BT Emerging Fashion Design Award winner Kacey Devlin

4 min read

“It was really humbling to be a finalist last year and for all the finalists this year it’s a great opportunity to look at your business and think about ways to be more strategic in looking forward.” 

Kacey Devlin, of label Kacey Devlin, became the fifth winner of the BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award in 2017. She was creative and business savvy before winning the award but since winning the award her business has grown quickly.

The fast growth has resulted in, “I think we’d describe them as growing pains”, Kacey says. “Hopefully in the long-term it’ll be worth the stretch.”

Online luxury retailer FarFetch picked up Kacey Devlin in November 2017. However, Kacey Devlin’s biggest market remains Australia where it distributes through 28 multi-brand independent boutiques Australia-wide.

The label is selling internationally and growth domestically has also been strong.

The label has also landed in the US and Kacey is now regularly selling collections (wholesale) overseas in the US and Europe.

“What’s so great about having diverse distribution avenues is that we’re learning so much about our customers. It’s so important in the early stages of business and helps us tailor our brand and strategy.”

Challenges in 2017

The challenges were financial forecasting, cash management and dealing with foreign currency. Kacey says she has been supported by BT Senior Adviser Louise Rottier who helped put her in contact with others to open a foreign bank account etc. Kacey says she understands that learning about the business side is not a quick fix but a work in progress.

“Winning the award gave me really great confidence to learn that there are a lot of industry leaders in fashion and business who saw something in our concept and point of view of our business and in a practical sense it’s encouraged me as a business owner to look at structure and processes,” Kacey says.

“Ultimately it’s this that helps how growth happens. In our industry growth happens quite quickly so you have to have certain avenues ready to grow.”

Kacey Devlin has been working with a manufacturer in Australia for some time and so they’ve helped the business structure its processes. “It’s important for us to have that side of the business looked after if we have the opportunity to scale,” Kacey says.

Winning the BT Emerging Fashion Designer award

Kacey made the most of the opportunities that the award brings. “It’s been really good, all the elements although sometimes it’s not an instant thing. Some things have been more beneficial as we’ve moved through time,” she says.

“What was great about this award was all the support and mentorship that comes with it. It outweighs the title for me but being connected to this knowledge and expertise is what attracted me to applying for the BT award. It was a whole chapter I didn’t have knowledge in.”

Prior to starting the Kacey Devlin label, Kacey was working in PR. “It was great, it opened another industry facet to me. It’s so important to be mindful of brand and brand presence,” she says.

Lessons learned

The big lessons for Kacey this year have been the importance of forward planning and learning to be very fluid in terms of decision making, she says. “Change is inevitable and it’s how you respond to this that makes it a positive or negative change. Sometimes you need to go with things and not be too regimented with your strategy.”

Despite this, Kacey is working on tailoring the business’s five- year plan but says from her past experience she’s learnt a lot and will respond to immediate needs and opportunities to keep up with the momentum of the label.

“We know where we want to be in five years but we have to focus on the short term. It’s like focusing on the short term but with the long-term in mind.”

What’s next for Kacey Devlin

Kacey is currently working on the new season and then starting to get together the Resort Collection to show at Sydney Fashion Week in May. Towards the end of the year this collection will be shown in New York and Paris.

“The exciting part for us now internationally is that it’s our second time and they can see how the brand’s evolved,” Kacey says.

Kacey’s 3 top tips for aspiring designers

  1. Know why you started the business and why you started a brand.
  2. Never forget your customer. They are one of the biggest forces behind your brand.
  3. Don’t get caught up in distracting conversations. Remember why you started the brand and what you wanted to contribute to the industry and this will help you move forward.

Want to get your business on track for success? Define your fashionable future by speaking to a financial adviser.

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Information current as at 27/02/2018.

Based on a real life example. Details of the opinion or experience have been reproduced with permission. For illustrative purposes only.

Louise Rottier is a representative of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL & Australian credit licence 233714 (Westpac).  BT Advice is a Division of Westpac.