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Business Foundations

Wisteria and Willow The Label

Georgia Sandford from Wisteria and Willow The Label chats about her journey and how the Initiative helped expand her start up.


The Boosting Female Founders Initiative is a grant to help female founders of start-up businesses to launch and scale their businesses into domestic and global markets.

We spoke to one of our clients, Georgia Sandford from Wisteria and Willow The Label to chat about her journey and how the Initiative helped expand her start up.

How did you find out about the Female Founders Initiative?

It was recommended to me by a friend when I was telling her about raising capital to launch my business. While I was unsuccessful in receiving funding, I was offered the mentoring program and strongly believe in taking any and all opportunities offered to me, to give Wisteria and Willow the best chance!


What motivated you to start your own business?

I grew up in a small country town in rural NSW, my partner and I saw our future here, surrounded by family and friends however I quickly realised that my fashion degree was not overly useful in Deniliquin, as most design houses were based in the major cities. So, I did what anyone with a dream would do, I got a business degree on top of my fashion degree and decided to start my own.

I have always been very passionate and vocal about the overwhelming body dysmorphia and body issues caused by the mass media and wanted to celebrate every woman and everybody, while using a platform I create through the business to empower younger women and encourage them to love themselves as their bodies change and fluctuate over the years.


What is the most valuable information you learned in the Female Founders Initiative?

I gained endless information from my mentor Susan, with every session leaving me with pages and pages of scribbled notes and ideas, both recommended by Susan and ideas triggered by things she said. We worked a lot on brainstorming ideas on how to get my product into the public through wholesaling to boutiques and small stores.

We spent a lot of time discussing locations of the boutiques, with holiday destinations being a major targeted area as people are much more likely to spend while in holiday mode, as well as high income towns such as mining towns with disposable incomes.

They often only have 1 or 2 gift/clothing stores and many people working on Fly in, Fly out schedules would be looking for gifts to take home to their partners. I also found working on the brand vision and brand story an extremely valuable asset, as we went back and forth creating a concrete brand story and position. We also covered activating spaces, which Is a great way for start-ups to do pop up shops!

What services and/or products do you provide?

We are a lingerie label who aim to make women feel beautiful. With a light, happy atmosphere to our brand, we want women to feel comfortable in our garments while feeling powerful and confident to take on the daily challenges life throws our way. Our designs are full reinforced stretch, which are extremely soft on the skin while also being supportive and comfortable, and absolutely stunning on!

We are currently covering 9 sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL, S-busty, M-busty, L-busty and X-large busty, and cannot wait to extend out sizes to cover all women and all sizes, however in order to use a high-quality manufacturer, MOQs are very high, and we were unable to start with all sizes due to start-up funds.


What challenges have you had to face since starting your business? How have you overcome these challenges?

There has been a lot of challenges, financially, mentally and production line issues just to name a few. I was unsuccessful with my application for the Female founders funding initiative, early into my business process. While it would have been fabulous to receive this funding, I had only applied so I could offer full sizing to my launch therefore allowing me be as size inclusive as possible.

So while this was disappointing, I had saved enough working harvests on the family farm, investing, multiple side hustles and juggling sometimes 3 jobs at a time I was still in a position to launch my business with a smaller size range.

Mentally starting a business is hard, stressful and you must develop a backbone very quickly. Everyone will tell you something different from not liking the logo design you spent hundreds of hours designing or telling you that you can’t run a fashion label from a small town.

It’s very easy to let comments break you, but eventually I stopped asking people for their opinions and backed myself when they gave them anyway. I still get in my own head sometimes and doubt myself, but you just have to pick yourself up and keep pushing through.

Another devastating obstacle was after spending months and thousands of dollars working with a manufacturer to develop the samples for our full collection, only for a pandemic to cause them to go into involuntary bankruptcy. 4 months and $4500 down and we basically went back and started again.

After finding another manufacturer we, like most of the country had major waits on product being manufactured due to them having huge lockdown backlogs, then shipping taking months to arrive, followed by constant price increases in the time between starting sampling and placing our order we had a 15% increase in cost.


What have been some of the highlights of operating your own business?

A definite highlight would be our first photoshoot, seeing everything I’ve worked for come to life, while working with some amazing people on the shoot. I make it my personal job to make sure the models are comfortable but also laughing and having fun with it. I had so much feedback over the years of how toxic some photoshoots can be, so to create a fun and safe environment for everyone to enjoy the day was important to me!

What is one piece of advice you can give to others thinking about starting their own business?

I can only give advice on the first stage of starting a business, but pretty much just back yourself, you’ll have setbacks, small and major. You’ll have people who support you and people who give ‘constructive criticism’ that will hurt you. You’ll have good days and bad days, stressful days, fabulous days and days you need to cry. Celebrate the small wins and use the setbacks and learning experiences as preserve.


Are there any additional comments you would like to include about your business, journey or experience?

Growing up we were taught the value of hard work from a pretty young age, most afternoons after school were spent helping dad on the farm, whether feeding pet potty lambs, moving sheep or sitting on a tractor with dad, with even some mornings loading sheep trucks at 5:30am before getting on the school bus at 6:45. It taught me resilience, confidence and a cam do attitude.

After completely year 12 I had decided Europe was calling, so I skipped schoolies and jumped on a tractor for my first harvest, 16-18 hours a day for 2 months.

There were tired tears, there were tractor breakdowns, there were rushed days when rain was coming, but there were also beautiful sunsets, UHF radio banter, and at the end there was harvest cut out, where everyone comes together to celebrate the year. 7 years later and I still come back every year for harvest, by investing the money I made somehow, I managed to scrape enough together to start Wisteria and Willow – Worth every hour, meltdown and sunset.

You can learn more about Wisteria and Willow The Label through their Website, Facebook and Instagram.

You can learn more about the Boosting Female Founders Initiative below.

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Acknowledgement Of Country

Business Foundations acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.


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Western Australia

Wesley Central
2 Cantonment Street,
Fremantle WA 6160

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