It was recognising a niche in an already niche market that led Felicity Rodgers to start Cargo Crew, a company that creates contemporary uniforms for businesses and the 2015 Telstra Small Business of the year.
“Prior to launching Cargo Crew, I had a young designer fashion label with a girlfriend, which we started after completing our fashion design degree at RMIT.”
In that time, Rodgers says they were approached by businesses that were looking for a contemporary uniform look, an indication of a gap in the market, a gap that Rodgers was prepared to fill.
“I began Cargo Crew in 2002 with a $2000 tax return, focusing on producing bespoke uniforms for corporate businesses,” says Rodgers.
After years of producing custom-made uniforms for business clients Rodgers launched Cargo Crew’s online store in 2012 – alongside business partners husband Paul Rodgers and sister Narelle Craig – with just four denim aprons, aimed at those in the hospitality industry.
The company prides itself on the quality and design of its products, while delivering functionality.
“We are all about amplifying our client’s visual identity through providing staff uniforms that complement their visual language,” says Rodgers.
While the company still maintains a bricks and mortar presence – with a retail showroom in Melbourne – half of their business comes through their website an area that, Rodgers says, “Many other traditional uniform suppliers, and B2B companies in general, have been slow to move into”.
The challenge comes in creating a system that works seamlessly between the online store, the custom and offline orders, and flows through to the warehouse and accounts department, explains Rodgers.
“We have invested heavily in systems to ensure that they all speak to each other to take the manual work out of the process. We are constantly reviewing and updating this aspect of our business to ensure that the customer’s needs are met and that we manage our paperwork in the most cost-effective and time-effective manner,” she says.
“When I started the business in 2002, there weren’t nearly as many online services as there are today,” says Rodgers.
One of Rodgers first tasks was finding a good accountant to provide guidance and advice. After gathering advice on the best accounting software, Rodgers trained in managing the day-to-day accounts until she found a part-time bookkeeper.
“To me it’s the areas of finance, tax and business compliance that can be overwhelming, particularly in the early days of starting a business, so sourcing the right advice in these areas is key.”
The ANZ Business Ready tool is one source of assistance, designed to guide businesses through every step of the setup process from setting up a domain name to getting an ABN.
“This resource is like having a mentor mapping out the crucial first steps of starting a business, and would be extremely valuable for anyone starting up,” says Rodgers.
“It’s certainly a much more cost-effective way to get specialised advice and guidance on the key areas of starting a business. Minimising these costs on the outset is crucial.”
Written by: Thea Christie
ANZ’s Business Ready tool can help you achieve your business goals with easy-to-use tools that set your business up for success.
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