Reed Gift Fairs joins Sally Dunn, Managing Director of Annabel Trends and daughter of Anne Dawe, who dreamed up the concept of Annabel Trends with its bright 60’s colours and bold patterns from her kitchen table. Sally shares with us the challenges she faces in day-to-day business, how she deals with an ever-changing retail industry and what she would be doing if world of textiles hadn’t been her calling…
How and why did the brand begin? Tell us a little bit about your background & journey in what led you to start Annabel Trends.
My mother Annie Dawe started the business in 1966. She started making soft toys for a school fete and they were a big hit. It was then suggested that she sell them to kids stores. It worked out to be a labour of love; lots of work for little return, so she turned her hand to making something a little less time consuming – aprons and kitchen accessories. She started small, using her housekeeping money to buy fabric to then make the orders at night. One of her first big orders was for Georges department store (now closed down)….she was ecstatic! They loved her use of bright bold sixties colours that made a big statement! Over the years she has had an amazing eye for finding products that are unique and new to the market. I got involved in the 90’s, starting as a sales agent then moving into the factory to learn production and purchasing and finally to taking over the operation in 2007. I started my working life as a home economics teacher so the love of textiles was always there.
Why did you enter into our GALA award program? What does GALA mean for you and your business?
Our industry is so diverse with some amazing ideas and we love that there is a forum for great products to be recognised. We wouldn’t miss being a part of it.
Any new and exciting products coming for 2016?
We have so many new products being launched in 2016 in many great colour palettes: pinks, navy blues and mint greens across all of our categories. We have new decorative bunnies for kids rooms, gorgeous pom pom throw rugs and great new plush Aussie bird toys for kids, to name a few.
Will we see you at Reed Gift Fairs this year? When and where can we expect this?
We plan to exhibit at 3 fairs in 2016: Melb FEB, Syd FEB, and Melb AUG.
What pieces from your collections are most popular with your customers?
Some of our oldest products are our most popular. Australian Gardeners hand balm, which we get lovely letters about all the time from our customers and our Sprout Gardening Gloves are wonderful products that we sell so many of. The new Watermate bottle range is currently on the top of our best seller list.
How do you see the retail industry and its trends currently? Any predictions for the 2016 homeware trends?
I always say I wish I had a crystal ball!! We are big risk takers and go with gut feeling a lot when it comes to selecting products.
Brands you admire?
Any company that manufactures in Australia (there aren’t that many anymore) and supports our local industry. Providing jobs and providing quality products is always something to admire.
What are the key challenges you are currently facing within the business?
The industry is getting much tougher to work in. The larger chain stores are jumping in fast and buying direct from China, so it’s hard to stay ahead of the pack. The internet has made the world a very small place – and it forces innovation. Which is a great thing. For us personally, it’s tough keeping Australian made products in our range. They are expensive to make and there are so many cheap disposable lookalikes that attract the consumer. We are forced to buy offshore and this opens us up to new challenges such as IP law…where do I start?!
If you weren’t running the business what would you be doing?
Winners will be announced at the GALA evening on Saturday 20 February 2016 at Dockside Pavilion.
Join us for the retail industry night of nights…
Saturday 20 February
Dockside Pavilion, Darling Harbour
6.45pm – 11pm
Held at the stunning Dockside Pavilion, GALA is the perfect night to get your team together, let your hair down and celebrate all the hard work that went into 2015. Tickets include all drinks, dinner, entertainment and a fun environment to network and celebrate this great industry.
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For more information visit our website or call 02 9422 8686