Owner: Sharon Hamilton and David Hamilton
Industry: Retail and consumer products
This year, co-founder of fashion brand Fella Hamilton, Sharon Hamilton, took on the challenge of pivoting her 51-year-old ladieswear brand to manufacture and sell personal protective equipment (PPE).
Like many in the fashion industry with manufacturing based in China, Hamilton became aware of the need to diversify early this year.
“Our business strategy was to diversify in utilising other country production and factories and to increase our Australian made percentages,” she says.
So, without any prior experience in making PPE, Hamilton embarked on a period of research and consulted with different government health departments before launching the Fella Healthwear range for both medical professionals and the public.
Hamilton says she received 50,000 orders in four days when mask-wearing became mandatory in Victoria because her business was one of few manufacturers making masks in Australia.
“We had to restructure our whole mail order and dispatch department to cope with this unprecedented volume,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton met the overwhelming demand by employing more staff and setting up additional workstations to facilitate faster processing.
The successful pivot to PPE wear attracted a lot of media attention with SBS, ABC and national news outlets all wanting to hear Hamilton’s story.
Hamilton attributes her ability to generate new ideas to thinking about every facet of the business, being informed, and having lots of discussions with staff and peers.
“I generate new ideas by reading our trade magazines and looking at what is happening overseas, by thinking ahead of the ‘what might happen’ so that the business is positioned ready to go.”