Nick and Lucy Ennis
We’re capable of more than we expected
Nique has just opened its latest fashion store in Melbourne Central to fanfare and customer acclaim. How have husband and wife team Nick and Lucy Ennis succeeded in this tough industry?
We’re a husband and wife team who would consider themselves Designers first and Entrepreneurs second. Its arguable whether that order has helped or hindered us over the years.
We met in our early twenties, fell in love on a holiday, finished uni and started a small Design Agency. We primarily serviced the electronic music industry and brands looking for a connection with the early adopting twenty-something demographic.
Not long after inception, we started developing a street wear line which spoke to the burgeoning electronic music scene. Distribution grew from a handful of fringe stores to global distribution within a few years, so we phased out the Agency and focused on building our own brand.
What drove you to start Nique?
Nick – I started working for someone else in a creative role and I found it completely stifling. I knew almost instantly that I wanted to do my own thing.
Lucy – I finished university and knew that I didn’t want to go into Psychology as a profession. I always had an interest in all things technical, so Nick and I seemed to work perfectly together on web design projects.
After a few years working as a Design Agency, we decided to focus on developing our own product line. We saw a gap in the market and went for it.
What’s been your proudest moment in business?
We’re proud of the fact that we have been resilient and adapted to a rapidly changing market. Over the last three years, we’ve seen so much change in the industry and we’ve had solid year on year growth.
For a small business, I think we’ve taken up some pretty progressive Business management tools. Everything from developing our own online training and induction tools for our staff to a range of cloud based aps to streamline systems and management.
As Designers in a small business we’ve learnt to be resourceful. At Nique, we do everything from cutting the patterns to designing our stores. All divisions are run internally from Design and Production to Marketing and Digital.
We’re also very proud of our position as an ethical company. We’re highly conscious of representing Melbourne accurately through our image making and marketing, ensuring we’re celebrating our diversity through multiculturalism and sexual orientation. We’re also launching a new non-for profit project targeted at supporting the young homeless people of Melbourne.
What mistake have you learned most from?
A fashion brand’s success over a sustained period of time is based on its ability to balance the key areas of the business. Design, Production. Marketing, Finance, Sales and more recently Digital. We’ve realised that you can’t afford to take your eye off one of these areas as success is only achieved when all six are optimised and working in sequence.
What have you learned about yourself?
We’ve learnt that we’re capable of more than we expected. We’ve pushed ourselves to the limit in working hours, stress and creative output and we think that we’ll always be proud of the fact that we’ve been resilient and found the answers when we needed them.
What has been your biggest sacrifice for the business?
Its not so much the sacrifices that we’ve made along the way that have been an issue, but learning to live with the inherent risk Involved in running a fashion business. We’re going through a new growth phase and we’re starting to take on larger commitments, bigger stores in prime locations so the risks increase and the potential of a sacrifice is always there.
Given what you know now, what would you do differently?
We’ve really taken our time and been as sure footed as we can be.
In some ways that’s been a positive but conversely we’ve been frustrated that we haven’t been able to make gains faster. I think we would have been more aggressive in our retail rollout.
Who would you most like to employ in your business – famous or otherwise?
Obviously successful fashion businesses are focusing on technology and the digital space for its evolutionary growth. We’d love to employ an Elon Musk not only for his incredible insights into new technology but also his ethical position.
Best piece of advice to other business owners?
Embrace creativity in every aspect of what you do. It is the elixir of life, business and everything in between. Meditation is useful for keeping a clear head and operating at the next level. Keep pushing yourself and look beyond your immediate horizon.
If you want to check out Nick and Lucy’s latest store go to:
Shop 233, Level 2
Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.