Canberra has a bevvy of new, young, creative, budding entrepreneurs who are receiving accolades in their respective industries. One such rising star is Tahlia Jae Cooper who started an e-commerce fashion business nearly one year ago. Given Tahlia’s background and seeming natural business acumen, it makes sense that Jaeke Collection is gaining significant momentum even before its first birthday.
I was curious about Tahlia’s backstory and how she is using business smarts, a strong work ethic and a positive attitude to make it happen. So, I got in touch with her to get all the juicy details.
RA: What inspired you to get into fashion? And how did you get into it?
TJC: After completing my 3-year business degree, having majored in entrepreneurial management, I always knew I wanted to be the owner of a business one day. Having an overflowing wardrobe at home, there really is no surprise that I love fashion! Jaeke essentially is an extension of my online shopping addiction. I remember driving one night with my sister, I pitched to her [the idea that] I wanted to start a fashion brand (wasn’t called Jaeke at the time) and the very next day I was researching everything I could!
RA: At what age did you start Jaeke? And how long has it been running?
TJC: I started Jaeke when I was 22 and it has now been running for almost a year!
RA: What do you love most about fashion? Who or what are your biggest inspirations in fashion?
TJC: I love that fashion is so diverse, and trends are always changing. The way you dress is really the way you feel, the way you live, an expression of individuality. I love the fact that a simple piece of clothing can change your whole mood and really bring out your personality. I’m a very visual and creative person and my world is a happier place when I’m surrounded by what I believe to be beautiful design. I love when clothing gives a statement, is bold and beautiful. Jaeke is a very natural extension of my appreciation of aesthetics. I can’t think of a more creative outlet than expressing personal style!
My biggest inspiration would have to be Jane Lu, successful entrepreneur and ‘girlboss’ of online fashion store ‘Showpo’. Essentially, she built her brand up in her parents’ garage, was a corporate dropout and is now turning over $30 million in annual sales. She inspires me with her fun approach to business and gave me the confidence to pursue a non-conventional lifestyle. Growing up in Canberra I thought I had to become a public servant to earn good money. Instead, I took a chance and flung myself into this crazy fast-paced fashion industry, I can now see I wouldn’t change a thing!
RA: Describe the Jaeke brand style and what does Jaeke mean or stand for?
TJC: Jaeke is all about creating a memorable staple style. Every piece in the collection inspires confidence in our customers and we do so at an affordable price. A Jaeke girl emanates style. She’s bold and loves anything a little bit luxe and French! Jaeke is a collection of essentials, sometimes brightly coloured to neutral tones. Every piece has something special about it and is never boring!
RA: How did you learn to run a business? Who are your business mentors and who are your biggest inspirations in business? And in fashion?
TJC: I was never taught how to run a business, and when I started, I dove right into gathering some trendy pieces and setting up a very rough online store and Instagram account. I was almost too nervous to post pictures in fear of judgement or not being aesthetically pleasing enough as other online retailers. Funnily enough, it was my beautician (also a successful entrepreneur) who ensured me I had to just start posting. I have always actively sought out information to help me learn. From online tutorials, attending seminars to simply sitting down with other successful entrepreneurs and picking their brains. However, running a business really isn’t smooth sailing, and I still learn things everyday! I’m quite spontaneous so when I think of an idea, I action it and figure out the details later. I’ve learnt everything I know on the job, I’ve encountered tough times and I’ve also flourished in success. Running a business is enjoyable and exhausting, but it’s all so worth it. Passion and hard work go hand in hand. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out, always.
RA: What has been some of the challenges that you didn’t expect going into business? What’s your strategy for overcoming business challenges?
TJC: I knew starting a business wasn’t going to be easy, but I was surprised with how much work really goes into the operations side of things! Being a sole trader means that you have to wear every ‘Hat’. I might be the CEO, but I am also marketing, social media, customer service, fulfilment team, e-commerce manager, photoshoot stylist, fashion buyer and the list goes on. Setbacks happen, cash isn’t so easily obtainable, but nevertheless, my strategy for overcoming business challenges is to never give up and keep going. The problems I incurred early on were necessary in that it paved the way for future successes and made me appreciate everything more and learn from my failures.
RA: What’s your goal or vision for Jaeke for the long-term future?
TJC: I have big plans for Jaeke in 2019. In just our first year already our clothing has been featured in two magazines, influencers and well-known DJs have reached out and collaborated, we even donated a playsuit that made it to the red carpet of the 2018 ARIA awards! 2019 is going to be a big year as I plan to release a men’s line and completely shift my target market. It sounds silly but I tell myself everyday that I want to make it on to the Forbes under 30 list, and hopefully by law of attraction, I will make it one day!