Mr & Mrs Styles

Aaron and Penny Styles

How Frank helped Mr & Mrs Styles succeed in the material world.

Penny and Aaron Styles are accomplished designers with names like Moochi, Huffer, Superette and Stolen Girlfriends Club on their CVs. Their creative flair is matched by their production expertise so they set up a company – Mr & Mrs Styles – to handle offshore manufacturing for New Zealand fashion brands. On top of that, they launched their own labels: Remain and Just Another Fisherman. The fashion landscape is littered with companies that burned bright before crashing and burning. How have Penny and Aaron avoided this fate?

10-second summary

  • Challenge: How can two talented and hard-working fashion designers develop their outsourced garment manufacturing business without taking on too much risk?
  • Solution : Equip them with the tools for effective cash flow management so they have the confidence to invest for growth. Provide guidance around opportunity cost in order to better match their resources with market realities.
  • Result: Mr & Mrs Styles enjoys solid margins in the competitive and highly volatile fashion market, while growing and deepening the client and supplier relationships that drive long-term value.
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The challenge

Cash flow issues can cripple any company but fashion businesses are particularly vulnerable. They’re subject to a volatile and brutally protracted cash cycle, with large sums flowing out to fund next season’s stock long before there’s any return. On top of this, there’s forex volatility to manage. Business owners have to shoulder a lot of risk, which makes it tricky to plan and fund for growth.

Penny and Aaron could see the opportunities. All they needed were the tools to take their business to the next level.

 

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Solution

How Frank helped.

 

Keeping cash in clear view – and under control

Before Mr & Mrs Styles came to us they were using a part-time bookkeeper, and essentially flying blind. Without real-time reporting of their cash position, they

were unable to see whether they had the capacity to invest for growth. Frank set them up with Xero and gave them the reporting tools to understand, plan and manage their cash position. This, in turn, gave them the confidence to take on staff and go for growth.

 

Shedding a client to grow the business

Penny and Aaron felt that one particular customer – who represented 50% of their turnover at the time – was holding them back. We helped them understand and analyse the financial implications of letting this client go. The business took a short-term dip but rebounded strongly once resources were re-allocated to more productive, long-term opportunities. On top of that, their concentration exposure was reduced significantly.

 

Sticking to what they’re good at

Frank worked with Penny and Aaron to recruit the right finance people to take some of the day-to-day admin burden off their shoulders. For instance, we helped them hire financial administration staff so they could focus on customer relationships and the creative side of their business. As Penny says,

“when we have good people, work tends to be good.”

 

Opportunity knocks

There’s an opportunity cost to everything you do in business, so you have to allocate resources to activities that bring the greatest rewards. In our conversations with Penny and Aaron, we continually asked questions – what’s the next most important hire? Where do you get the biggest bang for your buck? These discussions meant the recruitment of new staff could be staged in line with opportunities and resources.

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The results

Penny and Aaron are good at design and good at client relationships. Now they have even more time to invest in these critical areas because they aren’t being distracted and overwhelmed by the financial admin side of their business. More importantly, they now have the confidence to grow their team and commit to new contracts without the nagging fear that they’re taking on too much risk.

As a business, Mr & Mrs Styles has grown to the point where it now manages production for some of New Zealand’s best-known fashion brands. The owners have been liberated to continue developing their own creative labels, Remain and Just Another Fisherman. They also have more time to spend with family, doing the things they love.

In their own words:

What problems does Frank help us solve? Cash flow, without a doubt. They give us guidance around resourcing, what we can do, what's important and what we should be spending our money on.

Without Frank’s help, a whole lot of things would be different. We probably wouldn't push ourselves as much or have the confidence to do some of the things we do. They give us lots of confidence and that feeling of security.