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Five minutes with fashion designer Kate Sylvester

By Carolyn Enting

Five minutes with fashion designer Kate Sylvester
Kate Sylvester celebrates 21 years in business this year. She will be sharing her secrets with small business owners through the Building Smarter Business project.

Congratulations on your 21 years of business. What factors do you think have been the most critical to your success?

Thank you. With any business or any project that does succeed, it is due to incredibly hard work. I also think being able to adapt and evolve as we grow and as the market changes is also crucial to sustained success. For us, building an incredibly good team around us was very important, having a team of staff and having our strong community around us for support was vital to our success.

What has been the most challenging part of growing your own business?

When we started out we were so hands on with every single aspect of the business – Wayne and I were controlling everything. As you grow, you have to figure out how to hand that over to people. The challenge is to sustain your vision and your quality standards when you are having to hand that over to other people. What we’ve discovered is we have to keep putting systems in place to control this aspect of the business, to ensure the quality is sustained.

Why have you chosen to help other small businesses through mentoring?

An important part of success is building a support network of other people around you, it’s incredibly important when you are trying to grow a business to talk to other people who have more experience or people who have the same issues as you. We’ve had some amazing support through the years and it’s fantastic to be in a position where we can help others grow as well.

What tips would you give to a new business starting out?

Have a business plan. It is such a simple thing and I think people often overlook that. We still regularly go back and check our plans – we’ve learnt you just can’t function without a very clear direction and the knowledge of what you’re working towards.

Where do you hope to take your business in the next few years?

For us we’re very excited to be looking to New York. We’ve had some interest from some great stores over there and we are actively pursuing that market. We’re also keen to grow our offering and brand to include more accessories and other products.

Entries are now open for small businesses to take part in Building Smarter Business. For more information and a chance to win a mentoring session with Kate Sylvester visit



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