Starting A Premium Fashion Brand with Hannah & Sarah
My audience is eager to read stories of female entrepreneurs creating a difference in the world. Tell us about yourself and your brand.
We are, Sara Lewis and Hannah Oliver and we are the co-founders of On Good Authority. We are friends first and foremost. We are city girls living in London with a shared passion for getting away at the weekends spending time in the outdoors, reconnecting with nature.
On Good Authority is a premium, sustainable rain-wear brand. We make waterproof jackets from recycled plastics, using non-toxic water repellency techniques. We think women should be able to be fully protected from the elements without having to compromise on their style or ethics.
Your story & brand is something many readers would relate to. In detail, tell us how you got started and where your idea originated from.
On Good Authority started as an idea at a particularly rainy Glastonbury festival. Relentless wet weather meant that we spent the five-day event in our waterproof hiking jackets feeling frustrated at the compromise between style and practicality. We started speaking to our friends and realised it wasn’t just us that felt this way.
With my background in performance outerwear development it soon became apparent that this was a problem that we could actually solve. I have worked in the fashion industry for 15 years at major lifestyle brands and my experience has always been the same, women’s wear is seen as a second priority to menswear. With smaller teams, smaller collections, less R&D, less investment – the term “shrink it and pink it” is prevalent in the industry. Women don’t want patronising pink and purple jackets with floral prints. They want technical product with style, empowering them to get on with their day. Women want their rain-wear to be an extension of their everyday outfit whether that’s on their commute, in the boardroom or doing the school run.
Hannah has worked in the communications industry for many years working on creative branding solutions so we felt we had the perfect skill set to create a brand for like-minded women offering them style, protection and a responsible solution.
As female entrepreneurs, you must be multitasking many times while developing your business & brand. If you could systemise something in your business to run on automation, what would it be and what would that look like to help you in your business?
As start-up founders, we have to wear all the hats! We literally have to do everything, even if we don’t know how to, we have to learn how to or find someone kind enough to help us! One of the first hires that we will make once we are further established is a social media manager. It’s such an integral part of communication but extremely time consuming and requires head space to maintain creativity and interest.
From your experience, what are some key factors you’ve learned on this journey to create an outstanding, premium fashion brand?
As previously mentioned, as founders we have to work out how to manage all aspects of running a business. That said, it’s also really important to recognise where our skills fall short and when it’s better to invest in expert support. Hannah and I both have our own specialist areas of knowledge but we recognised that we needed support with brand art direction, especially as we are a high-end brand.
To build a successful brand and to establish it, one has to go through many challenges. What are some of the challenges you go through on a day-to-day basis?
You have to have self-belief. You have to believe in yourself and the brand that you are building. There are good days and there are days when you think, what are we doing? Can we really do this? But you have to hold onto the fire in your belly and keep celebrating the milestones. Even if they are only very small, they are great achievements. We actually run a document that we up-date daily outlining our achievements that day. Not only does it act as a great log of actioned tasks, it helps put our progress into black and white.
Quite often with a start-up you experience one-step forward, two steps backwards, which can feel disheartening. So to be able to look back at a document and see tangible headway can be really helpful.
What do you think makes your Brand so unique from other fashion brands?
Unlike our competition, OGA brings both technical performance and strong style together to create eco-rainwear that women actually want to wear.
Times are now even tougher to stand out from the crowd. What are you doing as a brand and owners of OGA to become more visible?
We’ve been working with some carefully curated brand ambassadors who share our values towards sustainable and ethical fashion practises. We’ve partnered with Besma Whayeb who is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle writer as well as Elle L who is a responsible fashion and beauty advocate and who also works as a media and fashion advisor to the UN supporting them to achieve the SDGs.
For us it’s really important to maintain an authentic brand story and to work with people who share the same passion and vision towards responsible fashion.
What are your future plans for OGA? Any exciting projects lined up?
Until very recently, we were in the midst of fundraising so that we could bring more styles to the collection later this year. Sadly that has been put on hold for now due to the economic struggles and uncertainty brought about by Covid-19. So right now, we are focusing on keeping engaged with our audience and using our platform to continue to raise awareness about the importance of shopping sustainably. We are currently reframing our business plan to relaunch in SS21 in tandem with the UK music festival season.
When we do relaunch we are so excited to tell you that we have sourced a new fabric that we will roll out for future collections that is made from 100% rPET (recycled post consumer plastic bottles), and is also 100% recyclable. This means that we can create product in a closed loop circular economy massively reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Lying on a beach on a Greek island with a pina colada in hand! Ha ha! Well, that was supposed to be my summer holiday but hopefully by then we will be allowed to take such jaunts again!
From a business perspective, we hope to be well established in the UK market with a growing presence in key off shore territories. Actually in our business plan our 5-year goal is to achieve B Corps certification. This recognises companies who are committed to prioritising the environment and society in the same way they do business.
If there is one piece of advice you were asked to give to entrepreneurs venturing into the field of starting a premium fashion brand, what would that be?
Surround yourself with industry experts and supportive friends. It can be quite a lonely journey at times and requires real grit and determination. Being able to call up a friend or previous colleague to bounce ideas off can be a lifeline.
Where can the audience find out more about you?
They can visit our website ongoodauthority.co where we have a journal sharing stories and opinion pieces on the issues surrounding the fashion industry.
We also have an Instagram handle @ongoodauthority where we share our brand story.