As the driving force behind Halcyon State, Leigh Gibson is mixing technology with fashion.
Halcyon State is an online boutique stocking high-end clothing, accessories and shoes created by Australian and New Zealand designers.
Gibson founded the business in June 2010, and has been operating out of Melbourne suburb Middle Park since January 1 this year.
In March, Halcyon State was named “one to watch” at the 2012 StartupSmart Awards, highlighting its huge potential in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.
Gibson talks to StartupSmart about how she’s raising the stakes of the fashion industry.
What inspired you to launch Halcyon State? What niche did you identify?
Friends and workmates would comment on my clothes while I was working in London in 2009 – I love wearing Australian designer clothes – and ask where they could buy those labels.
There were some Australian online retailers then, but I hadn’t found one that offered the labels I preferred.
When I moved back to Australia in 2010, I approached the owner of my favourite boutique in Melbourne about collaborating on building an online version of her store.
She was keen to be involved but was already fully committed to her existing business, so helped me find my feet in the fashion world, and is still involved as a mentor and guide for buying new stock.
My 14-plus years of experience as an IT consultant and project manager gave me the confidence to enter a new industry.
How did you fund the business?
Halcyon State is 100% self-funded. I spent 10 months contracting as an IT project manager in order to generate seed funding.
Costs on the IT side were quite low – less than $10,000 including equipment. The lion’s share of the funding has gone towards purchasing stock and generating beautiful images.
New boutiques need to pay for all stock prior to delivery. All new stock is photographed in the office studio using a professional model so customers have consistent, beautiful imagery.