Jess Haley didn't have any experience with kid's clothing, except for having two (now three!) boys that were tall and skinny. Frustrated with the lack of clothing for her boys, she took it upon herself to create an entire line of new children's wear, especially for the taller kids like her own. We sat down with Jess pre-launch last September to understand how and why Frankie + Roy was born.
What challenges do you think you’ve faced in starting your own small business?
Not knowing the industry at all, is a major challenge. My background is retail and sports events. So actually having to learn something from scratch and trust people and research, that definitely was huge. I’ve being open to meeting new people and actually listening to what they say though. Manufacturers, and fabric agents, they’ve been in the industry for years, so they’ve got good advice.
What advice would you give to women who want to start their own business?
Definitely research, find a niche. A lot of people are doing exactly the same thing. And that’s all well and good, but I think to be successful you’ve got to have that difference. I think for me having the difference in clothing and style and quality has been definitely my niche.
In terms of support for small business, especially women, do you think there’s enough out there?
No. Trying to even find little courses, things like that, there wasn’t anything. I’ve done a couple of things online, being listening to a lot of podcasts that seem to help, but there’s still a lot of questions that you come up with. And local, everything seems to be in Melbourne. That’s all fine, but it is very hard 2-hour round trip.
What was your reasoning for starting Frankie & Roy?
Slim fit clothing and quality. I was over constantly taking in the waistlines of pants for my boys, which I had to do to get the correct length for them, and always find tops that were too big and look like tents. My boys are tall and slim and there is nothing out there that fits them correctly. My other reason for starting FR is quality. There is a serious lack of quality clothing that keeps it’s shape. Remember when clothing kept its shape and you could pass it down to your next child?
Tell us about how you started up
My husband basically said, do your research. Once I started researching it, I realised I couldn’t just take a top and say, ‘can you make it?’ and that’s when I found the course I did. Once I found that course, and realised I wanted to manufacture my own stuff. There we’re a few hurdles, and stuff but I didn’t want to rush. That was my major thing. I didn’t want to put something out there that I wasn’t happy with. So, I’m happy with how long it has taken me. I’m pretty comfortable now. There have being a few times where I thought ‘oh my god what am I doing?’ It hasn’t been too bad. The more I get into the business the more I’ve loved it. And I think it’s that passion that keeps me going.
Did you expect the amount of workload?
No. Oh my god, no. I wish I’d written a sheet of everything I’ve had to do. I didn’t realise how much I needed to know about marketing, social media, design, the list just goes on. That’s where research has had to happen. There’s just so much more to a business you don’t realise. I look back over the past 12 months and think ‘wow.’ There was a lot to take in. That stuff is hard because you do have to do stuff while they’re (her children) asleep.
Were you a bit overwhelmed by the support when you hadn’t even released yet?
Completely. You have an idea, and in your head, you’re like ‘everyone’s going to love it’ and then you start to question, and then to have people actually contact you that have decent Instagram followers, and that are becoming a public figure, contact you going ‘My child needs your clothes’, it makes you go ‘Oh ok, I’m on the right path.’
You can find Frankie + Roy's collection here!