While it may seem straightforward to identify a perceived market gap, it’s quite another to build a thriving business plugging it.
“SIR was born from this creative collaborative desire, along with our identification of a gap in the market for basic wardrobe essentials,” explains SIR the Label’s cofounder Sophie Coote. “We design mainly based on what we feel is missing from our own wardrobes.”
Considering the fervour with which the public has accepted the label, it seems that SIR fills a gap in wardrobes the country over. Evolving “organically” from the samples Sophie and her cofounder, Nikkie Campbell, created for their own wardrobes, the first collection was accompanied by careful, considered branding. “Building the brand was of great importance to us, so a lot of time was spent on the aesthetic and marketing of SIR.”
Even before the launch of SIR, both designers had a solid footing in the industry – Sophie has extensive experience in styling and Nikki is well-versed in fashion wholesale – making for the perfect platform from which to launch.
“The most important transferable skills we have taken as founders would be problem solving and decision making,” Sophie explains. “In fashion, the market and climate is changing continually, so being able to alleviate issues and make quick decisions is imperative to success or survival.”
Furthermore, the brand is also still completely investor-free – a choice influenced by the pair’s desire to keep some semblance of creative control over their brand.
“SIR is completely self-funded,” Sophie confirms. “This project was a passion for the both of us. We really wanted to have complete control over every aspect of the business.”
Despite the extensive base knowledge of the founders, there were still areas of unfamiliarity.
“International manufacturing was a foreign concept to both of us, so we just really had to put ourselves out there and trust our intuition as much as possible,” Sophie explains. “We knew what fabrications we wanted to work with and spent a lot of time sourcing the right contacts and suppliers; we were lucky to have a few key mentors and friends in the industry who assisted us with introductions.”
The rapid growth of the brand with a still-small team has forced the girls to get familiar with making trade-off decisions.
“It is easy to get carried away when the business is so young and creatively we have so many ideas, however with a small team there is only so much we can do. So the biggest challenge has been choosing which areas we want to focus our growth.”
International proliferation of the brand has been a particularly rewarding outcome of their focus: the pair has since welcomed an American agent to the fold, and are now trading in more than 50 US-based boutiques.
But with any new challenge, decisions are made that much easier by the strong partnership between the founders. “We also bounce everything off each other and feel lucky to be in a partnership as we couldn’t imagine it any other way,” Sophie confirms. “We have always been close friends, so this sister-like relationship has meant we chat all day, every day, and bounce every idea off each other. We have lived together, worked together, travelled together; for the first two years of SIR we were literally inseparable and both agree we wouldn’t be able to do it solo. We both value each other’s support and it makes even the challenging days fun.”