Like many fashion designers before her, Alannah’s label, MAID, reflects her own personal style. It is dichotomous in that it is stylish, yet is effortless and minimalistic. It is on trend, yet remains transcendent of the ever-turning fashion tides.
Alannah always knew she wanted to work in fashion in some capacity, but her real start came when she began as a junior stylist at Sophie Hart Styling. Here she gained invaluable experience working on an array of different projects, sometimes even working with celebrities and often for major fashion publications. It was here her love of fashion was born, and only grew to solidify over the next few years, where she worked as a personal stylist and worked for other Australian designers to fund her next project: MAID.
Feeling most comfortable in slouchy boyfriend jeans and a white shirt, or a simple dress, Alannah’s own style is the art of classic chic. In fact, it was through her own desire to find simplistic, yet affordable leather pieces to use as a platform for her own wardrobe, that MAID was born.
Unlike other leather-based clothing labels, what sets MAID apart is its timelessness. The pieces are simple while still being fashion forward. Made from the softest lambs leather, they are lined and finished beautifully and come in a variety of on-trend colours like deep plum and a rich navy, seen in her most recent collection.
I was lucky enough to catch Alannah in some of her rare down time to chat about how it all began:
Did you have a business plan or strategy for starting the label and, if so, how did you develop it?
Yes I did, it took me quite a while to get through the business plan, but luckily enough I worked closely with a financial planner to help me start the business and stay on track. I also had a financial backer who helped me start up. Initially, there were a few small businesses that I drew inspiration from in the developmental stage of Maid. I looked at how brands such as Bassike and Eska Akalali marketed a minimalistic collection and admired how well it worked for them. It also helps having some great contacts in the fashion industry. I received so much good advice from friends in the industry before starting MAID.
What do you think has contributed to your success with MAID so far?
Experience in the fashion industry, which contributes to the designs, as well as having a keen eye for styles and trends. Also I have a huge belief in my brand which gives me motivation, and I love to be organised which helps.
How have you grown the brand since you started?
I have hosted collection launches and pop up shops, along with markets stalls at some of Sydney’s best fashion markets. We participated in Mountain Sounds music festival recently, which was a huge success. I have also collaborated with stylists and bloggers, which got the word out a little bit more about MAID.
Have you encountered any challenges since starting the label?
Working with manufacturers overseas and the communication barriers has been a constant struggle.
Is there anything you would change about how you have managed the business?
I’ve had slight branding adjustments since I first launched in 2013. But now the only real change in the near future would be the shipping process. I would love to make it more economic but as the business grows this should get easier.
Who are your influences both in a business sense and in a creative sense?
Elin Kling for both aspects. I think her style and creativity is an inspiration, and she also has a very good business sense. But above her would be my Mother. She has such a wealth of knowledge from being in the fashion industry for many years, and I really look up to her and what she has to offer.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in business?
I’ve had to employ a male correspondent for overseas manufacturing, as it’s difficult to be taken seriously (as well as the obvious language barrier).
How did you decide on where to source materials?
I did a fair bit of research before deciding Indonesia was the place that suited MAID the best, particularly with the small quantities I needed to begin with.
How do you maintain quality control?
I base myself in Bali for 3 weeks while the collection is being produced. Firstly the samples are all double-checked and then I give them the go-ahead for the full range. Then in the next few weeks I visit the factory twice a day to check how each style is coming along.
There has been a huge influx of new leather-based labels in the last few years. What are the things that you think makes Maid stand out in comparison to other labels like Winston Wolfe?
I believe that MAID’s simplistic designs give it the longevity and, I think, as a consumer myself, I want to know that I’m getting a piece that can last a few seasons, rather than just one. Also; my finishes. Every single garment is fully lined and hemmed and I think it gives the pieces a bit more then just a raw edge straight skirt.
Finally, what are your plans for the label for 2015?
Leather will always be the basis of the collection but I’ll be introducing more fabrications to the collection next year and I’ll also begin developing a small menswear range.
You can check MAID the Label out here: http://www.maidthelabel.com/
Or @maidthelabel on Instagram is definitely worthy of a follow.