Image via Instagram.
Watson said cash flow has always been a problem for the brand, as it is for many small businesses. This was made more difficult by stockists failing to pay their accounts on time, but the sisters took a characteristically kind approach to the problem.
“If people owed us money, instead of sending debt collectors we would send a fancy box of chocolates and say: ‘Hey it would be really sweet if you could pay us’,” said Watson.
“I stuck to what my mum taught me—‘kill them with kindness’—and people really reacted to that.
“Our brand ethos is that work should be a fun part of our lives. We do things nicely and ethically. It’s a quality brand, and so service was super important to us.”
Now running their own stores, this personalised customer service is a cornerstone of the Watson X Watson brand, as the sister’s believe that a high-end product means customers expect high-end service.
To help with this, Watson has partnered with Optus on the launch of the telco’s Optus Loop platform.
Aimed at small businesses, it helps retailers offer a high level of customer service even when they’re on the go.
“Most of my job running a business is on the phone and it’s frustrating to miss a call,” said Watson. “This new product allows me to answer calls in-store then transfer to my mobile with ease.
“I’m also terrible at voicemail—I never listen to it. With Optus Loop they come through as an email, which makes things easier.
“Business tools like this help us give a more well-rounded service for our customers, and it’s our customers who let us live out our dreams.”
Image via Instagram.
Offering an amazing product to customers is something Watson and her sister are particularly passionate about.
“My sister really big on quality product,” she said. “It’s really expensive to make things here and the margins are not very big, but we really believe in it.
“There’s so much fun that goes along with having a label—dressing celebrities, fashion week, larger than life crowds attending your shows…
“But for me personally, the most rewarding part is dressing someone who is feeling a bit under confident, maybe after having a baby, and we dress them and they feel better. It’s about lifting people’s spirits.”
As the brand grows, Watson is holding on to her positive outlook and the belief that success is “all in the attitude”.
“There are days that you’ll feel like you’re not cut out for it, but those days show you what you’re made of,” she said.
“There were days we wanted to give up, but we’d invested too much time and money to do that. We pushed through and I’m so glad—we created something beautiful.
“If you think it’ll take five years it will take 10, if you think it’ll take 10 years it will be 15. Don’t get too disheartened with moments of semi failure—rise above them, pick yourself up and try again.”
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