Welcome, I’m really glad that you’re here! My name is Leina Broughton. I'm a Lover of Business, Digital & Creating.12 years ago I started a business which meant I could combine all three, I created my own clothing label, Leina & Fleur (originally Leina Broughton). The business started like a tiny little seed in my garage and when I sold my share in the business this year it had hit the $10 million mark. The evolution and journey still blows my mind.
Leaving the business has given me the most incredible gift, TIME.
Time to spend with loved ones. Time to start exploring who I am all over again and time to explore what I love to do.
If you're here, maybe you're a lover of Business, Digital or Creating or maybe you're ready to rediscover who you are too. Whatever brought you here, I'm glad you're here! Welcome ❤️
My career journey started in fashion, with an absolute obsession with fabric and creating styles that made me smile. When I was 10 my Mum taught me how to sew, which came in handy when later I realised my clothing allowance would barely cover the jeans I wanted. From about 15 years old I started making lots more pieces. My Mum described my sewing style as rip-shit & bust. Turns out my speed and accuracy in the future would be one of my zones of genius.
My first full time job in the rag trade was working with Sydney bridal designer Peter Cooper. What an absolute whirlwind initiation. Working with brides, mothers, bridesmaids and incredible work-of-art dresses that took over 40 solid hours to make and required limos to fit the train and petticoats. Within 6 months I had moved my way into the Studio Manager position. What I lacked in skills I made up for in zest and a commitment to learn anything I didn’t know.
18 months later, Peter was bought out by Mirabella Couture where we did very high end bridal and RTW. My skills were growing rapidly and exponentially as I traded my time (doing the jobs no-one wanted to do after hours) for lessons with whoever would agree; Pattern Makers, Machinists, Designers. My time there was short but crucial, the business went into receivership soon after the GFC hit overseas. Our high end clients were nervous and pulled back on their luxuries with us.
The Designer from Mirabella, Kara Hanna decided to start her own private bespoke studio and was helping me kick-start my next phase as a Pattern and Technical Consultant, creating my first official business Pattern Central. I offered this service in Wellington while I studied, but there were gaps in my offering. My added experience and confidence were now ready to roll.
The designs I was given by Kara were exciting, challenging and rewarding. We created one-off pieces for incredibly successful women with unique body shapes and very high end style. Kara opened my eyes to designing without limitations, brand positioning and great chardonnay!
I pursued my new pathway with gusto and rented out my first studio in Redfern. It was not the gentrified suburb it is now, everyday my adrenalin was running simply getting in and out of my car. Who knew who would be on a come down or in a rage on the street, but it was a fashion hub and I loved it. My client list grew and I ended up working with some of Australia’s best designers at the time; Josh Goot, Lisa Ho, Tim O’Connor. Known for my lines, speed and attention to impeccable fit.
My business was growing rapidly but I wanted to push myself further and I was frustrated with taking on a chunk of the design aspects with clients through pattern making. Such an underrated part of garment development, fit and functionality is the difference between good and great peeps! My pursuit of the ideal fit followed me. I started my own self-labeled brand on the side but I was missing some essential elements. I wasn’t sure exactly what but I knew if I was going to make it a huge success I needed to gain some skills.
I made the decision to work for a big company, to see the mechanics first hand of how it all worked. There was only one company on my radar; Country Road (CR). An iconic Australian brand that I loved and they had reported incredible growth and success. The universe has always guided me and sure enough, at that exact time they happened to be hiring for a Senior Garment Technician for their new sister brand Trenery. It was a sign. I flew down to Melbourne for the interview and I knew it was mine. Two months later I had finished up with my pattern clients, relocated for the role and as part of my contract put my label on ice.
We were a start-up team within CR and I was responsible for setting up the size charts and grading. I had done this multiple times before for small businesses but this was a whole new ball game, what a thrill. I visited the manufacturers in China and gathered every single moment into my knowledge bank. From communications, swing tags, packaging, development, delivery, my brain was ecstatic from all the learning.
Working within a big vertical taught me so much and I loved the company, I loved the team but being in one department wasn’t enough, I wanted my fingers in all the pies.
Exactly 12 months after I had started, I handed in my resignation and moved to Queensland with my partner. The sunshine, beaches and looking at overheads that were at least 30% less than Sydney was a no brainer. I had researched manufacturers and was ready to take the leap, time to commit to my own brand.
I’ve always believed that you should have your living costs and bare minimums covered when starting a business. I had $13k in cash and a $17,000 credit card (the max I could get) and I would need every penny to start my clothing empire so I taught Fashion on the side at a private college.
Throughout my career I had been shown how not to run a small business and what it looked like inside a massive brand. My fashion skills were skyrocketing and I had visualised my fashion house for years. I applied my go to principles;
if I don’t know it I’ll learn it, if it doesn’t exist I’ll create it.
Even though I had researched and connected with the manufacturers, it was impossible to get space in their production runs. I was small fry and everyone was stuck doing traditional heavy indent collections (Spring/Summer/Winter). I developed and made all of my samples and tech packs, I was ready to roll but this model of 3 huge collections a year wasn’t going to work for me. The investment and reality of getting everything made was broken, there had to be a better way…
I was back doing sessions with my amazing business coach Katherine Hosie. I started coaching with Kate when I had first started Pattern Central. She knew how to make me accountable, how to push me to get to the answers I needed.One night, I had an absolute breakthrough, I knew what I could create.
The breakthrough literally shaped how the business would be different, I would create and offer bi-monthly mini-collections. Bringing newness to the boutique wholesale market, creating customer engagement for stores and turning me into a bread and butter earner for manufacturers. Today it is completely normal for brands to do more regular collections but at the time it was like trying to sell veggies to carnivores. But I persisted. I knew in every ounce of my body that the model would work and give me an edge and a true USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
After 12 months of persistence it finally took off and I was on my way.
While I was at Country Road I taught myself Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. I had no budget for graphic design and I wanted to be able to play to get the look I wanted. When I launched the label I progressed onto becoming a marketing and digital nerd, I knew the product meant nothing without the ability to sell it. I was selling jersey dresses, the product was already out there, I needed to create a fresh approach. Ecommerce and digital advertising were still in the very early days so anything was possible.
Three years after launching my brand Leina Broughton, I was introduced to Fleur. She had reached out to me in regards to grabbing pieces as she was a Stylist at the time to private clients. I was pregnant and struggling to keep on top of everything, so was a little hesitant to connect, something had to give! Lise Carlaw (one half of Those Two Girls) had introduced us and she quickly came back saying, you may want to prioritise this one, Fleur had been GM at Sacha Drake and was a wealth of information.
Before I knew it Fleur was mentoring me for the financial aspect of the business and our synchronicities were incredible. We both went to Wellington Polytechnic for Fashion, one year apart. She used to swim in my great Auntie’s pool in rural New Zealand yet we’d never met. We even had the same Dr and drove the same car, our Subaru wagons!
One evening as we were discussing the next stages of my business, Fleur asked out of nowhere “unless of course you’re interested in a business partner?”
I paused. “Yes I am.”
It is amazing how one single instance can completely change your path. We always said it was our sliding door moment. From there we went on an 8 year roller coaster of expansion, growth, friendship and leadership. I headed up Creative, Digital & Marketing and Fleur took over Operations, HR and Finance.
There is so much to tell about the journey from there, but I think I might save that for a book. In my three months off since leaving the business, it turns out I have discovered writing too, what an incredibly rewarding and immersive craft. I’m 20,000 words into a novel, there’s no deadline on it, I’ll finish it when the time is right ❤️ It’s called Body Conscious, a continuation of my obsession with wanting to see our relationships change with our bodies.
Forever learning, forever evolving.