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Small businesses dress for success with grand designs on the Gold Coast

Home-grown designers are making their mark on the fashion industry, wit the Gold Coast front and centre.

Jun 20, 2023, updated Jun 23, 2023
Olas Supply Co

Olas Supply Co

For Joel and Nicole Fairclough, theirs is literally and figuratively a rags-to-riches tale.

Joel, 35 a former plumber, and Nicole, 29, who worked in the insurance industry, started their clothing company Olas Supply Co. in 2016.

“We didn’t even own a credit card and we started the business with $10,000. Now our turnover is roughly a million-dollar business,” Joel said.

“We are doubling our turnover every single month since last year.”

After travelling through Central and South America for 12 months, the couple moved to Indonesia to start their business, sourcing and designing their first range in Bali.

But they moved back to the Gold Coast – where Joel had lived since the age of around six, initially selling their clothing at The Village Markets at Burleigh Heads.

Their first online orders were posted from the garage of their Burleigh Heads apartment.

Joel and Nicole Fairclough

These days, they boast their own warehouse and stock their label nationwide.

Not surprisingly, the brand draws inspiration from their travels and is focused on travel, adventure and fun using comfortable, quality, breathable materials with designs which give a nod to ocean living.

T-shirts are cheeky, with slogans such as “I Hate People”; “We’re On Smoko”; and “Strewth Mate”.

You’ll also find plenty of playsuits in the female range, cool button up shirts in the male range, and long sleeve “Bin Chicken” shirts in the mini range.

Olas Supply fashion

“There is meaning behind out brand. We are just not another person selling clothes on a website. Our point of difference is our laidback Aussie humour,” Joel said.

“Everybody is doing business on the Gold Coast. If you look at the creative hub in Burleigh Heads itself. There are multi-million-dollar e-commerce businesses left, right and centre.

“Our end goal is to grow into southern California. It is like living on the Gold Coast. It could be mid-winter and you can drive two hours inland and go snowboarding or go to the coast and go surfing on the same day. It sort of resonates with the Gold Coast lifestyle.”

Nat V Basics

Underwear makers Nat V Basics also purport to be a “brand with purpose” after founder Sandy Ronalds recognised it was the least likely category of clothing to be bought second hand and one of the biggest culprits when it comes to unethical and sustainable practices.

Ronalds, 38, launched the label makes “just comfy, good old knickers” and crop tops in 2019.

“I was trying to find underwear that was comfortable. I don’t want to wear sexy underwear every day and I also wanted it to be good for the planet,” she said.

“We kicked off with three items – Cheeky G, Callie Brief, and Classic Brief and it just started to grow.”

And grow it has, posting a 157 per cent increase in its turnover to $4.84m in the past financial year with a staff of just five.

“I love the Gold Coast and it is great to bring little start-ups here. We’ve got a nice creative space on the Gold Coast and some really cool brands,” Ronalds said.

“You’re not in a big city nor are you in a small town. There is a lot of opportunity for growth here.

“It just seems to be buzzing.”

Nat V Basics Sandy Ronalds and models

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Ronalds said the typical buyer of her product was a woman in their late 30s to 40s but “we are for everyone”, values she demonstrates through her diversity of underwear models.

Nat V Basics also boasts a long list of rigorous standards including environmentally responsible practices; Human Rights protections; supporting the less fortunate; and learning and sharing knowledge.

Production is sustainable and ethical; designed by women, for women and non-binary people; vegan, cruelty-free fabrics; natural, safe and toxin fee; and working towards a sustainable supply chain.

Even the packaging is environmentally friendly with all ink used on products soy based; tissue paper acid free and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and mailers made from certified compostable material.

“We’ve always been pretty focused on making sure we are as inclusive as we can be,” Ronalds said.

As for future plans?

“We’d like to move to bigger premises and are looking for external investors to help us grow the business,” she said.

“One day we want to be one of those $20m a year brands so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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