Five minutes with the Founder | Rae Feather
In this new series, we take five minutes with the founders of our 2018 Brands of Tomorrow to shine a light on the personality and the motivation behind these new British luxury brands. This month, we spoke with Rae Feather, founder of her eponymous accessories brand, on how and why she founded Rae Feather, where she hopes to be in 10 years, and what she might be doing in an alternative life.
Tell us about Rae Feather…
At Rae Feather, we believe in bringing a little joy to the simple things in life. Designed for work, play and everything in between, Rae Feather creates luxury accessories that become a faithful friend, whatever the occasion.
Tell us the story of how you built your brand…
Rae Feather launched in 2013.
I felt there was a void in the market for a considered, quality, and affordable range of women’s clothing.
The range consisted of shirting, cottons, cashmere and linens. It was beautiful, gentle, classic and most of all, affordable. The brand started off well with the majority of sales generated via our e-platform. We had intended to be solely online however this proved hugely challenging from a production perspective. The factories we worked with, whilst being supportive, simply could not work on such small volumes.
Three seasons in, our range was vast and we didn’t have the customer base or brand integrity to support the size of the collections. As a result, our expenditure in design and development became excessive. Cost of production got out of whack and we found ourselves with excessive inventory which led to poor cash flow.
In Summer 2014 I decided to experiment with a small accessories collection. This proved to be an instant success and overnight the brand became something completely different. A few images were posted on social media and suddenly the brand took on a whole new identity. Many had seen us as safe and simple and not looked upon as a luxury fashion brand. The accessories introduced us to a fashion and trend driven audience. An audience that is brand/fashion aware and understands or aspires to own luxury. This is really where the story begins. We made the decision in Summer 2015 to cease ready-to-wear and concentrate on accessories.
We entered the market by recreating the simple straw basket into the absolute must have beach accessory, with many international luxury brands taking inspiration from our creations. Simple, beautiful pieces enhanced with hand painted monograms, stripes, images, pompoms, and tassels proved to be a strong commercial offering and in addition, attracted a great deal of press coverage and social media attention.
We focus heavily on the artisan aspect of our brand. Not only with the addition of hand painted monogramming but also with the sourcing of the product. The majority of our product is handmade and has a fair-trade element to it, however, this is not something that we have heavily publicised.
Today Rae Feather is at the early stages of becoming an all year-round luxury resort brand. With the heart of the brand focusing on being the “go to” brand to shop before travelling. This year we added to our offering by launching a collection of beach slides, panama hats, towels and a small collection of beachwear. All of which proved to be very well received.
Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
I set up in the luxury sector because:
a. I see what I sell as luxury
b. Its impossible to compete with the likes of Zara, Primark etc.
c. Middle market is difficult as there is always a question mark as to whether you can buy something similar in Zara or do you upscale and buy luxury…
What is your favourite thing about your job?
The creative side of what I do if my favourite. I love seeing an idea coming to fruition.
What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
Oh gosh I am inspired by so many! I love the brand Missoni. I love the way they use colour to create beautiful pieces. I love the simplicity of Chanel, I love Gucci for their originality yet they stay true to themselves quality wise. Motivation is tricky at times. I am the sole owner of Rae Feather and constant motivation is challenging. I remove myself and think of so many women I know who basically just get on with it and don’t complain!
If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
A Country and Western singer for sure. Dolly Feather!!!
If you could do something differently in your career what would it be?
I would have asked more questions and asked from help for people I know have more experience than me. It could have aided me in areas where I made some very expensive mistakes!
Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?
I started my brand in my late 40’s. We’ve come a long way in a short time but I’d hope in 10 years time to have moved on. As for Rae Feather, I hope the brand continues to grow.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is really personal. I see success and achievement as the same thing. I want to feel proud of what I have achieved. When I truly feel that, I will feel successful.
What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Gosh, take it really slowly. Don’t rush and don’t grow too fast. Listen to your gut and if your gut senses it’s not right, it probably isn’t. In addition, learn from your mistakes. Try not to make the same mistakes over and over again. Finally, to enjoy the ride!