Of all the places to establish the seeds of a booming fashion business, Alyce Tran and Tania Liu were working on an off-shore gas deal when they decided to join forces and make a foray into what was quickly becoming a very crowded fashion blogging space.
It was 2011, and lawyer and Sydney-based Alyce had been transferred to Perth to work on the deal. It would be a post that would change the course of both women’s career paths, make them some serious coin along the way and one that would quickly demand the attention of those within an already tightly exclusive fashion industry.
You may not know Alyce or Tania on a name or face basis, but you certainly know their product. That initial meeting as lawyers in 2011 was the beginning of the juggernaut that has grown to be The Daily Edited – a brand that sells a vast array of monogrammed leather accessories.
Some five or six years later, what was once a small-time blog is now a business worth more than $15 million and home to more than 100 employees.
When I chat to 30-year-old Alyce ahead of their expansion into the US through some pop-up stores in Saks Fifth Avenue, New York (no less), she’s surprisingly casual and her entire demeanor a tad self-deprecating considering the company’s staggering recent growth.
Perhaps most interesting is the way Alyce shrugs off questions of deliberate social media strategy and remarkable early revenue – cash flow she calls “hilarious” – as if the business fell together thanks to a couple of brushstrokes of good luck. At odds with that candour, however, are stories Alyce tells of gob-stoppingly hard work, a critical eye for both business and fashion and a real passion for making sure the consumer is getting exactly what they paid for.
Make no mistake – The Daily Edited (TDE) was not the baby of luck or accidentally clever business decisions. The demand for their product may have been unprecedented, but the ability of both women to grow the business not so much.
After all, personalised leather goods wasn't even their first idea. It was their third.
"[Tania] was a couple of years more senior than me but she always wore really cool clothes to work and we had this mutual interested in fashion, so she took me around to the cool places in Perth to buy stuff," Alyce recalls.
This mutual interest in fashion led to the birth of the their blog. A year later, by the time Alyce had returned to Sydney in 2012, the duo had launched their own fashion line, aptly titled The Daily Edited. The plan was to share a new outfit on their blog every day and sell the pieces.
"We tried to do [the fashion label] for a while, but really it was just our friends buying it. It was nice getting a bit of press and having a creative project on the side was a great thing," she says.
By Alyce's own admission, the blog and subsequent clothing line "died a natural death". 2014, however, proved to be the clincher.
"I was looking for accessorizes to kind of tszuj my desk because I was getting more senior in my job, and I couldn't find any chic compendiums or anything like that. There wasn't anything made for people like me," she says.
And so, the third idea was born. Putting in an order worth about $7,000 for compendiums, pouches and a few card holders, they decided to try their luck selling them.
Worst case scenario? "We could just give them as gifts," she says.
What transpired next was astounding, and a period Alyce recalls of "tremendous growth".
"In December 2014, I think I nearly died - we sold so much stuff. I was still working full-time as a lawyer, going home to monogram stuff and then lugging it all back to the GPO in my lunch breaks."
She was spending about four or five hours a day - on top of her already demanding career as a lawyer - processing orders. It was almost, almost untenable. And it was time to quit their jobs.
"When people hear of this, they get really excited and want to quit their jobs straight away, but we didn't quit for a long time. We saved up about $200,000 each and thought we would see how we went for a year. If all else failed, we would just go back to being lawyers."
The following Christmas - the December of 2015 - the company made about $1 million over initial targets, and were an established force in the fashion and accessories game. Their online presence was phenomenal. Instagram was littered with aesthetically pleasing flat lays brimming with TDE products, with the platform's most well-known influencers owning (and posting about) everything from phone and laptop cases to compendiums.
"It wasn't a conscious strategy, I really liked these people, followed them and I wanted them to have it. Influencer marketing is nothing new, but I didn't realise how transformative it was going to be."
But transformative it was. In March of this year, the women "hit the jackpot" according to the Australian Financial Review, selling a 30 per cent stake in the company to OrotonGroup for $4.5 million in cash and shares. Alyce is based in Sydney, Tania in China.
But according to Alyce, "they're still really young" and have so much more to do. Cracking into the Unites States is just part of it. But before you assume TDE will saturate shopping centres with the markers of a global chain, Alyce is steadfast in keeping brand's boutique nature and reputation.
"We are still learning bits of pieces about retail. Our brand is a bit of a find rather than something that's on every corner. We intend to keep it like that."