From concept to New York Fashion Week, the story of fashion entrepreneur Betty Tran proves that the road to success is never a clear path. It’s usually a string of failures, mistakes, rejections and disappointments.
If you have ever gone to a business functions where the sole purpose is to hand out business cards, the word networking can leave a bad taste in your mouth. But not when you’re in the company of The League of Extraordinary Women. The League was founded to bring female entrepreneurs together to share stories about owning and building a business as well as support where it was needed.
Launching in Melbourne in 2011, it’s Perth’s turn this year. The League was launched on the 18th March to a welcoming crowd of ladies at all stages of career and business ownership – from the idea curation stage to expansion.
Betty Tran, fashion entrepreneur and guest speaker at the League’s Perth launch breakfast has had a seeming whirlwind of success for her self-titled fashion label, Betty Tran. From concept to New York fashion week in just a few months, her success is something that many aspiring fashion designers can only dream of, however few are willing to put in the hard work.
Betty’s early career was in retail for luxury brands such as Armani where she got to see the day to day workings of a luxury retailer – what made it work and what was left wanting.
“If something didn’t work, and you had an idea, there was no way to get it (the change) done because you had a whole worldwide brand in the way.”
In the beginning, fashion was the last thing on Betty’s mind as she had watched her mother work tirelessly as a tailor and seamstress during her childhood. Eventually, to contribute to the household income, she assisted her mother with clothing manufacturing. Their first break came when Betty approached a well-known Perth fashion label to manufacture their dresses.
‘They were very surprised when I delivered a finished dress in one day, and from then on we got more and more orders.”
After a disappointing turn with Betty Sugar – her first label which succumbed when retailers and stockists closed down and left her in debt – Betty used her time at Armani to plan her own store design. She vowed to learn from the mistakes she’d seen over the years. Finally, and quietly, she launched Betty Tran, a label that took her customer’s needs and wants seriously.
“My mother thought I was crazy! I used my last $2000 to create a collection for Perth Fashion Week which went well, and I was invited to show at New York fashion week that year.”
Betty needed to raise $30,000 to show at NY Fashion Week with only three weeks til the deadline. She raised $20,000 and managed to pull off a show to stunning press reviews back home.
All success aside, the driving force behind a successful businesswoman is hard work and commitment.
“You make a lot of excuses to not go on. You fear that you aren’t good enough, that you will fail and not be able to pay your bills and rent!”
One of the main take-aways from her experience is that you need to be true to your own vision and only invite investors to your business who have a true synergy with you and your brand.
“Don’t get too excited and give financial control away. Do what you can yourself. [Take] small steps – it’s not just about money, it’s your dream.”
The League of Extraordinary Women aims to inspire and empower women who own their own business or even those who aren’t sure where to start. With their Australia-wide team of crusaders, they offer mentorship and support through their membership program as well as their frequent events. Find out more at www.leagueofextraordinarywomen.com.au and www.bettytran.com.au