It comes as no surprise that a dynamic duo with 15 years fashion experience between them have created a thriving brand, their braindchild Solito harbouring a loyal local, national and international fan base. The label was apparently born out of sheer desperation. While working in wholesale, the designer pair could not find what they were looking for. “Mary and I owned a fashion agency for a couple of years and we identified a gap for an everyday brand that captured our loves of travel and interesting detail,” said Mills.
Solito’s aesthetic combines a relaxed lifestyle with whims of travel. Its signature hand embroidery and bold prints give a bohemian, resort feel. The brand is not restricted by age, with Mills explaining, ìWe aim to produce a range that can suit a variety of ages and body shapes, so our customer base can be a 20-year old through to a 60-year old.”
While the duo’s experience in wholesale provided expert business instincts, like any start up they underwent their challenges — particularly when it came to manufacturing. “There were a lot of teething issues at the beginning to make sure we had the right relationships with our factories.
We have put a lot of things in place from when we started to today, to ensure the process is much smoother from here on,” says Zacharia.
Mills says running a fashion brand is a learning process, but the pair would not have it any other way. “Our team is very small but in a way it also means the product is a lot more genuine because it is coming from us. It’s not diluted in a big production team.”
West End is the epicentre of Brisbane’s wholesale fashion market, so it made sense to set up shop on the peninsula. “It is definitely the hub for wholesale and fashion and the little rag trade heart of Brisbane. We recently moved out of Vulture Street and we looked at moving out of West End but found that it was incomparable to move from. It has that savvy bohemian,” said Zacharia.
The entrepreneurs have already broken into the international market, boasting stockists in Singapore and the Middle East, and they are hoping the brand will keep growing globally. “The USA would be our next target after Australia. International is where we want to grow,” said Mills.
Take it from two women who know — starting a fruitful fashion brand comes down to three factors. Knowing the market, a fiery passion and undying motivation is what the pair attribute to Solito’s success. Mills says, ìYou will be faced with challenges and you’ll be knocked down but you just have to keep working hard at it.” Zacharia agrees, “I think as long as people have that motivation within themselves you can achieve what you want to achieve.”
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