Glitter and Dance
“I was a dancer for 15 years and Mum used to make my costumes,” Cassandra remembers.
“We realised there was a gap in the market for the kinds of fabrics you need to make great quality performance costumes and started importing lycra and spandex.”
The sisters now employ four additional staff to help them meet a demand which has seen them become Australia’s leading supplier for major musicals, TV dance shows, Australian film and theatre productions (including Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby), and remain the driving force behind their mother’s brainchild, with Carly heading up the business’ marketing and social media operations.
“Our strengths are very different but that means we collaborate well,” they concur.
“We’re best friends as well as sisters and when you work with your family you can just say it as it is!”
Cassandra herself has an 11-year-old daughter who could yet see the business pass to its third generation of family.
“She’s already dancing and keen to be involved,” Cassandra enthuses… “I’m going to get Mum to teach her how to sew!”
What is your greatest business learning?
We feel that we learn something new about our business and ourselves every day, and I think this is the key to success to always be ready and open to learn something new about an industry you think you know so well. With the rate that technology is changing, we need to continuously upskill to keep our business innovative, our staff motivated and our customer satisfied.
What is your greatest business success?
We have business success every day we reach a new customer, but one of our greatest moments was winning the Telstra Micro Small Business Award for Queensland in 2014, and in the same year supplying fabrics for So You Think You Can Dance on Channel 10, and then again with Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom: The Musical.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- A willingness to work hard and love what you do!
- Understanding of budgets and cash flow
- Research the industry and know your niche/competitors
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Nothing – we love every step of the way, some things have been more successful than others but we generally learn so much from these events.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Word of mouth consistently gives us the best results – nothing compares to an over-satisfied customer who markets your business to their contacts. We also keep our website as up to date as possible, we are constantly working on it.
Where have you sought business advice?
We have worked over the years with different business advisors who have added some great innovative elements and actually make us stop and take the time to look at the business while we are not working in it. We constantly read books and journals to keep informed with what is happening in the world.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
Know when it is time to grow is and when it is time to focus on what you are doing well. There is a fine line to over-investing before the time is right. Sometimes you need to just water the seed. We see far too often how over-investment can put a lot of strain on a business.
How do you manage risk?
We constantly re-evaluative our buying strategy, forecasts and the USD to make sure we always understand exactly where we sit with our business. By being completely informed, we manage our risk well.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
Having a plan is paramount – it is the path to get to somewhere. Without a plan it’s hard to create team direction, and to motivate and innovate. I wouldn’t get too caught up in spending months on a plan however – it can be as simple as something jotted down on a serviette. Plans need to grow and change as the industry and team changes – sometimes spending months on a plan seems crazy as they are quickly obsolete.