Talking about the business of fashion

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do my first live in-person talk in almost exactly 2 years. Usually I feel nervous before talks but this time I was so excited!

It was a networking event hosted by Her Business Collective, with a fashion theme. Her Business Collective is a South Australian group which supports women in business in regional communities. It was held at Eldredge’s winery (the Clare Valley is a wine area) on an open verandah at their cellar door.

Sure, networking went on, but take a roomful of women of all ages, add wine and delicious food and a fashion parade, and you can’t help but have a great time!

There were two other speakers, Sheri and Emily.

Me in black, Sheri in pink and Emily in blue. Photo by Meg Mader source.

Sheri Dixon has two businesses. She’s a personal stylist and also co-owns Lalt Collective, a much-loved shop in Clare stocking fashion, homewares and accessories for women, children and babies. And fashion books 🙂 She talked about her interest in fashion, her love of helping women see the potential of their own wardrobes and how she started the shop, from markets to a pop-up shop to the current shop. She shared how the pandemic has affected her retail sales and stock.

Emily Riggs owns Iris & Wool, a knitwear brand using Australian merino wool. Emily lives on a sheep farm in nearby Burra. She had us wiping our leaky eyes as she shared her story of being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 10 at the same time as her mum was battling breast cancer. Her mum sadly died the following year at age 43. Emily described how fashion gave her a creative outlet and helped other people look past the illness that defined her life at such a young age. She shared about how she started her business, using PR and influencers, her merino denim jeans and business/family life.

The event started with a fashion parade of Emily’s knitwear, styled with garments from Lalt. (Later in the afternoon the rack of knitwear was wheeled in and we got to see it up close – it’s superbly soft and beautiful.)

After that we each talked individually about our business journey. I talked about working in the fashion industry as a patternmaker, moving sideways in my career after we moved to the country, zero waste patterncutting (of course!), independent publishing and how the pandemic has influenced sewing and making.

I wore my own patterns (of course): black Cendre top with the sleeves cut longer, and linen maxi culottes (pattern out next week).

Then there was a Q&A session with all 3 of us, with some great questions and a lot of hilarity.

It’s always interesting to hear other people’s stories of how they started their businesses and what they do. If you’re in business, I highly recommend plugging into a business group.


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