Today isn't the first time we've spoken about Posse on Who What Wear Australia, and it absolutely won't be the last. We first introduced you to the Australian brand 12 months ago when it launched quietly on Instagram (where we initially spotted it). Six months later we caught up with the label's founder, Danielle Mulham, for an installment of Career Code and to learn more about the brains behind the brand. Fast-forward another six months, and the label just turned over one million dollars in sales, in its first year of trade. It's a figure we can barely comprehend, from the label that launched with just a $30,000 investment. Most Posse pieces retail for under $200, which means the brand has turned over a lot of product in such a short amount of time.
In an effort to understand more about Posse's success, and celebrate the brand's first major milestone, we caught up with founder and director Danielle Mulham, to find out how to label grew so quickly, to become the success it is today.
Keep scrolling to learn how Mulham launched Posse with almost no experience, and find out what's next for the brand.
Who What Wear Australia: Tell us a bit about yourself—your background, where you grew up, what you studied?
Danielle Mulham: I grew up in the Northern Beaches, and I went to high school in Manly—then I went off to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. I completed a three-year bachelor degree in design, majoring in styling and creative direction. So while I was there, I interned at numerous publications, and assisted stylists to get more hands-on industry experience. After that I went off as a freelance stylist and started an online publication with a girlfriend (The Vault), and stayed there for about three year.
Posse came along next—I just wanted to do something completely different and challenge myself, and I was in Bali when I started to think about it. I had been going back and forth to Bali for a few years and developing relationships—mostly for personal reasons—getting my own clothes made over there. Girlfriends kept asking me where pieces came from, and so I’d tell them I made them myself in Bali, and realised I could give this a go—try and make a little business out of it. So I contacted a few people I knew in Bali, and told them what I wanted to do, and then started making a few samples, and one thing lead to another…
At the start, it was all me. I was working on every single facet of the business. That was the most challenging part, especially starting everything overseas. I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never had any fashion design experience—I was more on the other side of things—styling and creative direction. But I always had a passion for it.
WWW: How did you go about actually getting the brand off the ground, without any experience?
DM: Through my leather tailor that I’d normally visit, he introduced me to my ‘Bali mother’ and now she’s my production manager over there. She’s Balinese, and he took me to her and said "I really trust her, I think she’d be a great fit for your brand," and she’s become a teacher and mentor for me. She’s been in the fashion industry, working in manufacturing, for years and years. At the start, I had done a few sketches myself, and verbally talked her through the designs, and then she would go off and make the patterns. I explained to her I only knew briefly from start-to-finish how to do this, and so she taught me along the way. Together we did sampling, and I went to source all the fabrications. It was big stuff, I was really throwing myself in the deep end.
WWW: Does it feel like you’re always on holiday, being based in Bali for a large portion of the year?
DM: Definitely not! It’s very fast paced. I feel like I’m on holidays when I’m back in Australia, actually! It’s definitely head down, and hit the ground running over there—very, very full on. But it’s great, we have an amazing production team, and all of our fabrics are sourced locally. I’ve got a tight knit team—all women, and they’re all fantastic.
WWW: How long did it take to get your brand off the ground?
DM: There were a few hiccups along the way (to be expected), so it took about eight months to get it up and running. I was doing all of it myself and asking friends questions and teaching myself all the different facets of business.
WWW: You spoke about having a mentor in Bali—do you find it helpful and rewarding to have someone you can lean on for support?
DM: She’s an incredible person that’s always about giving back—she isn’t about making profit, she’s just so happy with a simple life—she’s taught me so much, she’s such a humble woman. I think it’s so important to have as many mentors as you can, and collect advice from everywhere you can. It’s great to be surrounded by family and friends who are passionate about what you’re doing.
WWW: Your business turned over one million dollars in its first year—what do you put that success down to?
DM: I think it comes down to creating a point of difference. I wanted Posse to stand out from other brands, and you’ve got to stay competitive. There are so many amazing young designers out there, and with the rise of social media, it’s so much easier now to get your brand out there, but having that point of difference is most important. I think the reason why we have succeeded is due to our organic growth—we’ve had international interest from girls such as Lucy Williams, Camille Charriere, and international publications like InStyle UK, Elle UK, Vogue Korea, Vogue Japan—everyone jumped on board and it was so fantastic. We had the '70s Roundie Bag that really helped launch the brand—it was so popular, and took us to the next level.
WWW: What are you influenced by, in terms of your design and pushing the brand forward—what motivates you?
DM: My biggest influence is my posse of girlfriends—and also the meaning behind the brand name—we all love vintage fashion, swap and share pieces, and all wear them in different ways. I love seeing how girls wear a piece so differently, and I think that’s an inspiration for me.
WWW: Is launching Posse something that you’ve always wanted to do?
DM: I definitely didn’t think that I’d be doing anything like this to be honest—I always wanted to be on the other side—doing photoshoots and styling—I guess I’m still doing that now, but I get a broader spectrum of what I’m doing now. I always had a passion for design but it was more of a hobby—something I did for myself—but to be able to do it as a full-time job is pretty amazing.
WWW: What’s next for the brand?
DM: We’re more looking at doing some international collaborations in the coming year, and we’re looking at doing a pop-up store in the US which will be very exciting.
We’re also in the middle of trying to reduce our carbon footprint and promoting conscious consumerism, and looking at every facet of the business to see how we can best make a difference best we can, year after year. It’s hard to start off with, but if we start with the small things and make a difference—that’s the future of fashion.
WWW: Who would you love to see wearing Posse?
DM: F the start we’ve always said Alexa Chung. She’s the ideal Posse girl. She’s effortless, she doesn’t try too hard—the clothes don’t wear her.