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Frith Hucks isn’t an artist. Not that you’d know it by looking at her start-up, art-luxe concept label Bay & Fyfe. Launched at the beginning of this year, Hucks collaborates with artists to create art-inspired fashion and homeware pieces.

“I’ve been interested in art for a long time, but I’m not gifted with artistic talents. My skills are in commercial business,” she told Dynamic Business.

“I saw an opportunity to bring my commercial skills to art and collaborate with artists. The idea is to work with artists to develop their art into other areas,” she added.

And her stunning creations have attracted the attention of some well-known Aussie celebrities in the few months since launch. Miranda Kerr, Nicole Kidman as well as Danni and Kylie Minogue are fans of the range, and Europe and the U.S. are next on Hucks’ list to be conquered.

On self-funding and generating opportunities

But despite the famous fans and expansion plans, Hucks said her business faces the same challenges as any other start-up. Bay & Fyfe is fully self-funded by Hucks, which means she personally feels any financial hits.

“The biggest overhead for us is the stock. All our pieces are limited edition so whilst volumes are small, it still takes a hefty toll on the business bank account,” she said.

According to Hucks, cashflow has been another area of difficulty – particularly when it comes to balancing ordering and paying for new stock, when you’re never sure if you’ll make a big enough return to pay for it.

“As a start-up you’re forever taking a punt on what’s going to deliver a return and sometimes it doesn’t work out, so you can expect a few sleepless nights,” she added.

The other big challenge has been to ensure active opportunities are always in the pipeline. Hucks will tell you she gets little rest in this area, spending much of her time thinking about where the next lead is going to come from.

Her secret to managing this has been to work hard to build relationships with online influencers via blogs and social media.

“I’ve worked hard to build an online sales business for Bay & Fyfe from day one. I’ve spent hours contacting bloggers in both fashion and design to tell them about Bay & Fyfe and what we do,” she said.

And while she concedes online marketing activities like social media can be a “time sapper”, it’s delivered some very valuable opportunities to the business.

“We got a big sale from a division of Urban Outfitters in the U.S., via Pinterest. Crazy!”

Going global

International expansion is at the core of Bay & Fyfe’s business model, with Hucks planning to build on the number of stockists around the world who sell her products. First on this list is luxury London boutique Wolf & Badger.

“We’re focusing heavily on the US and Europe over the next six months. There is a trade show in Paris in January and a stunning new silk and wool scarf collection we’re releasing in February,” Hucks said.

“This does take a huge amount of time. I’ve found though, for the same amount of effort I’d put into developing opportunities in Australia, I get better conversion overseas,” she added.

As for other lessons learned, Hucks suggests other start-ups remember not to rely on one plan alone to come off.

“If it does, fantastic, but always have follow plans in the pipeline. In fact I’d go for plan A, B,C and D…”

“Nine out of 10 leads will go nowhere,” she added.

Keep your eyes peeled for Bay & Fyfe’s first furniture concept, which is in development with Daimon Downey.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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