Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

The entrepreneur taking a casual approach to fashion

After a decade growing and perfecting her eponymous fashion label, Mela Purdie is launching a new line of beach and after-five wear for women on-the-go. 

Purdie has come a long way since starting her business with two rolls of fabric she purchased on a credit card. Her collection is now stocked in over 200 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and she is still expanding with the recent launch of Me I Am.

We spoke to the coincidental entrepreneur about building her multi-million dollar clothing empire and discuss her future plans.

What inspired you to start your business?
I was travelling a lot at the time and saw a gap in the market for quality stretch basics that were perfect to pack and a great start to make dressing easy on the move. I realised that six basic shapes could give you a multitude of looks. These essential shapes became my best selling styles and are still in the range today.

How was your range embraced by the fashion world?
The versatile nature of my body basics were greatly admired for their quality. The matte jersey fabric I used was perfect for all occasions and all seasons. These qualities made my clothes great for packing and wearing all year. The fabric draped and without clinging and was figure flattering for all shapes and sizes.

Can you tell us about your experience as a woman in the business world. Does it help to be female in your industry?
When I started my business I built the brand slowly and financed the production myself. Not having to deal with banks and financial backers gave me the independence to make my own plans and decisions as required. There was never a need to report to a board or be answerable to a bank. Being a female in my area of fashion helps me to appreciate the needs women have for everyday dressing and, as a working mother with heavy demands on my time, easy dressing with built-in style is essential.

What is the least glamorous aspect of your business?
In my area of fashion styles must fit a wide range of body types and sizes, and this often requires a lot of compromise in design. Sometimes fashion details that we all love and admire must be abandoned for a more practical and cost-effective approach. It is very tempting to use a wide variety of luxury fabrics and trims and create fabulous pieces that look great on the hanger but just don’t sell due to fit and lack of comfort.

What’s the most challenging thing about your industry?
Lead-times from wholesale to production to delivery are crucial in today’s competitive market. Producing good quality product and delivering on time is the hardest part of my work. Fabrics can take up to sixty days to produce and ship and manufacturing can take weeks. With our limited time frame from wholesale to dispatch the pressure of ordering without waste can be very stressful.

Are there any entrepreneurs you look up to?
I admire anyone in business that is truly passionate about their product and produces something of quality with a purpose that really works. This energy will always motivate and inspire the people you work with and lead to a successful business with longevity. Whether it’s the local coffee shop or a big corporation I think quality product and dedicated customer service are the key ingredients.

What tips would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always use your honest intuition and instincts. If you truly believe in something the answers to all the issues and decisions are often obvious. It’s also not a bad thing to change course or change your mind. The best projects often need fine tuning and redirecting at some stage of development. It’s crucial to have a plan and good systems so that projects are properly followed through and goals are achieved.

Any plans for global expansion?
I am developing an online business with my new label Me I Am which will allow for global expansion. It’s early days for us but I believe the “beach to after five” concept that we are developing is highly sought after by the everyday traveller. These special pieces are fast becoming the new essentials in our wardrobe.

What’s next for you?
My to do list is endless but next is redefining the essential wardrobe !

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Mike Mrkic

Mike Mrkic

Mike Mrkic is the social web editor of Dynamic Business. He looks after our social media and web content. Mike has considerable experience in journalism and social media management working for companies like Channel V, Music Max, Sydney Star Observer and Idolator.

View all posts