Hey I’m Ivana and here is a little story about Nate and I :)
It all began in 1988 when I got little brother Nate. Even as kids we got along super well which is to no surprise that we still do to this very day.
In 1993, we moved to Australia as refugees during the Balkan war. This was a life changing moment as our parents started a new life for us in a safe and welcoming environment with opportunity.
In 2009, I graduated University completing a Business and Economics degree. I was always really interested in business. I received one of the highest scores in our year 12 exams in my year level across the state. Even though I cant say I loved studying at uni too much, it was still an achievement to wear my graduation hat and realize that I had accomplished the first part of my journey.
In 2010, during a trip to Europe with mum, Nate discovered an amazing Italian shirt store and knew straight away that this was the business idea we had been waiting for. It took us 2 years from this point until we opened our first store. In order to do this, we went to Italy for training and borrowed a big lump sum of money from the bank. So we basically opened the doors with - $200,000 in debt.
One thing that we did have was huge passion and drive to get things off the ground, and so we did just that.
2012 was our very exciting first year of business. We both worked 7 days a week in the store and stayed back late to work on the business. Within a couple of months we had great growth, which was steadily increasing over the next year. We met celebrities, had a large database of happy customers and enjoyed working together everyday.
In 2014 we realized that business isn’t always about highs but also comes with a lot of downs too. As we were a franchise we had large issues of not having full control of running our business and many aspects that affected us negatively were out of our control. Chapel Street also experienced a major drop in traffic in the last few years and was decreasing in a rapid rate as more retailers moved to online. We realized that the only way we would have full control and move to the way we wanted is if we started our own brand and designed our own collection. So in 2015, Nate went to China to make our first collection possible
In 2016, after much planning and organization we were finally open. We designed our own collection of suits, shoes and shirts. The customers loved the new design. At this point we had 7 months left on our lease and Chapel Street was looking more and more like a ghost town each day. As our end of lease moved closer, it was obvious that physical stores were struggling in todays age and we knew that we wouldn’t be renewing our lease.
At the end of 2016, we decided to take a risk and do something we always wanted. We exhibited at the Magic Trade Show in Las Vegas which is the worlds biggest fashion trade show. We spent 4 days at the show meeting clients that stocked our items and making connections. The trade show wasn’t very busy and showed us even more how everything was moving to online rapidly. It was a great eye opener and only pointed us in the right direction even more. We also visited LA and New York, which inspired us even further to continue with our dream and goals.
2017 was a challenging start to the year as we dealt with many aspects of the business in order to say goodbye to our Botagi brand. Having to deal with so many issues and setbacks only made us realize that we aren’t done yet. Our dream is still real and in reach and why should we stop now.
In August 2017, we started a new chapter called 1LYF. This is more than a clothing brand to us; it’s a view on life that we see. It’s something that we say to ourselves everyday to motivate us to do more. As our new episode begins, we are super excited and would love to have you on the journey with us :)
Lots of love,
Ivana and Nate