Felicity Rodgers & Narelle Craig
Felicity Rodgers and Narelle Craig are sisters, RMIT graduates and the women behind Cargo Crew - the Modern Uniform.
From Gwyneth Paltrow to top culinary entrepreneurs, the brand is winning fans around the world.
How did you get your business started?
Our businesses started in 2002 as me in our one bedroom flat in Clifton Hill with a $2000 tax return to help fund my first job. Prior to this I had studied Fashion Design at RMIT and straight from university began a fashion label with a fellow student.
We developed the label over five years, participating in The Melbourne Fashion Festival Young Designer parade and wholesaled our range nationwide to independent boutiques.
It was during this time we were approached by businesses to design and produce fashionable uniforms and from this I recognised a niche in the uniform market that I decided to fill.
I worked solo for six years with the support of my husband Paul working behind the scenes helping me establish systems and packing orders at night when our children were in bed. In 2008 my sister Narelle joined me in the business after working in London for several years.
Narelle completed a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Advertising at RMIT and she brought her experience in client service to our business. My husband Paul came on board full-time in 2013 and now manages operations for Cargo Crew.
Are there any key moments in your career that really challenged you?
There is not a day that goes by without a challenge. Growing a business from scratch is challenging in many ways as you find that you need to become an expert in so many areas. For us it is about developing a strong team.
Who has been your most influential resource/mentor?
The Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick has always been an inspiration to me. She was a pioneer entrepreneur who created an original and innovative product offering with passion and drive.
Some of the clean and contemporary designs from Cargo Crew.
What has been your greatest career highlight so far?
There are many highlights. Firstly, being told that "an online business for uniforms will never work as many have tried and failed” and proving this is not the case is certainly a highlight.
Secondly, I would say building a brand that people want to wear as a uniform makes us extremely proud.
Thirdly, taking on the international market and being handpicked by international culinary entrepreneur Claus Meyer to outfit his new US venture, Great Northern Food at Grand Central Terminal in New York, along with Gwyneth Paltrow wearing our apron at her Goop beauty launch.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
1. Be passionate about what you are creating and remember to lead don’t follow.
2. Surround yourself with the right people and when the time is right begin building a team of like-minded individuals who understand and fit with the vision for the business.
3. Work hard (and smart) and be nice to people.
Felicity Rodgers is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Design (Fashion) degree, and Narelle Craig is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Communication (Advertising), and are willing to answer your questions about starting a new business. Find them in the Members section.
"Be passionate about what you are creating and remember to lead don’t follow." - Felicity Rodgers - Founder of Cargo Crew.