Q&A: The keys to making brand success as smooth as silk

This week we talk to Sophie Doyle, the entrepreneur behind the silk clothing brand The Fable. A former marketing executive, Sophie quit her job and embarked on an entrepreneurial path which led her to discover, and be inspired by, the quality silk fabrics of India. With a passion for quality fabrics and a rich experience in digital marketing, she was able to grow The Fable into a multimillion-dollar business that it is today.

ISB: How did your decision to leave your job lead you to the trajectory of becoming an entrepreneur?

SD: In 2015 I left my job without a plan, but I knew I was ready for a change and a new adventure. I travelled to India and ended up in Jaipur, where I stumbled across a textile factory that was owned and run by a woman. I asked them if they could help me perfect the silk shirt. Silk shirts have always been a staple in my wardrobe. They look polished, can be dressed up or down, and are trans-seasonal. However, they also require dry cleaning or they won’t last long and that gets expensive. I went into the factory for a few days to work with them to see what we could come up with. It took a few tries, but we found a stunning, lush and thick silk de chine fabric that is machine washable. We perfected the cut so that it is a relaxed fit but is flattering on many people. I loved the product so much that when I came back to Sydney, I sold my car for $7k and used that money to purchase my first order.

ISB: What makes The Fable’s silk shirts stand out from the competition?

SD: The first thing is the quality. As many of my customers purchase The Fable shirts for work, I wanted to create a product that was made to last. The product can also be dressed up or down easily with a few accessories so it is the ultimate staple for those who like the “desk-to-dinner” efficiency. The next thing is the cut of the shirts. I spent a painstaking amount of time perfecting this shirt so that it looks great on every body type. It is a relaxed fit so the wearer will feel good, but the cut is very flattering. I also have used colours that are not shocking, but their tones are unique. We have a navy, moss sea green, burnt orange, beige, black, white. All standard colours, but when you see them in the flesh, they have something special about them. While we specialise in silk shirts, due to customer request we have just bought out silk t-shirts and we have launched a cotton poplin range that is $99 per shirt. I wanted to create something for under $100 that looks great and again, is made to last. Given the current economic climate, it was a good move in my opinion.

ISB: In what way has digital marketing helped in growing your business?

SD: Digital marketing is everything for my business. In fact, I wouldn’t call myself a fashion designer at all.  On a day-to-day basis, digital marketing is where I spend my time. Understanding Meta and how it works is essential for an e-commerce business. Because of Meta my brand has reached enough people to turn over several million per year, and 55 per cent of my customers are repeat buyers. This is both due to them loving the product and because through EDms, social media and digital marketing, they are constantly reminded of us.

ISB: Given the demands of being an entrepreneur, how do you avoid being ‘burned out’?

SD: I just had my second baby a month ago. The juggle is real! I do have a babysitter for a few hours a day so that I can focus on work and also try to get in time for a walk or yoga most days. Just having the space to focus and get my work done makes such a difference.

ISB: What are your plans for The Fable in the next couple of years?

SD: We have a few new products in the works.  We always listen to customers in regard to launches and new colours.  We’ve had a few requests for silk pants and shorts so watch the space.

ISB: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in this business journey that an aspiring entrepreneur should take to heart?

SD: The first one is to make sure your product is good. A good product will likely mean that your buyers will keep coming back and they will tell others about you. My second is to keep on top of Meta. The algorithms and features change from time to time, but understanding how it works is essential for a successful eCommerce business.