A common refrain among small business owners is the realisation that to grow their dreams they may just need to lean on someone else for support. Perth-sider Tash, the face behind Little Lords, kids clothing for the fashion nobles in your life, is no different; however with a decade spent working in finance and function management and a foot on the property ladder, something tells me this woman knows what it takes to succeed, solo or otherwise.
The premature arrival of her son, Eddi, in 2013 signalled the turning point in her career. Recovering from an unplanned C-section, she split her time between the hospital and work as her boss sought a replacement. But this haphazard arrangement clarified for Tash what she really wanted and the concept of Little Lords was born. Initially a retailer, Tash quickly took the concept online with the desire to produce her own designs, ultimately launching her brand in 2014.
Currently designing to the tune of Peking Duk, Violent Soho, Courtney Barnett and a host of home-grown Perth talent, Tash insists on having music serve a much-needed lyrical backdrop to her creative process. “Inspired by things we love… music, movies, cool quotes, things that resonate with my son that I think others would like too,” says Tash, Little Lords is a little bit edgy, a little bit rock and a little bit cheeky too. “One of our first designs was an ode to Grease, definitely one of my favourite movies,” she says. “Didn’t every girl want to be Sandy at some point in their life?”
With a notes section overflowing with ideas on her phone, the designer takes reference from fellow brands, memories and most of all the Nineties. “I am such a 90s child,” she says. Recalling the fashion of her youth, she admits to twinning with her best friend at discos in a typical combination of baggy jeans and tight tops, “I remember my mum telling me I’d regret that one day, how right she was… Oh and hyper colour, I was obsessed.”
From then to now, Tash’s style has undoubtedly undergone as much of an evolution as the wider fashion world, trading baggy pants for leggings, tight tops for baggy tees and hyper colour for black. “The amount of plain black singlets I have is ridiculous,” she laughs. “It’s funny how your style changes when you have kids, no more short skirts for me!”
Taking inspiration from fellow mum-run brands including Beau Hudson, JR Cooper and Kapow Kids to name a few, it is that mumpreneur component that Tash finds the biggest challenge. “It’s funny,” she says, “we start businesses to work from home and be around our children, but once the business grows we spend so much time on it the hardest thing is finding balance.” The elusive quest to provide equal service to both our work selves and personal selves is no doubt the toughest thing we as women, particularly, have to conquer so it helps when we have a supportive team mate guiding us through it.
Tash and her fiancé Jarrod create quite the collaborative team in formulating the slogan concepts and design of each Little Lords garment. “He had me make two of our tees in his size,” she says. “I love a good father/son matchy outfit.” Grounded in the beauty of handmade, Tash sews some of the pieces in her line while a seamstress lends a helping hand, but in light of growing demand, the designer turned the main reins of the business over to a manufacturer in early 2015. “I will always have a love of handmade so hope to keep that aspect within the business for a while yet,” she says. “But I’ve finally learnt I can’t do everything on my own.”
Setting her sights on the near future, this 30 year old powerhouse has great big plans for her Little Lords, from the desire for an artist collaboration to hiring more staff and watching her business grow organically. “I would also love to dress Gwen Stefani’s boys for obvious reasons,” she adds, “the coolest fashionista family, plus those boys have rad haircuts and I have a thing about boys with long, funky hair.”
Paying homage to who she considers the true source of her success, Tash admits the most important lesson she’s learnt since launching Little Lords is in appreciating and acknowledging the customers. “They are spending their hard earned money on your brand and I am so thankful for that,” she says. “I don’t take one single order for granted. I have customers that order like 10 pieces at a time and I just want to hug them, I’m so happy and grateful that they love what I do and are allowing me to keep doing it!”
So what is her advice to other business dreamers? “Work hard and be authentic,” she says, recalling the advice given to her. “Nothing is going be handed to you so if you have a passion for what you do and are prepared to work hard, hopefully you’ll succeed.” With a phoneful of new ideas, new manufacturers and warehouse space lined up for later this year it’s onwards and upwards for Tash’s Little Lords as she puts the LL cool into kids’ fashion!