Most of the newcomers to the business world feel that their ideas have already been used by others, and so they may not have any scope of doing well if they start on the same ideas.
This is not true.
“Seek, and you will find!”
There are soft drink brands that rule the food & beverage sector but new products are coming into the market quite often; there are fashion brands that have stayed put in the fashion industry but there are new design brands making inroads; and there are realtors that seem to have literally left no stone unturned in the real estate business but there are young entrepreneurs exploring new avenues of trade ready for exploration. In every business sector there are brands that have monopoly, yet there is always a gap left vacant for any enthusiastic taker. The only thing is that you have to seek first to find it.
In this article, let’s discuss Peter Alexander who proved that you can create a brand while others are sound asleep, and whose brand officially became ‘Global King of Kidswear’ when it received the Kidswear Design Award at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards held at Park Lane Hotel, London in May 2015.
Peter Alexander – the Aussie fashion designer who bedded thousands in his Sleepwear!
[The island continent country Australia is unique in many ways. It has unique fauna and flora. The animals found in Australia are found nowhere else on the Earth: monotremes, those egg-laying mammals, are found only in Australia and New Guinea, and most species of marsupials, those animals that carry their young in pouches on their bodies, are found in Australia and very few other countries. The world famous kangaroo and echidna are found only on the Australian soil.
However, the peoples and cultures are not unique. This country has diverse traditions and cultures with the interaction of original people, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders living there for more than 40,000 years, with people who have migrated from about 200 countries around the world since the British first established European settlements there in 1788.
And to prove that Aussies think differently from other peoples, I consider Peter Alexander the “king of pyjamas” as the best example.]
The man that thought differently and made a successful niche for himself
When all the other designers world over were busy thinking of designing upend ‘fashion’ design clothes, evening wear and custom made casual wear for celebrities, Peter thought of designing nightwear and underwear, especially the PJs!
His learning disabilities at school prevented him from getting into a university, but not getting into a business. In 1985, an idea wormed itself into his brain resulting in his starting a business at home against all odds.
Despite the discouragement from several of his associates and acquaintances, he stuck to his idea of making night wear, which he got from his female colleagues while working at Sportsgirl, a popular women’s clothing chain in Australia, in 1981. He learned that women did not like their feminine style pyjamas as much as they like the male types that are without frills and laces, and that some out-going girls were desperately looking for something more trendy and comfortable to wear at night.
Peter Alexander proved that you can create a brand while others are sound asleep!
Believing that he found a niche for himself in the fashion market, Peter Alexander started his Peter Alexander Sleepwear line, with the help of his parents, on which he set to work at home with only himself multi-tasking all the chores associated with producing a label. He was so cunning that he sometimes changed his voice while attending the business phone calls to make it seem there were several employees busy working in his “factory”!
He is also one of very few fashion designers who made good use of the online marketing. He tapped online resource which was actually not very popular in 1990s when a company cancelled his order and, desperate for a way out to sell those pyjamas, he placed an ad on the Net and was overwhelmed by the thumping response he received. Just after a couple of years, he was exporting his lines to New Zealand, the UK and the USA, and by 1999 his brand was all over the world through e-commerce, currently boasting about 100,000 mail order customers, with the number growing fast.
After opening his first exclusive namesake store in the Melbourne Central Shopping Centre in Melbourne in 2004, he soon opened a store in each state and territory in Australia and some stores in key locations in the neighboring country New Zealand.
The celebrities that slept in Peter Alexander
No fashion designer can be in the limelight without the support from the glamorous Ladies and gentlemen of the Movie and Pop Music industries. And Peter Alexander, with his more than $ 6 million a year brand (2011), has a long, glistening list of fans: Nicole Kidman, Rachel Griffiths, Pink, Alicia Silverstone, Lady Gaga, Mandy Moore, Kristin Cavallari, Toni Colletter, Hugh Jackman are just a few to name.
He has sleepwear lines for everyone: there’s his women’s wear, men’s wear, kid’s wear, gift-wear, and, over the long period of 27 years in designing, he has included footwear, mostly those cotton and canvas shoes with fur lining that keep people warm at night; bags, mostly those much needed overnighters; eyewear, the essential eye masks while traveling at night; gloves and mittens; passport cases; and fragrances that make our night life warm, comfortable and romantic.
Many ways to attract your customers
There can’t be an iota of doubt about getting attracted to the two piece pyjamas, tees and other night wear apparel whoever visits any of his stores or his website… the designs are numerous and give a sense of being the right age and feel. There are tops that have Star Wars sequel images printed on them for the youngsters, there are tops and bottoms with funny animal or plant pics in multi-colors to make kids wear them without complaint, and there are the pyjamas and tees in soft colors and subtle designs for the grumpy grandees, each design telling an interesting story.
(He has ‘false flies’ stitched on some of his women’s pyjama lines to make those ‘strong-minded’ female feel masculine! LOL…)
He has seen to it that his solely-owned stores have an ambiance that makes any hard-nut-to-crack customer keep cool and dreamy while shopping; not like those stores that drive the potential customers with an artificial urgency to rush to choose some and get out in a hurry. In his article, one of PA’s ardent customers wrote that Peter Alexander stores are like ‘sleep and dream haven’ giving out sweet vanilla smells from burning candles, and the colorful clothes, the vintage-looking cabinets and the grand chandeliers assuring you that you have come to the right place. The fan added that he would want his sleeping room (he insisted on say ‘sleeping room’; not bedroom) to look and feel like one of Peter’s stores. Such is the atmosphere Peter has created in his stores and in his fans’ minds.
The shrewd entrepreneur with a compassion for animals
Peter is not a trained designer and, at the start, was not rich enough to fund his own trial and error ventures. However, his climbing to the top notch with his sleepwear and evening clothing labels shows that he’s a shrewd businessman to the core. He used his friends and relatives to see how his ideas take shape but never ignored them; whenever there was a chance, he repaid them generously, including his parents.
In a tactical move, he sold his ‘Sleepwear’ label to the Just Group, a business establishment that owns and operates six other clothing brands, including Just Jeans. Nevertheless, he has stayed with the Group as a head designer and head of marketing so that he is never out of sight of his own ‘sleeping’ baby!
Business And Compassion Can Go Hand In Hand
Though he’s rigid in mind, he’s very passionate at heart. After his pet dachshund (a sausage dog) called Penny (Penelope) passed away in 2005, he showed his love for the dog by keeping it as his brand’s logo and mascot. He has shown his love for animals, especially pet dogs, by participating in RSPCA animal welfare activities. He designed a line of pyjamas whose sales all go to the local Dog Rescue operations, and he produced a calendar with male models wearing his underwear, posing with rescued dogs, whose proceeds go directly to the RSPCA.
Peter joined hands with Katherine Heigl, the famous Hollywood actress and movie producer who had a cute little pet dog called Romeo (a miniature Schnauzer), to produce Romeo’s Line, a special collection of pyjamas and bags with Romeo’s picture on them, whose sales also go to pet charities.
To show his love for pet dogs, he introduced the P.A. Pups collection of accessories: soaps, leashes, collars, shampoos, etc., for pet dogs, available at very modest prices.
The Other Side of The Coin
Although he’s a very public personality, very little is known about his personal and marital life, except in some rare online news articles. There is one, for instance, an ABC News ‘inside business’ radio talk interview (on 3/10/2004), in which Peter Alexander is known to have confessed to the interviewer Luisa Saccotelli that ‘he didn’t really let people know he was gay’, and there is another one, an article by Kat Callahan on ROYBGIV website, posted on 8/07/14, about a police ride on a private gay club in Melbourne in 1994 in which our Peter is also being mentioned.
Therefore, knock, and the door will be opened for you… proving that There Is A Space For Every Startup!
Let’s wish this man who made millions of people sleep in comfort and style a pleasant Good Night!