After 15 years in the fashion industry, Maxine Dosen, director of Strutt Fashion in Brisbane, knows the ups and downs of retail as well as anybody.
Starting Strutt Fashion
It was a chance conversation while on a weekend away in Sydney 15 years ago that gave Maxine her start in fashion retail. At the time, she’d just sold a hair salon and was looking for her next venture. As she walked down Pitt Street Mall, a Politix men’s clothing store caught her eye.
“I went in and said to the owner, ‘How do I take this to Queensland?’ Because we didn’t have very fun menswear up there,” Maxine says. “He said I was just what they were looking for.”
Soon after, she was running a Politix store in Brisbane. Twelve months later, she went it alone, opening her own retail store, Strutt Fashion, which offers on-trend fashion for women of all ages.
Maxine enjoyed a successful first year as she learned the ropes of the fashion industry. But it wasn’t all smooth strutting down the small business catwalk.
“I went into it knowing nothing. I had to learn by falling and getting back up again,” she says. “I did make some mistakes, as you do in small business, but you get better as you learn more about patterns, how things move and how people operate.”
Now Maxine’s carved out a nice niche in Queensland’s fashion landscape.
“We’re not trying to be over-funky, we’re just pretty; we’re affordable fashion that’s wearable,” Maxine says. “Our demographic is 18 to infinity. We have some 80-year-olds who wear some of our things, which is quite cool.”
Managing seasonal cash flow
Of course, by its very nature, fashion is seasonal. Some months are booming, while others are flat.
And to last the distance, a business owner has to learn how to operate the business to ride out that seasonality – quickly. Because those peaks and troughs can turn into major stumbling blocks if not managed adequately.
“During a trough, your cash flow decreases because you’re still paying the same rent, same wages, same taxes,” Maxine says. “Everything remains the same; your cash flow is what keeps you afloat.”
Similarly, opportunities for great deals and growth don’t only present themselves during boom times.
“I have had opportunities where people were offering me great deals,” Maxine says. “I needed a little more cash flow to take hold of those to then make some great sales in those peak times.”
Maxine needed financial flexibility to survive the lean periods and be proactive when opportunities arose. She found traditional lenders to be too cautious, slow and impersonal.
“Everyone’s having a hard time with the banks because they’re putting everyone through major hoops for a small amount of money,” she says. “You feel vulnerable with the bank because the process isn’t friendly; it’s long and drawn out. The bank will take two to three weeks and keep asking you for more paperwork.
“I said forget it. If you can’t make a decision, I’m not going to hang around forever.”
A financial boost
Fed up with the banks, Maxine decided to apply for a Prospa Small Business Loan after seeing an ad on TV.
“I spoke to Angie, and wow, she was so lovely, so accommodating and excited to hear about my business.”
With Prospa, Maxine found a willing lending partner that didn’t disappear with the changing of the calendar.
“Prospa’s timing is perfect whenever you need them,” she says. “They help you out when you need those funds to buy additional stock when you’re presented with good deals.”
“I found Prospa warm and welcoming,” Maxine says. “They put the encouragement back into it, the believability.”
What’s next for Strutt Fashion?
In addition to being able to take advantage of buying opportunities, a Prospa Small Business Loan enabled Maxine to buy an LED sign that will soon hang above Strutt Fashion’s entrance.
She’s also been approached by major retail spaces to open another location. It’s possible in large part thanks to the flexibility and financial backing Prospa provides.
“It comes down to affordability and cash flow,” Maxine says. “You don’t want to start something that you can’t afford. You’ve got to be able to afford it.”
A Prospa Small Business Loan has helped Strutt Fashion:
- Take advantage of timely deals on stock.
- Cover overheads during lean periods.
- Buy a new LED sign for her store.
- Explore exciting expansion opportunities.
Pictured: Strutt Fashion store manager Siovahn and sales assistant Jade.
If you’re ready to follow in Maxine’s footsteps by minimising your cash flow worries and be in a position to seize new opportunities, talk to one of our experienced small business lending specialists on 1300 882 867 or find out more.
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