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Smart Business Insights - Learn from the success of Catherine Metcalfe (The Ark Clothing Company)

Q&A With Christine Metcalfe (The Ark Clothing Co.)

Sergio Alderuccio

Christine is one of the founding directors of The Ark Clothing Co., established in 1990.

After completing a diploma in fashion, Christine headed up the Fashion Design department at Footscray Secondary College, before establishing a small childrenswear label, Le Kids. The label took off and during this time, a chance meeting with another creative spirit Jenny Layton resulted in the founding of Oz Ark, (children’s label) later to become The Ark Clothing label, (womens wear).

Christine’s expertise and acumen in developing a highly successful product resulted in the Ark becoming one of the few 100% Australia made fashion success stories in recent years, while establishing itself as an iconic brand.

During this time Christine was a member of the advisory board for  RMIT’s fashion courses. Christine also had a key role in developing a paper for submission to the government providing recommendations for ensuring the ongoing survival of the Australian fashion industry, an area she still remains passionate about.

Other achievements while a co-director of The Ark, include establishing a strong social enterprise arm of the company, an internship program for local and international students and project opportunities for final year fashion graduates.

The Ark grew through strong organic growth, no bank loans and a freedom to create the rules. The Ark developed a culture considered to be unique for its forward thinking, flexibility and love of operating outside the “square”. Its operations included everything from design, manufacture, wholesale, retail and a successful e-com division.

After selling the company earlier in 2016, Christine continues to be involved in the fashion industry and is part of a steering committee for the Council of Fashion and Textiles in establishing the “Curated” pop up concept, launching in 2017, providing emerging fashion designers with ongoing mentoring and a platform to build their brand.

How to Make a Partnership Work

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on the importance of defining job roles in order to build a sustainable partnership and successful business.

Philanthropy and Company Culture

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on philanthropy and how giving back can positively shape your company culture.

Developing a Unique Culture

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on developing an authentic and sustainable culture.

Clarity is Power

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on why being clear about who your customer is, and how to best serve them, is key to building a successful retail business.

Getting Staff Engagement

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on how to engage your staff, ensuring a committed and loyal team.

Learning to Let Go

Christine Metcalfe, co-founder and former owner of The Ark Clothing Co., on the importance of handing over the reins and empowering others to develop in order for your business to grow.

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