Name: Carolyn Cage
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Cagey’s Planet is an ethical and independent streetwear label that is 100% sweatshop free, 100% child labour free and 100% forced labour free. It means that consumers can make an ethical choice and have an ethical option when it comes to shopping for clothes and finding out who makes their clothes. All the manufacturers and garment makers who make the clothes for Cagey’s Planet receive fair work and pay conditions and a portion of the profits from each collection goes to a different local charity or planting native trees around the country (you can read more via the Ethical Statement or Giving Back page on our website.
What products/services do you offer?
Cagey’s Planet offers a wide range of ethically made clothes and accessories including shirts, bags, bucket hats, caps, hoodies, zip up jumpers, totes, turtlenecks that have either been embroidered or screen printed, as well as gift vouchers.
Why did you start your business and how long have you been running it?
I founded Cagey’s Planet in 2016 after wanting to help raise money for a friend’s medical expenses. I started with a run of hats and a launch party. After seeing how much people loved the designs, how excited people were that the products were ethically sourced, I decided to grow the business and set up an eCommerce website. It soon turned from a side hobby into a small business.
What struggles do you think most businesses face in your industry and what would you say they need to do to overcome them?
I think most small businesses struggle with costs and making the business sustainable and viable, especially when you factor in the costs of making a product as ethical as possible. Cagey’s Planet also promotes “slow fashion” rather than indulging in fast fashion, which means that the runs I do are smaller, so the costs are higher. It can be a bit of a struggle but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
The biggest accomplishment would be raising money for so many different charities that I am passionate about including the Black Dog Institute, Minus18, Switchboard, WIRES and Greenfleet and also being able to contribute to the plantation of over 30 native trees. It’s super nice being able to give back and having the platform to raise awareness around so many different issues. Going plastic free is also another great accomplishment (other than using recycled plastic packaging, which i’ll soon be moving away from. Every little bit counts and i’m glad to be able to do my bit!
What has been your biggest ‘fail’ so far?
I wouldn’t say anything has been a ‘fail’ to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, i’ve made (many) mistakes in the past, but i’ve learnt so much from them and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I don’t come from a business background whatsoever, so it definitely has been a struggle, but it’s also a great way to learn and know what not to do for next time.
What do you love most about your business?
What I love most about Cagey’s Planet is the opportunity to give back and also seeing an idea come to life. I’ve been able to reach out and collaborate with so many different charities doing amazing things. It motivates me that as one person, I’m able to make a bit of a difference in society – even if that is just raising awareness and a bit of coin. Spending time on an idea or design and seeing it on a shirt or a hat is a great feeling as well. Especially seeing one of your products “in the wild” or being worn by a stranger. I feel truly honoured when that happens!
What do you find most challenging?
One of the most challenging things about running a business is finding balance and combating mental fatigue. There’s a lot of different hats you have to wear when you run a business on your own from designing, communicating to suppliers and manufacturers, research about where the products are from and if they’re ethically-made, customer service, social media, collaborations, making sure your website is constantly being updated, packaging up items, going to the post office, stocktake, plus a million other things. I have a couple of other projects I work on so it’s hard at times managing Cagey’s Planet and working on other things at the same time. I’m slowly working how to prioritise my time but it definitely is a bit of a challenge. As many business owners will say, there are never enough hours in the day!
How do you promote your business (please include as many details as you can)?
Social media is where I mainly promote Cagey’s Planet. I have an Instagram and Facebook. I also have a website of course and am featured on a number of blogs and featuring in interviews on other websites. Influencers often get in touch and if their ethos and style matches that of Cagey’s Planet, I do a collaboration every now and again. I also do some email marketing, which people can subscribe to via my website and also the old school word of mouth!
What business skills do you have (eg. graphic design, customer service)?
I don’t have a whole lot of business skills to be honest but I do come from a strong media background, which has helped a lot with Cagey’s Planet. I have a mix of multimedia, communication, written, social media, marketing and (basic) graphic design skills, as well as years of customer service skills that I picked up working in retail/hospitality when I was younger. Those skills combined help me a lot!
What software did you/your designer use to create your website (eg. WordPress, Wix)?
I use Big Cartel which is a eCommerce site.
What are some of your favourite business tools and apps?
There’s quite a few social media apps that I use for basic video editing and basic graphic design. Canva for example is super easy to use and I have the app on my phone so I can make something up quickly and post it in a timely fashion so my content is up-to-date and relevant.
What do you like about your website and what’s not working for you?
I like that my website is easy to navigate but at the same time it is very basic. When I grow my business more and have more time I’d love to invest in getting a proper website made, or better yet learn how to do it myself.
What lessons have you learnt during your time as an entrepreneur?
Don’t let mistakes you make along the way get the better of you. There is always a lesson in them, even if you don’t realise what the lesson may be right away. There have been many times in the past where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel because I’ve made a stupid or costly mistake, but I’ve never given up. I’ve always grown from them and have felt proud that I was able to overcome my weaknesses.
What key tips for success in business would you like to share with others?
Forget the mistake and remember the lesson – and always ask questions. Also, if you can try to learn to do as much as you can by yourself. You’ll be better off in the long run.
What is the one thing that you want everyone to take away from this post?
Running a small business can be hard at times, but it’s also extremely rewarding and one of the things that I am most proud of in my life.