August 17, 2022 5 min read
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the city of Melbourne, Australia (where She Lion is located) has been estimated at more than 79K job losses and $23B in an economic downturn in 2021 (compared with 2019).
Our Founder, Kate, wanted to find a way to support local makers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the linchpins of the process was the incredible team at CGT manufacturing.
Phil and Vicky were instrumental in bringing our 100% Australian-made cotton sweatshirts to life, generously opening their contact list and hearts to Kate and the She Lion team. We sat down with Phil to chat about the pandemic's impact on their business and how the Australian fashion industry has changed in his decades of experience…
My name is Phillip Skorsis, and I am the Director of CGT Australia. We are a family-run clothing manufacturer in Melbourne that has been operating since 1983.
We strongly focus on ethical and sustainable practices in the garment-making industry.
Initially, there was a lot of fear, I guess, of the unknown and how the pandemic would play out in Australia.
We wondered how long it would go on, and there was minimal end in sight for a while.
“Our mind tends to wander, and you can't help but think of worst-case scenarios.”
In a situation like this, work and personal life go hand in hand, especially owning your own business; it's not a matter of just finding a new job - it's your livelihood.
During the extended stage 4 lockdown, we were unable by law to create for fashion brands, which was extremely challenging for the business.
We were, however, allowed to produce PPE products like gowns and masks for government tenders and hospitals, so that kept us busy enough to have our staff working.
Owning your own business comes with many responsibilities, but it also opens you up for much more. I love that every day is different and that we work closely with Australian designers to help bring their visions to life.
We can see first-hand the joy that our collaborative creations bring to people. I'd say that's my favourite part about running CGT.
During 2020 and 2021, we could not have our clients come into the factory, which was a big adjustment for us.
We run our factory as if it were our home and our clients are like family.
Our door is always open; not having that face-to-face contact for the first time in nearly 40 years was difficult, and it felt foreign to us.
As mentioned earlier, we broadened our range to include the production of PPE for hospitals and government tenders. This was the first time we'd had to sidestep fashion to adapt to external situations.
While it was such a challenging time, we were grateful to be able to stay open and support our staff.
We've also implemented new rules for visitors - we request that everyone let us know when they will be arriving for us to manage numbers in the factory and keep the community safe.
It's just little things that we now do to ensure our business is as safe as possible for everyone.
When you own your own business, it is personal.
As a business owner, navigating such an unknown situation made me realise how vital our fashion is to our community.
When you've been doing things a certain way for so long, and then something like a pandemic, it makes you realise how things are not always promised. That we can take certain situations for granted.
“You need to adapt to survive. I've adapted by embracing the unknown and taking it day by day rather than being rigid and trying to control an outcome.”
Being grateful for our clients and family has also really helped.
Support local has always been a big one for us, even before COVID. Over the years, we've seen the production of many prominent Australian brands taken offshore or the influx of large overseas brands landing in Australia.
Supporting local means supporting your friend, your brother, your mate, and if it's someone you don't know, it doesn't matter - support them too. Community is everything.
We're all in it together at the end of the day.
Now more than ever, we need to get behind Australian businesses - I believe that people are becoming aware of this. It is one of the small comforts to emerge from the pandemic.
Get out there and give it a go. Never give up. You CAN do it!
Yes and no. Our focus is very much day by day. However, it's essential to adapt and be ready should anything like this (or another lockdown come about).
Additionally, the fashion industry in Australia has always had a shifting landscape, so this is nothing new to us.
On a positive note, we've seen many new enquiries for start-up brands and Australian brands returning to production onshore.
Our phones are running hot!
I'm hopeful that the shift will have a strong focus on sustainable slow fashion ethically made in Australia.
Adapt, don't get complacent, listen to your clients, be kind and compassionate, keep moving and looking into new opportunities, and be grateful.
Aside from working with new and existing clients, we feel a sense of optimism in the air.
People feel inspired to create and push the envelope, and we're just excited to be back doing what we do best; making fashion.
You can watch the journey of how the sweatshirts came to be below. Grab some tissues though!
August 17, 2022 3 min read
Clothe Creative and Ela were such a key part to ensuring the fit and quality of our locally made sweaters was second to none.
We were privileged to sit down with Ela to discuss how her business has been affected in the past two years and to learn more about the staying competitive in the fashion industry…
March 04, 2022 7 min read
Support Local: Meet Kate Johansson – Founder of KOJA.
We’re busy enough without having to spend hours trying to make decisions about what we should eat when we're craving a snack!
Lucky for us, KOJA (and Kate J) has done the hard work for us and designed a range of nutritious, satisfying and oh so delicious healthy snack bars.
Learn more about Kate's business journey, experience through the pandemic to date, and how she support's local.
March 01, 2022 3 min read