First Loan April 2019- 5K
Second Loan May 2020 – 16K
Cara Melzack launched her women’s knitwear brand Cara and the Sky in October 2019, after securing a government Start Up Loan with Fashion Angel.
The affordable knitwear is all designed and made in the UK and has received rave reviews since launching.
Cara had over 10 years’ fashion buying experience specialising in knitwear, so has in-depth knowledge of this area and of her target customer. She had always wanted her own label, but being made redundant from her last job gave her the push she needed to actually do it.
She noticed there was a gap in the market for fun, high quality yet affordable knitwear, but also wanted to address the issue of over consumption. She decided to do this by only producing small quantities here in the UK, and to try to be a sustainable as possible throughout the supply chain.
She had some savings and family support, but needed additional finance in order to start the business with enough funding for the necessary PR and marketing. “When I was looking into funding, I came across Start Up Loans and Fashion Angel via Google. The Start Up Loan and support from Fashion Angel really helped me get off my feet and gave me the confidence to move forward with starting the brand”. The investment in PR & marketing paid off as her garments receive regular editorial coverage from magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and is worn by many influencers.
“Fashion Angel’s support was invaluable in enabling me to receive the Start Up loan funding. My Business Adviser Vivienne Austin was an amazing help getting my business plan in the right place to be approved for the loan. It was amazing to have the founder Alison Lewy at the launch and a huge boost of confidence that she bought one of the jumpers on the night!!”
In order to test the market she launched with a small capsule knitwear collection to gauge customer demand selling both Direct to Consumer (D2C) and Business To Business (B2B) . Cara And The Sky is stocked in independent retailers as well as her selling on their own website and marketplace platforms such as Silk Fred ,Depop, Joules & Wolf & Badger. This omni-channel approach helps get the brand exposure, whilst benefiting from the better profit margins achieved when selling direct to consumer. To support this growth Cara applied for the second loan which helped finance the new collection and increase marketing spend
The branded faired very well during the pandemic – it’s casual aesthetic and affordable price points meant that demand increased considerably as consumers were looking for more relaxed clothing while working at home & sales increased across the board. She took on a UK sales agent and a Canadian distributor to build the B2B side, and quickly grew from 5 stockists to supplying 65 stores. The brand was nominated for Drapers top womenswear independent brand 2021.
Joining the Wolf & Badger marketplace in A/W 21 was a game changer and generated 300-400 orders a month
With the additional volume in sales Cara took the decision to outsource distribution to a fulfilment house. The logistics side has been the business’s biggest challenge “Finding a reliable fulfilment partner that offers a good service and can manage international sales has been problematic and we’ve had to work with a few before we found the right partner”
Although wholesale will always be an important part of the business, and the brand continues to work with agents/distributors and has a presence on online wholesale platforms as well as tradeshows, the focus is now on building customer loyalty and to grow the D2C sales.
Over the next few years the aim is to build sales though the Cara and the Sky website and grow the international customer base as well as launch summer collections so revenue generation is more even throughout the year, as well as increase product categories and become an international lifestyle brand
Cara’s advice to entrepreneurs: “Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Build your networks and surround yourself with support by joining relevant groups like Fashion Angel’s WhatsApp group. Know when to let go and outsource as although it may seem like a saving to do everything yourself, but can cost more in the long run .”
Follow her journey on www.caraandthesky.com
See how a Start Up Loan can help you start your dream business.
Keep updated with industry news, events and special offers