Happy with his name, naturally happy, meet Shona Joy Thatcher who celebrates 20 years of his name who is ready to use.
U-turn and SHONA JOY the story began in 2000 at the Bondi Beach and Paddington markets, and from there Thatcher designed a collection of hand-painted t-shirt capsules for Belinda Seper’s Corner Shop in Paddington. It was immediately loved and Christy Turlington who, while in Sydney, bought it in every color. CT has good eyes! Since then there has been no turning back and SHONA JOY has become a brand full of boutiques throughout the country.
And how far Shona has come since the simple tee. The label has grown and now serves up to 5 ready-to-use collections every year filled internationally in leading stores from Harrods, Revolve and Intermix to Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales.
The good part? Shona graciously gave us an easy and stylish glamor, the type that you can wear to dress and immediately appear (and feel) amazing, special quality and rare. So, as well as flirty silk dresses, expect pretty casual jumpsuits, and mini skirts to floor length that suits your mood. There are also wedding edits – only cool brides and bridesmaids need to register. There are plenty of white silk dresses and colorful complementary silk dresses for your girl’s gang.
Shona Joy Thatcher shares her brand story and what we can expect as she develops the brand further.
Felicity Carter: What is your first memory of fashion?
Shona Joy Thatcher: I think I always feel connected and excited about fashion. I love watching my mom get ready for an event or party and I like my input into what she is wearing. I started collecting classic items in vintage shops and treasure hunts in the market since I was a child and I continue to be inspired by pieces of the past. I always get mom to make my clothes as a young teenager.
FC: How, when, why did you enter the industry?
SJT: I started business in 2000 with market stalls in Bondi Beach and Paddington. At that time many Australian designers carved their way and used the market as a platform to test their aesthetics. I got my first big break at Belinda Seper ‘Shop Corner‘in Sydney, launching a collection of hand caps capsules – Christy Turlington finally buys one in each color!
Although I initially entered the fashion industry because of my love for the creative process of designing collections from beginning to end, I have grown to love the challenges, excitement and surprise of the business side.
FC: How do you summarize aesthetics?
SJT: Our brand embodies a neutral color palette and natural fabrication that signifies a clear Australian identity – always with a hint of bohemian glamor typical of the 70s. Our collections generally do not follow the trends of the season, but remain true to our aesthetics. All of them need to speak in a natural, classic and unpretentious tone.
FC: Who are your customers?
SJT: We represent an Australian girl – she is a global traveler who worships beaches, sun and chase and eternal summer. He is intelligent, inspired and passionate. His appearance is relaxed but subtle, feminine and natural.
FC: What is the foundation of your company?
SJT: Our passion is designing for real women and creating dresses to celebrate life. I believe our success is our appreciation that you don’t have to spend your life working, not even your biggest celebration is breaking the bank. We don’t believe in disposable clothing, so our mission is to design dresses that will be valued as part of your clothing forever.
FC: Which was the first time you designed it and how did it happen?
SJT: Apart from simple shirts, my first collection was sold to David Jones. We are a small team of only 2 people and have a mixture of silk and cotton voile and prints that are adjusted in an easy and volume silhouette. We had 94% sales through in our first week with one style – I found out through a friend who showed me that the GM of the DJ had been mentioned in a story to the press – it was a pretty great moment. Suddenly I thought; right, i can actually do this.
FC: How has your company grown over the years?
SJT: The Shona Joy brand is quickly becoming the market leader in the bridesmaids’ room, with our original focus on evening gowns, but over the past five years, the growth of our e-commerce business has allowed us to truly be ours. Our use of natural fiber and growth in our resort category has seen the evolution and increase of aspirations that offer day and night brands that refer to major international trends, while remaining consistent with our unique, yet bohemian and feminine modern aesthetics.
Growing directly to the consumer side of our business is empowering for financial reasons, but more importantly to enable us to connect directly to our customers. We now have a truer understanding of who he is, what he likes, where he uses our brand, where we want to go with that brand. Social media has enabled and opened conversations – it’s fun to hear directly from them – and we both learn where we are wrong and how we can become better.
As a successful and self-funded business, we feel excited to create awareness of the causes that make us feel connected and able to make important small changes – especially those that affect women, children and the environment. It is very important for us to strive to make a difference and help our community develop. We are also now in a position to be able to make small changes and to increase awareness of both environmental and social campaigns. We are in the process of launching our new website, which will allow us to tell these stories and be more transparent with our customers about our ethical + sustainable road map.
FC: What has been the highlight of your career to date?
SJT: Appointed by prestigious accounts like Harrods, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom is an important event. I was really looking forward to the launch of our new site recently because it will show more about who we are and will be a great platform to showcase all areas of our brand. We will feature truly interesting journals and videos – it will bring our customers on a journey with us and give us the opportunity to share where our ideas and inspiration come from and explain what we do to become better – a lot more than just a store e-commerce.
FC: What is the best advice you have ever given when handling this industry?
SJT: I actually have a few – a few of these suggestions that I think I have given over the years, and I still remind myself today:
- You can’t be good at everything – find out what works best for you, then hire the best people you can to fill the gap. Make sure you retain these people in your business through growth, skills improvement, and internal promotion.
- Trust your instincts – You must not let others tell you how and why to do things, everything must feel right for you at any given time.
- It’s just clothes – we don’t save lives, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Do your best because there are other challenges around the corner.
- You need to quickly determine what makes you different, what you do best for and what your customers will come for.
For us, this is our bridesmaid’s business, which has continued to develop over the years.
FC: What is in the future?
SJT: Having time outside the office during COVID-19 allows more headspaces to think about the direction and future of the business. We focus on areas that we feel we can do better and immediately launch some exciting new categories!
Shop brands on them website and in top-level shops included Harrods, Neiman Marcus, Revolve, Intermix, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, and Bloomingdales.