A chat about making aprons, growing a business and juggling kids with Cargo Crew founder, Felicity Rodgers.
Tell us how Cargo Crew began?
In a nutshell, Cargo Crew began off the back of me running a fashion label with a girlfriend after graduating Fashion Design at RMIT. During our days of running our label we were often approached by businesses wanting us to produce them a fashionable uniform. My natural love for marketing allowed me to become immersed in these projects and when we decided to wind up the label, I decided to pursue a new business creating contemporary uniforms and Cargo Crew was born.
Your denim / canvas aprons have popped up on hospitality crews just about everywhere. How do you explain the huge growth of Cargo Crew?
Firstly it’s because of the people. As a family business, my husband and sister joined me in running the business and together with the incredible team we’ve built along the way we focus on innovating in everything we do.
Secondly, it’s our heritage. For many years we worked directly with our clients designing and producing custom uniforms. This process was extremely timely and expensive for all involved, however the many years of experience gave us key insights into what the industry needed which has directed and inspired us in what we bring to the market today.
Importantly, we’ve focused heavily on our digital presence so we communicate directly to our clients. We have developed a platform that not only allows us to be found online but also seamlessly communicates our offering, and delivers our product to the world.
Cargo Crew has been a disruptor to the uniform industry. What is it that set you apart?
From day one we’ve positioned Cargo Crew as a brand. We focus on creating original, design led products that staff want to wear and communicate our offering as The Modern Uniform. Prior to us doing so there was no identifiable uniform ‘brand’ in the Australian market that delivers what we do. Our distribution model sets us apart in the market as we sell directly to our clients with no middle man margins that add additional costs to the customer. We focus on delivering a high-quality product direct to our clients.
Can you remember the turning point when you realised you’d nailed it – that people were responding?
This was definitely when we went online. Prior to this our relationships with our customers was face to face and had been built over many years. Launching our online platform opened up our offering that defied personal relationships and borders, we are constantly delighted to see how our range has such diverse appeal.
Any moments you thought you could give-up? What turned it around?
There has never been a moment when I considered giving up an option. There are certainly difficult challenges that arise on many fronts, some being more challenging than others, but as the saying goes “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”
Being a working parent can be super tough. Discuss!
I think the biggest challenge that faces any working parent is managing time. It sometimes feels like you’re only skimming the surface on things which require further focus, but the magnitude of commitments means you need to get very good at multi-tasking, prioritising and also saying no (which I still haven’t mastered )
What makes you most proud of Cargo Crew?
The fact that our success has not just been “lucky” nor has it been an “accident”. It has been the result of genuine passion, innovation, creative thinking and hard work. It’s also been experiencing the highs & lows and learnings from the constant challenges that come with growing a business from scratch.