INTERVIEW | CORAL OF CORSTON COUTURE
Location: Sydney, Australia
Current Title / Company: Owner of Corston Couture
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB OUT OF UNIVERSITY & HOW DID YOU LAND THAT POSITION?
I went straight into business for myself, I got a scholarship from the government of $3000, access to a 6 week business course, and a mentor for a year, then I was off on my own!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
I had just come out of a science degree, which I realised I wouldn’t use. I had always loved sewing beautiful and unusual pieces, and I had done some custom work on the side while at University to fund my way… so I just decided to keep up with the designing and creating until I decided what I wanted to do in life… and I still haven’t decided on anything better than fashion!
TAKE US THROUGH A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR BUSINESS
Each day is so varied, I have so many “Jobs”…there are new customers to consult with, established clients to do fittings with, fabrics and haberdashery to order, instructions and meeting with machinists and fabric beaders and embroiderers, hunting for new fabrics, or design ideas, advertising, PR…the list is endless I am sure!
HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE JOURNEY TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
So many things have been a surprise… the amazing dresses we have created with our brides, the collaborations we have done with other professionals, always exciting and unexpected results.
The number of hours you have to work…never a 38 hour week…or a 4 week holiday either!! And the particular attention to finances that is needed… cash flow can get away from you soooo fast. Oh and that growing the business doesn’t mean more profit necessarily, or less hours worked…often just the opposite!
OBVIOUSLY, YOUR BUSINESS HAS GROWN! SO, LET'S TALK MONEY. TELL US ABOUT THE INTIMIDATING PROCESS OF FINDING FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
ANY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WHO NEED TO FIND FUNDING FOR THEIR OWN STARTUP?
I started with $3000, not anywhere near enough! I have self funded with some family loans when the going got really tough at times. I do believe, especially at the beginning, that using your own money and growing with your profits help you make more cautious financial decisions. If you have someone you can partner with, either formally or informally that knows about business (and it is an art!) then perhaps borrowing to grow in a controlled way would be fine.
My thoughts are you will make 1000 mistakes financially on the journey, and better that those mistakes are small rather than too big, with someone else’s money
YOUR BUSINESS HAS DEVELOPED QUITE A FOLLOWING. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS? HOW DID YOU SPREAD THE WORD?
The majority of our business comes from work of mouth, we do everything in our power to make sure a bride is happy with her dress, and happy clients tell others, and we end up with lots of their friends buying our dresses.
The other big avenue of getting clients has been face book, however, I cautiously think Instagram is taking over in social marketing now, and Facebook doesn’t seem to be quite a fruitful as it has been in the past... we are currently watching that all very closely at the moment.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Stubbornness!...never giving up, on the business, or the clients and making sure our brides are as happy as we can possibly make them when they walk out the door.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST MILESTONE FOR YOU, & YOUR BRAND?
For me personally, I struggle to acknowledge any milestones, (as women are prone to do) I always think the next collection is the best... but there have been the obvious milestones along the way. Opening my 1st storefront & opening in Sydney and making a success of it (I started in Newcastle). Also, having our dresses on the covers of magazines (that always feels special)!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BRIDAL TREND AT THE MOMENT?
Light as a feather ethereal gowns with a hint of nude.
YOUR FAVOURITE WEDDING DRESS CURRENTLY INSTORE?
It would definitely be the “Love Story” Gown
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?
“Keep persisting, Keep refining, Keep believing”
I WISH I KNEW HOW TO...
That list is so long!....but shorter than when I was 20!
WHAT IS YOUR COFFEE ORDER?
I don’t drink coffee….(lots of water, if that counts)
TV SHOW YOU WISHED WAS STILL ON AIR?
I sadly have very little time for TV, in fact none, but I did enjoy Sex in the City, for all the clothes!
NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION?
Iceland, I hope!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 23 YEAR OLD SELF?
Ask advice from more people….seek out people to mentor you, in all areas of life you feel you need help, it is so much faster than stubbornly figuring it out by yourself!