No regrets, only opportunities – Cargo Crew’s can-do attitude

When Cargo Crew’s Creative Director, Felicity Rodgers, is asked if there’s anything she’d do differently, she states firmly that she doesn’t have any regrets. “It’s all been about making the most of the learning experience and turning it into opportunities,” she explains. This is an attitude shared by her business partners – her husband Paul Rodgers and her sister Narelle Craig – as well as their staff. And it’s one that has seen Cargo Crew grow into Australia’s leading corporate and hospitality uniform providers – as well as a Telstra Business Award winner. What makes them stand out – indeed, they’ve been described as ‘disrupting the market’ – is a commitment to creating revolutionary company uniforms which are proudly worn by staff.

Cargo Crew has grown and developed from a home-based, made-to-order business funded by a $2,000 tax return, to a thriving company with an extensive online range, a warehouse, numerous staff and a large client base. The journey began when Felicity, whose background and education is in fashion design, realised that her passion lay in designing uniforms for hospitality and corporate clients. “Originally I would be given a brief by a client, and I would design and make the uniforms from that,” she recalls. “But over time I realised this wasn’t really a cost-effective option.”

Felicity was soon joined by her sister Narelle and her husband Paul. “Narelle had joined me after I’d had the business for 6 years – her background is in advertising and marketing – and together we felt that launching our own brand, stock that people can buy from, is a much more cost-effective option than having to reinvent the wheel every time.” Paul’s background in operations management meant that the processes and day-to-day running of the company became more streamlined and efficient.

When it comes to helping their clients create a uniform that suits their brand, Felicity says that their advice on styling is regularly sought after and a service that they are particularly proud of. “All of our staff are really passionate about our brand and our products, so they really enjoy working with our clients to put together a look that suits them,” she says. “Even though everything is online, our offline service is a big part of our business. We’re looking at the client’s logo, offering our advice on branding, what would look best. It’s a huge part of what we offer at Cargo Crew. It’s a partnership based on our experience and our clients’ ideas.”

“We set about to disrupt the uniform market by starting a new wave of uniform design that values authentic style,” says Narelle, expanding on Felicity’s statement. “At the same time, we have an industry direct supply solution,” she continues.

Cargo Crew is an internationally recognised brand, one that ships to clients from all over the globe. “Foreign markets are a huge, growing opportunity for us,” Felicity says. “We ship regularly to America, London, New Zealand – and we’ve started shipping to Sweden and even Bahrain.” Cargo Crew include among their clients L’Oreal, Tabcorp, Dulux and Renault. The huge UK department store, Selfridges, have also expressed an interest.

Felicity, Narelle and Paul’s commitment to their customers and to excellence has seen them take out the 2015 Telstra Australia Small Business Award.

When asked if she’s got any advice for those considering starting out in the fashion industry, Felicity is confident about what she believes are key factors for success:

  • Focus on what you’re passionate about – “if you’re passionate about what you do, it’ll translate into business success and it invigorates your clients and your staff,” she says.
  • Maintain your integrity – “reputation is everything, especially in fashion,” Felicity advises.
  • Be unique – “develop your own business model and direction,” she says. “Then you have your own unique identity. Don’t follow what others have done. Be true to yourself, to what inspires you, and to your vision.”

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