While most teenagers are deciding what to wear, Claire Stephenson is deciding what clothes will sell, for her own online store, Jane Alexander.
When did you get the idea to start your own clothing label?
From a very young age I have always expressed an interest in fashion and experimented with various styles. One year it was Punk, then Hippie, the next Vintage and then onto Indie. It had been an aspiration of mine to start a small clothing label since going to the Forster markets when I was in Year 9.
I had been telling myself for a while that I would eventually do it, collecting unique pieces of clothing from here and there, just building up a collection in my closet – until one day I had no more room and decided that it was time.
I asked a few of my friends who I thought fit the ‘look’ I was aiming to achieve to model the clothing and invited them to my place for Jane Alexander’s first ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ photo shoot, and the rest is history. It feels amazing to actually have it up and running after two years of dreaming.
Tell us a bit about Jane Alexander; what kind of fashion do you offer?
Jane Alexander specialises in pre-loved clothing. I travel between Sydney and Port every few months to source my stock, based on a mixture of vintage and modern trend. I am studying Textiles and Design at St.Columba Anglican School at the moment, and it is by far my favourite subject.
I’m hoping to make and design my own clothes for Jane Alexander in addition to the pre-loved stock in the near future. I have also recently had many requests from customers for male clothing. I have every intention of branching out into male clothing, and it will be available soon.
Is it a challenge to fit in the online store with your school work?
To be honest, yes. I am half way through Year 11 now and fast approaching the HSC, but I try as hard as I can to find a balance between the two and work at my part time job. I often find myself working all day Saturday, getting home and checking on the store, and then homework for the rest of the night. It can be hard and stressful, but I’m learning to multitask.
How has the experience been so far, and what does the future hold?
At first it was fairly overwhelming. I found myself in a sea of buyers, with a late night of packaging ahead of me. However, now that I’m starting to get into the groove of things, I can’t be any happier with how it is progressing. I get to organise and direct the photo shoots, while being a photographer all at the same time. I’m doing what I love to do, and I couldn’t ask for much more. As for the future, with one lot of DOLLY magazine work experience weeks under my belt and hopefully more to come, I hope to attend UTS for Media and Communications in Journalism and continue Jane Alexander at the Glebe Markets.
How can our readers purchase your clothing?
To purchase Jane Alexander clothing, just head to www.facebook.com/JaneAlexanderShop – and comment ‘SOLD’ on the items you wish to purchase pictures; I then personal message the customer with bank details etc. At this moment in time it is a fairly personal approach to financial management, but I am investigating various avenues to improve and advance the payment method.
Did you have anyone’s help or mentor you when it came to starting your own business?
The main person who has helped me throughout the Jane Alexander production has been my mum. She has never pushed me to do anything and has allowed me to promote and create the store on my own, while only guiding me when I have asked. In addition to general business advice, my mum has been extremely helpful with the financial aspect of the business. Plus, she’s by far the best shopping buddy/trolley.
What advice would you give to any other young person thinking about starting a business?
Anyone can build their own business; just remember that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. It’s all about being self motivated and determined. You can never over do self promoting and advertising. However, if you’re fairly young like me, it is important to make sure you don’t take on too big of a project that could interfere with school. Balance is the key – and a strong work ethic.
Why the name Jane Alexander?
I’ve surprisingly gotten this question a lot. About a year ago, I started a fashion blog called Alexander Supertramp (name from Indie film Into the Wild). Then last year I heard the song Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
In the middle of the song, the two singers address one another, and I thought their names were ‘Jane’ and ‘Alexander’; so I then changed my blog URL to www.jane-alexander-suptertramp.tumblr.com and the blog name to ‘Jane Alexander’. However, I later found out that the female’s name is actually Jade, but regardless, I had already accumulated a large fan base on my blog and wanted to carry that over to the shop. So I decided to keep the name familiar – therefore Jane Alexander.
Thanks Claire. All the best.