Kate Nixon is the founder of Kat The Label, a designer intimates and lingerie brand made to provide women with beautiful, unique and luxe garments that they love.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
When studying design at RMIT we did a semester on lingerie, where I absolutely fell in love with the gorgeous fabrics and amazing pieces I was researching. Once I finished that semester I was at home just playing on my machine and made a little lace bralette. I started posting my creations on Instagram to show them off to my friends and random people started commenting trying to purchase them. So I decided to make a bit of a business out of it and here we are!
How did you get your business started?
After I realized there was demand for my product and people actually wanted to buy it, I decided it was time to give it a proper shot. After graduating RMIT I moved to Byron Bay for a job in menswear working on production and offshore manufacturing. It was there I developed the skills to communicate with international factories and sourcing offshore, and applied this to my own business. Eventually, I found a factory who could make my designs beautifully and soon manufactured my first range with them.
The online side of things and sales sort of took care of itself, as I had already built up a small Instagram following and launched a self-made website. Boutiques started contacting me about wholesaling to them and so I decided to start stocking my bralettes in select stores across Australia and New Zealand and it all has really grown from there.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
So far I have learnt that it’s impossible to be good at everything. When I lack a skill I realized it’s quicker and cheaper, in the long run, to hire an expert to help out (for example accounting, tax stuff and sewing garments). I have learnt it’s important to play to my strengths and not dwell on my weaknesses.
How important for you has it been to have a mentor?
My mentor Julie has been amazing. She worked with the founders of Country Road in the very early days and knows so much about the industry. Her experience and advice are invaluable so working with her has really helped systemise my business and set me on a path towards future growth. It’s so beneficial to have someone to call or lean on when things don’t go so smoothly and is always there for advice - particularly when you are running your business solo and sometimes need a little guidance or a push in the right direction. A vote of confidence always helps too!
What are your top 3 tips for starting a business?
1. Product to Market Fit.
Make sure you have a product that people actually want or need to buy! It is so much harder starting a business with something no one is going to purchase. Doing this on Instagram in the early stages was really vital for my growth so far.
2. Be Unique.
I have seen so many copycat start-up bralette labels on Instagram and it’s always the same thing: products directly imported from China with no imagination, in cheap lace with the same designs over and over. My point of difference is my unique designs and original fabrics, things people have never seen before. Don’t copy other people, your uniqueness is what makes you awesome so always work that.
3. Keep Persistent.
If running a business was always smooth and easy everyone would be doing it. Remember to keep persistent even on the hard days, because it’s going to be worth it in the long run. The best quote I’ve heard and always refer to on the tough days is"‘a year from now you’ll wish you started". Be proactive and don’t give up!
Kate Nixon is a graduate of Bachelor of Applied Science (Fashion/Apparel Design) 2013. She is willing to answer your questions about starting a new business. Find her in the Members section.
'If running a business was always smooth and easy everyone would be doing it.' Kate Nixon - Founder of Kat The Label