ARTICLE / THE MAKING OF... SERIES
The making of...
Consequence of Change
We all know that inspiration can come from anywhere. And, for many entrepreneurs that inspiration is often found in a problem they want to solve or an opportunity they’d like to explore further. So when Beverley Johnson, Founder & Creative Director of Consequence of Change found out that her graphic designer and artist son only earned a couple of dollars from his designs… she decided to act and put her experience in the fashion industry to work.
The making of... Series
Welcome to The making of... blog series. To start, can you give us a bit of a background into who you are and where you’ve come from?
Hello, I’m Beverley Johnson, Founder & Creative Director of Consequence of Change. I have been in the fashion industry for over fifteen years and four years ago I decided to take all of my learnings and start my own brand. I am also a passionate lover of the arts so for me, it made sense to combine my two loves - art and fashion to create Consequence of Change.
For many of us in the industry, fashion and art have been a huge part of what we do. However, having said that how it comes together can be different. So how did you come up with the idea?
The idea started with my son who’s a graphic designer and artist. He had some of his work on Red Bubble and I asked him how much he received if someone used his work. When he told me only a few dollars I was shocked. I felt strongly there was a need for artists to be paid fairly for their work while providing them with exclusivity and the autonomy to decide how their pieces were printed. Mass production? It’s a #nothanks from me. Earning $2 for the art you spent hours creating? Also a #nothanks. We’re not your average fashion label.
It sounds like the perfect reason to start a business. What research did you do to arrive at what you've got now? How did you test your product-market fit?
I’m going to be really transparent here and even though I’m an experienced marketer I didn't do a lot to test product-market fit. I talked to friends and family and received good feedback so I thought I would give it a go.
Beverley Johnson, Founder & Creative Director of Consequence of Change
We hear this from time to time. Particularly from founders who have experience in a particular industry or category. What about your first runs? What were the first iterations of your product like?
I was really happy with the first collection I produced. I had found a contact in Melbourne who owned a factory in Sri Lanka and their quality was great.
I’m sure knowing what you wanted and the quality you expected helped a lot with your first product. What about the funding? How did you initially pay for everything?
The business is completely bootstrapped by me. No bank is going to lend money to a start-up in the fashion industry with no proven concept. If I was a tech company there would have been no problem. Although, I did receive some grants which helped.
Knowing who you are and where you came from, how did you go with the branding? Can you walk us through what you did to arrive at what you have today?
I’m a very creative person so I knew what I wanted. My husband (a copywriter) came up with the name. It has lots of meanings - the change that happens when you add art to a bag or piece of clothing but also the personal journey I’d taken to get me to this point. I worked with a designer to help with the logo and typography and then in the beginning I created the website on my own via Shopify. So much has changed since the beginning. I eventually got a designer and web developer to reskin my website to allow me to really tell the brand story. The collection has evolved so much. I no longer do tote canvas bags. The bags are now high fashion and I’ve introduced apparel.
With your brand, website and product sorted, how are you getting the word out there? How do you intend to scale the brand?
Awareness is a slow burn especially if you are self-funded. I have done lots of work with influencers to create user-generated content as well as growing my social platforms organically. I did a Kickstarter campaign in 2021 to help fund a heated puffer coat. This coat had lots of unique features and I collaborated with an Indigenous Australian artist on the lining and capsule collection. The coat went viral and I sold out - I do believe this has massively helped to scale the brand and create greater brand awareness.
It sounds like you’ve achieved a lot so far with the business as well as the brand. What would you say are the biggest challenges you'll face moving forward?
Scaling and cash flow are always a challenge. I have so many ideas of what I want to do with the brand but when you are self-funded you need to move slower than some of the bigger brands. Sustainability is also at the forefront of my mind and I try and think about how I can reduce my carbon footprint so being small batch and using recycled materials helps. I think this year is going to be an important one as to whether the brand can scale to where I want it to be.
These are all important points you’ve made and from all the self-funding founders we’ve interviewed, they all state that scaling is one of the most difficult challenges. Four years in and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give another entrepreneur who’s just about to embark on their own start-up journey?
Oh, lots of things! Definitely proof of concept. Don't start a business if you have no capital. You think you need x amount of dollars but then quadruple that! Don't spend money on mentors/experts who sell you courses that are going to turn your business around. Something I have learnt the hard way. Find one great mentor at the beginning of your journey.