After spending four years working at L’Oreal Luxe marketing high-end brands like Yves Saint Lauren and Giorgio Armani, Sophie Doyle knew she was ready for something different. What she didn’t know was that a trip to India would set her on a new path and inspire her to found fashion label The Fable.
“I didn’t have a plan to start my own business,” Doyle told Retailbiz. “I was taking some time off visiting Jaipur and encountered the region’s thick, durable and high-quality silk, which I knew would fill a gap in the market for quality silk at an affordable price point.
“I was also inspired by the kind local people I met and saw an opportunity to provide them with job opportunities.”
Doyle decided she would use the silk to create the perfect women’s shirt that was also affordable. She spent eight months travelling between Australia and India on this fashion mission, and ended up with a range of handmade silk shirts that retail for $130.
Everything is made in India by a team of 13 employees and shipped directly to customers, which keeps prices low.
“Every element of the shirts is made by hand, right down to button dye, by a small team of select artisans who specialise in their chosen field,” said Doyle.
“They are then carefully packaged in luxurious tissue paper lined boxes and sent directly to our customers from India.
“The lack of a middle man in our production process enables us to retail the shirts at an affordable price and provide our customers with free and efficient three-day delivery.”
The story sells the product
While other fashion labels are struggling, since launching in October 2015 The Fable has achieved a 600 per cent growth in income.
Doyle puts this success down to her company’s strong point of difference—it’s story.
“Any company can have a good return policy and easy-to-navigate website, but if you don’t have something that clearly distinguishes your brand from the crowd, it’s all for nothing,” she said.
“I believe the modern consumer is more conscious of global inequalities and wants to ensure the clothing they wear is an ethical choice, a desire The Fable caters to.”
Supporting the Indian craftspeople who make The Fable shirts is extremely important to Doyle.
“Having lived in India and seen first-hand the difficult lives people lead I felt it was crucial to ensure the shirt tailors were looked after,” she said.
“Our brand is involved in every step of the manufacturing process and only employs the services of small, family run businesses.
“Our employees work in good quality conditions and are paid nearly twice the Indian living wage, meaning they earn enough money to support their families and live comfortably.”
Know your weaknesses
After deciding to start a fashion business, Doyle had to learn an entirely new set of skills, from pattern making to factory production processes. She said understanding her weaknesses, and how to address them, has been extremely important.
“The added responsibility that comes with owning a business also presents a challenge.
“If something goes wrong it becomes your problem. I’ve found adopting a solutions mindset day-to-day to be invaluable in the practical running of The Fable.”
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