lady startup

How an Aussie mum built a multi-million dollar kids' clothing brand with a cult following.

Miyo Fallshaw was working hard on Christmas Day 2014 in preparation for her kids’ clothing brand’s Boxing Day sale when she had a revelation.

“I thought ‘this is ridiculous, this is not how I want to live life – to be so busy that I couldn’t actually enjoy Christmas. What’s the point?'” Miyo told Mamamia.

“The point of having your own business is to enable you to have flexibility and to have good choices, but then, in the end, it felt like a ball-and-chain.”

The business she had built up from a friend’s market stall to a thriving clothing empire was growing in a way she suddenly realised wasn’t working for anyone, including her or her two young daughters.

Miyo wanted to regain some flexibility to spend important moments with her children. (Image supplied.)

At the time Oishi-m had a physical store in the Victorian coastal town of Torquay, an online store and a wholesale branch that provided clothes to more than 100 stockists in Australia and internationally. Miyo realised something had to go.

That something, the Victorian mum soon decided with input from her fellow founder Fiona McPherson and staff, was to cut the wholesale arm of the business.

"We decided to focus on servicing on our consumer customers better, and I guess also not having to always make compromises with all the various stakeholders all the time," Miyo told Mamamia.

"Rather than working on three small businesses, we could really focus on our retail and web as one larger retail business."

While the change didn't immediately save Miyo time, it was a great boost to her mental health. Rather than trying to make three aspects of the business perfect, she could refocus all that energy and attention spent on wholesale to the online and physical store.


"It was really difficult though, we'd built great relationships with our retailers... but we realised we can't be everything to everyone and we couldn't spread ourselves thin and expect to grow in all these different areas as well."

From a marketing degree to marketing a brand new business.

Now, Oishi-m is a multi-million dollar clothing brand that has developed a cult following for its Australian-made kids' clothing and footwear. Runs of its stock regularly sell out and the business has customers in 37 countries.

But when Miyo joined Oishi-m in 2006, it was just her friend Fiona's market stall and a range of clothes she sold to family and friends.

Miyo, who was then studying a marketing degree, was examining the business Fiona, who has since left Oishi-m to pursue womenswear, had started, as a case study. It was then she decided to get involved and became a co-owner, taking over the marketing side of things.

Listen: Naomi Simson shares the reality of starting a small business from home.

Oishi-m gradually built a following a loyal customers, who appreciated the clothing's quality, as well as the little details, such as thank you notes in online shopping packages.

The business model is also very different to that of well-known mass-produced childrenswear brands.

"Being limited, and small production runs also makes our product special. We don't want it to be something that everybody is seen everywhere wearing the same outfit."

"(Our customer's value) having something that is special, that is a reflection of your own child's quirkiness."

So when they made the decision to retract slightly in early 2015 in order to grow in a different way, it was all about valuing doing things right - and retaining their sanity - over competing with everyone else.

Oishi-m clothing. (Image supplied.)

"I think we probably didn't realise how much time we spent trying to stay on top of juggling all these things and it wasn't until we were out the other side that I realised I felt so much lighter."

Miyo compared her quest to do-it-all and decision to stop to how many women will feel about juggling the many aspects of their lives.

"These days you're looking around and you might think, 'I can be really awesome, I can have  a house that looks like it's straight out of Home Beautiful, I can have a body just like Lara Bingle's, and I can eat awesome things and be an awesome chef like Nigella Lawson.' But you can't do everything - and you've just got to focus on what you can really nail."

"You've got to pick your battles a little bit and work out what are the things you really want to excel out. And not to feel obliged to do everything that is possibly expected of you."

You can listen to the full episode of I Don’t Know How She Does it with Naomi Simson here.

Got January-Dread at the thought of a new year in your current job? Keen to take control of your life and be your own boss? Come and join Mia Freedman for the Lady Startup Activation Plan, an online course where she personally takes you through every step and gives you every resource to go from idea to launch. Enrolments are open for just a few days. Details here.