From their first little shop in the main street of Pambula in the Bega Valley came bigger premises down the road and a team of in-house seamstresses, but in 2019 that goes up another notch. Luhrs and Roberts are now partnering with like-minded manufacturers interstate to meet the growing demand for their garments.
“With our expansion, we have outgrown our local resources and have contracted a production manager in Sydney as well as Melbourne to cater for our growth,” Ms Luhrs explains.
“But the Zoe.O mission remains the same.
“To give women permission to feel cool, comfortable and casual and just a little bit special, in stylish natural-fibre garments made by women for women.
“No disposable fashion. Just style, stitched slow.”
This year, fresh from the recent ‘Life inStyle’ Sydney trade show, Zoe.O will extend its reach, attending its first fashion show in Melbourne at next month’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. Zoe.O will strut the eco catwalk with influential fashion blogger Claire Goldsworthy from the Fashion Advocate.
“We’re all about slow, ethical fashion and part of our expansion strategy was to grow organically and really research our manufacturing and supply chain options within Australia,” Ms Luhrs says.
“So many labels are out there offering sustainable and ethical fashion however many of them are manufacturing offshore – which didn’t sit comfortably with us as we considered our next step.
“We will always be Australian made – however, not always Pambula made.
“We have two agents working with us showing our collection across Australia and also New Zealand this year, and while our heart and home is in Pambula, we need the support of other Australian manufacturers.
“We feel blessed to now be working with these people. They complimented our own values and that of our customers.”
Luhrs says the Zoe.O team will work closely with their new Melbourne and Sydney connections.
“Part of our ethical practice is to honour our makers and we do so by paying them up-front and giving them realistic deadlines, we don’t want to be creating stressful work conditions – except for ourselves sometimes!” Ms Luhrs laughs.
“The working hours that are displayed on our studio shop door say it all – ‘Working Mums, Random Hours’ that resonates with all the working mums that we meet, we believe in heart over hustle – always.”
Luhrs says Zoe.O will continue to make capsule collections out of the Pambula studio. “That is what we love doing first and foremost,” she says.
“That is what our loyal local customers have come to support, nothing gives us more of a buzz than seeing our designs out and about in our hometown.
“We are humbled by the support we have had right from the beginning and will always stay true to our roots.”
Zoe.O is proof of the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in regional Australia and that an ethical, sustainable approach to business growth comes with rewards.
What started as a casual collaboration of design and dressmaking skills between friends is now supplying boutiques around Australia – take a bow Zoe.O!