The fashion industry is tough. The last thing you’d expect of a much-lauded, bold new label like macgraw, is a business strategy that starts with “Be kind.” But that’s exactly what guides the label’s founders Beth and Tessa MacGraw every day. And it’s all down to their parents.
“Mum and Dad ran a successful flooring import business from the time we were born until its recent sale,” Beth says. “They had extremely loyal staff, retailers and suppliers and were spoken of highly throughout their industry.”
When Beth and Tessa set up their label in 2012, their parents’ advice was to “be fair, be ethical and create strong relationships.” Being kind was part of that.
“Kind” in action
macgraw launched at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2014. Finalists in the 2015 BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award, they showed again at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, with Vogue editor-in-chief Edwina McCann and fashion director Christine Centenera watching from the front row.
For Beth and Tessa, being kind in business means communicating, paying on time and being reasonable. “Sounds pretty obvious,” says Tessa, “but you would be surprised to know how many businesses aren't doing this. If we are going to be slow paying an invoice we will put the supplier at ease by offering part payments and staying in touch.” It’s especially important in fashion, where suppliers have been burned in the past, and are wary of new entrants.
How has their kindness policy paid off for the MacGraw sisters? “People are usually willing to go the extra mile for you,” Beth says. “We find this helps particularly around Fashion Week when timelines are tight… we’ve had some suppliers working late nights and weekends for us to get the job done and we couldn't appreciate them more for it.”
People buy people
BT Financial Group works closely with independent financial planning business owners. Being kind in business has lots of benefits according to BT’s Head of Licensee Development, BT Group Licensees, Annick Donat.
“I think first and foremost, people buy people,” Annick says. “It doesn’t matter what service or product you sell, you always get a better outcome if you do it in a positive, respectful and authentic way… being fair and ethical in business creates longevity not only with your relationships but also provides a platform for building a sustainable business.
“Reflect on how often you go back to the same store, coffee shop or service provider just because you think the people are nice and ‘kind’. It’s a fundamental pillar for getting repeat business.”
Annick knows of one adviser who hosts a regular ‘Pasta Wednesday’, inviting people to share home-made pasta with their team. “He and his family run a great business that thrives on the foundations of being kind, doing the right thing and caring for others,” she says.
Can you be too kind?
“I don’t think you can be too kind, but I do think you can be naïve in business,” says Annick. “Having a personal moral code enables you to instinctively recognise when you’re being taken advantage of and take steps to deal with the situation.”
What Annick loves about Beth & Tessa’s story is how they have grown up and developed their moral code from their parents. “Role modelling on business leaders and mentors you admire is a great way to develop your own sense of self as a leader… Coming in every day to a business you are proud to be a part of and with the momentum of a positive and ‘kind’ attitude is infectious - you’ll soon find your clients and staff catching it!”
macgraw is available in boutiques around Australia. You can see Beth and Tessa interviewed in our BT Runway for Success video.
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This information is current as at 25/05/2015.