HOW TO RUN A FASHION EMPIRE FROM YOUR LAPTOP (WHILE ALSO TRAVELLING THE WORLD)

You can file Frank & Dollys owners Joel and Rachel Cooper under ‘ridiculously inspiring’.

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You can file Frank & Dollys owners Joel and Rachel Cooper under ‘ridiculously inspiring’. The couple has grown their own fashion label while growing and raising three kids. And now they’re taking their show on the road, running a small clothing empire while travelling the world, fam in tow. Joel and Rachel’s current office is a 17th-century Lakes District cottage in northern England – scroll down to find out how the heck they get it all done.

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Give us the single sentence lowdown on Frank & Dollys. Rachel: We create and design garments with soul, while weaving our way around the world and living a life full of colour.

So, how did Frank & Dollys become a globe-trotting endeavour? Joel: While Rach had been selling her F&D designs for years, it wasn’t until we opened a boutique in Geelong in 2010 that things became serious. While the shop was a mixed bag at first, we quickly realised that Rach’s clothes were the pieces that kept on pulling people in. Rachel: We had a shop and we had our clothing label, but it was the clothing label that we really loved. One day we asked ourselves what the dream actually was and then said, “Let’s do that. Let’s just design beautiful garments, sell them and travel the world.” Simple, right?!

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Especially with three kids along for the ride… Rachel: It’s strange because the whole time we’ve been in business we’ve had kids, so for us it’s a really natural thing to have our children on our hip while we’re working. This is just a slightly different model. We land, set up our home and get into a routine – homeschooling, running the business, exploring – so that we can still find those few hours to get some work done.

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What were some of the biggest challenges of making the transition to this ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle? Joel: A huge thing for us was that so much of our community had been built on face-to-face interactions at our store. We needed to make sure we could maintain that beautiful community even at a distance. But because we were travelling, we could say to people, “Come with us on this journey. We really want to keep in touch.”

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What was a small win that led to a big thing for Frank & Dollys? Joel: In spring last year we found ourselves with this hole in our release schedule. We needed to fill it with something, so Rach took this discarded fabric and created three pieces in about as many days. We called it Moon Gypsy, took some photos, posted them online and literally the entire collection sold out in 24 hours. Rachel: It was unbelievable. This was around the time we were thinking about heading overseas, and having such an unexpected success just gave us the confidence we needed to make the leap.

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What tools have helped you keep the company running during your travels? Joel: I’m embarrassed to tell you how long I ran the business off a clunky spreadsheet. I mentioned that to a businessman friend of mine last year and he was horrified. He put me onto MYOB and was like, “This is going to save you so much time.” And it has been a lifesaver. Rather than slogging through mysterious folders on my desktop, now I can click a few buttons and know that our next BAS is going to take care of itself.

How important is time management for you? Joel: Time is everything. Between the business and the kids and all the adventures we want to have, every second counts. Using MYOB means I can get stuck into the creative work and just let the financial stuff roll along in the background.

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What’s the thing you love most about what you do? Rachel: Everything?! Frank & Dollys is a really great creative outlet for us. It means we can work together, travel around the world and have our kids with us the whole time. What’s not to love?

This excellent story of fashionable globe-trotting was created in collaboration with MYOB to celebrate small wins that lead to big things for small business. Joel and Rachel use cloud-based accounting software from MYOB to get things done.

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    Michelle

    Author of many travel blogs and user of www.travelmustard.com