WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Written on the 6 June 2011

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

TWO local pyjama designers have launched their ranges in time for winter and are targeting separate markets with an array of bold colours and chic designs.

The Frankie & Nicole range of fashionable nightwear has been launched by designer Nicole Dixon for adults while Nicole Standbridge (pictured with songs Ethan and Kobi) has developed her Neka Style children’s range.

Frankie & Nicole is creating demand in the fast-growing upmarket sleepwear industry with both a men’s and women’s range of contemporary and stylish pyjamas.

Having dabbled in jewellery design, Dixon is a jewel in the ultra-competitive fashion industry. Alongside her brother Francesco, aka Frankie, she created a men’s T-shirt range several years ago.

Thriving on the creativity but lacking the passion for men’s T-shirts, her attention quickly turned to women’s sleepwear after discovering a gap in the market.

Dixon says one of the Frankie & Nicole philosophies is to ensure the collection didn’t look similar to those that a 12-year-old would wear.

“When it comes to pyjamas, the market is saturated with either cutesy graphic prints or saucy lingerie style pieces. When I couldn’t find anything in between, I decided to do something about it,” she says.

“I want people to feel confident in their sleepwear and at Frankie & Nicole, our garments are specially designed so you can look and feel great while being completely comfortable and relaxed.”

Dixon is no stranger to the fashion world. In 2005 she was crowned Miss World Queensland and in 2007 she was a finalist in Miss Universe Australia. She is now a presenter on the Nine Network’s Labrats Challenge, alongside Drew Jarvis. She has also walked the catwalk for labels such as Arianne, Gina Kim, Puma, Sunburn and Jorge.

It’s a slightly different market for Gold Coast ‘mumpreneur’ Nicole Standbridge and her Neka Style range. With 13 years marketing experience, her designs are about to be tested from the comfort of her living room.

After moving from Sydney to set-up the Queensland branch of marketing agency Kaleidoscope four years ago, Standbridge went out on a limb to design her range.

Inspired by her young children, the 38-year-old has designed a range of colourful PJs, set up an online retailing website and has signed a manufacturing deal with a Chinese company.

“From firsthand experience I know how much time toddlers spend in pyjamas so I wanted to produce a range that is high quality, soft and super comfy,” says Standbridge.

“I’m not trying to compete with any of the big players like Kmart or Target, but there is definitely a strong market for a mid-range brand of contemporary children’s pyjamas. The animal designs are definitely something children can identify with and I’ve made their faces as large and bright as possible.

“It’s important that the designs represent something that’s a bit different and a short-term goal is to extend the range as the brand and demand grows. Every time I come up with a new design I run it by Ethan (three) and Kobi (two) and make sure they know what the animal is, that they know the noise it makes
and enjoy the graphics.”

With start-up capital of around $60,000 the brand is now looking to ramp up its advertising and PR campaign. A significant cost was undertaking appropriate due diligence on Neka Style’s Chinese manufacturer to ensure the company was compliant with Australian social responsibility and HR standards.

“I sketch the designs here and have a graphic designer who constructs them on to a computer program which we then send across to China. The contract is an on-order basis,” says Standbridge.

“It was quite costly doing the research and due diligence on the manufacturer. I hired a company to examine them and make sure they were who they said they were. We had to ensure they were paying the workers the correct amount of money and provided the right conditions.”

Despite sluggish sales, Standbridge says the business is on track to achieve her goal of $100,000 to $200,000 in sales revenue for the first full operating year.


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