Three years into building her career as a fashion designer, Penelope Efthimiadis found her business growing rapidly. She needed a website that looked professional, reflected her personality as a designer and had room for extra content as the label expanded. And that’s where The Hope Factory came into the picture.
Tell us about your business – Penelope Efthimiadis – P.E.
I’m a woman’s wear designer. My main thing is leather handbags and leather goods but once a year I do a women’s collection. I studied at uni in 2007 but I did it at a high school and I’ve always been around seamstresses, including my grandmother.
What makes it different?
My point of difference as a designer is that I’m an artisan. So, in terms of the clothing, I make the clothes and I sell those clothes. The whole idea is that the customer gets a one-off item, which is how I like it to run. It’s more individual – I’m not making a production run – the customer gets an original one-off from me. I like to work with my customers so it’s an open relationship. So, if someone wants something specifically I can work with them but that always comes at a cost because of the artisan approach the clothing.
What’s the most useful piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Patience, persistence and determination. And stick to your guns. My dad gave me that advice and it’s important because that’s how it is. Everything happens in its time so you just keep on doing what you’re doing. In the past I’ve done things in a way that maybe other people would think would be good but it hasn’t turned out that way for me. If you do it your way you win and lose your way and that’s it, really. People’s advice is really important but at the end of the day you’ve got to make a decision that’s best for you in what you’re able to achieve at that time.
Who or what inspires you?
When it comes to designing clothes my inspiration is fabric-based. Because I’m limited with fabric when I create a design, when I create a concept I go there first because they are my limitations. I look at what fabrics I’ve got and what era they inspire and I go from there. For example, I used quite a couture fabric this season and all my fabrics reminded me of a garden party because they were all very colourful and different. I thought, ‘I’ve been to a few picnics this year, maybe that’s something I should go with’. So, I guess it’s just really my life and what I do and those types of things. I love Italian fabrics, I’m very Italian inspired and anything chic I like. I’ve got expensive tastes unfortunately, which is why I make quality garments because that’s what I like to look at and that’s how I like to dress.
What are some of your favourite tools or apps and why?
Adobe In Design is the best program in the world. Actually, Adobe in general because I use every program in the suite. It’s a very important as a business owner – you’re creating PDFs everyday, whether it’s layouts or look books line sheets or mood boards, it’s all done through those programs.
What’s the most valuable metric used in your business?
My customer wants to feel confident so it’s a lifetime thing. The problem isn’t the admin, the problem is finding the customer. It’s getting out there, it’s people knowing who you are – that’s the hard part. It’s the networking. Are you on the right track as a designer? Well, yeah, I feel like I am. But it’s getting your feelers out there. It’s a slow process but I like it as well because it gives me time to grow.
What did The Hope Factory help you with?
Our website. I gave them a few ideas of what I wanted and then we went with that. They gave me an updated version of what I already had. More content for the site…I needed that because were growing. People liked it when it was launched [and] they loved the video, which is something that we made a feature. The fact that we make things is a big part of my brand and that it is made here in Australia and all of that was filmed here. The Hope Factory said, ‘looking at the business this is something that we want to make a feature’ and I didn’t think I really wanted to do it in the beginning but I’m happy we went down that path. The website went live at the end of February 2015.
What’s the best marketing decision you’ve made?
States of Style (@statesofstyleaus) is a really great ambassador for P.E on Instagram. They would be the main collab with me. They are huge supporters and wear the label out and promote us and are always encouraging. That would be one of the best marketing initiatives we’ve had and we still work with them.
What is your next big business challenge?
Growing. It may be going internationally, that something I’m working on at the moment with an overseas stockist.
What should I have asked you that I didn’t?
I’m still in the fearless stage, I’m pretty young. What have I learned about the fashion business? I’ve learned to be patient and calm, not get ahead of yourself and to adjust to do what you can it’s about working really hard which is what I always do.
Image credit – John DP Photography