Laura Churchill was surrounded by fashion from a young age but was always more interested in the business side of it. After careers in media and journalism, she became a freelance stylist and later took the leap and created her own styling company, Churchill Creative. I chatted to Laura about the behind the scenes of her projects, her position as director of Brisbane Fashion Month and how she moved from a freelancer to a business owner.
What was it like moving from a freelance stylist to having your own company?
I changed my business model from sole trader to Pty Ltd company out of necessity really for the level of work I was bringing in and the types of clients – there are issues to consider around insurance etc, but it also signals a shift in the business and allows me to run things 100% by the book.
Tell us a bit about Churchill Creative...
Churchill Creative is my company that specialises in fashion event management and production. We produce a number of high-end fashion events throughout the year including the Ekka Natural Fibres Fashion Parades, Brisbane Fashion Month (BFM) and other retail and consumer events. I’m lucky to work predominantly with Brisbane designers and retailers and we’ve reached a point where we have a really strong presence in this market.
What were some of the struggles you faced creating your company and how did you overcome them?
The struggles never end, honestly. Running a business is hard work. I have to remind myself it’s meant to be hard work - if it was easy everyone would be doing it. The main struggle is time, it seems as though there’s never enough time to achieve everything I want to, which is why next year I’m looking at bringing on more staff as the business grows.
What does an average day include for you?
A lot more meetings, paperwork and planning than people think! I spend a lot of my year planning, budgeting, working with suppliers and sponsors and crafting the larger events months and months in advance before they happen. The event days are the easy part because everything is done and the team all know what they need to be doing and when, there’s a really detailed run sheet, and it all flows. I get asked a lot if event days are stressful but really that’s the fun part at the end of a lot of hard work.
How did your role as Brisbane Fashion Month director come about?
I have worked on Brisbane Fashion Month since its inception in 2016. I had a newborn baby the first year so worked on the project as the stylist and consulted on some of the industry aspects with founder Carly Vidal-Wallace. Carly moved overseas at the end of 2017 and we talked a lot about continuing the project together but ultimately I bought the business and have carried it forward for the past two years. We’re in year four now and I’m so proud of how far BFM has come. My favourite part is being able to genuinely support the Queensland fashion industry. We have more than 50 local designers across 7 runway shows, we’re holding 7 pop-up stores with almost 20 designers involved in those, and our annual Pocket Guide to Brisbane Fashion publication features more than 80 local labels. There’s a lot more going on in Brisbane fashion than a lot of people expect.
At TDP, we talk a lot about collaboration over competition, how do you try and incorporate this into your job?
Collaboration is absolutely key. I wouldn’t be able to carry off Brisbane Fashion Month and my other projects without relying on the support and collaboration with a few key players including stylists Liz Golding, Jessinta Jones and Kymberly Louise, event manager Zoe Whiffen and our team of contractors and volunteers. BFM is built on a philosophy that we’re stronger together, and that flows on to my approach with our designer community also – we run twice-yearly joint pop-up stores with up to 15 designers sharing a space – it creates a much better sense of community this way.
What is your favourite Spring trend at the moment?
I love spring time in general and love racing season so spring racing looks are something I get excited about. It’s all about a great accessory for me – small bags, interesting block heels, and something with a bit of edge over the pretty but predictable spring florals.
What is something in your wardrobe you can not live without?
Jackets. Not so practical coming into summer but I love jackets and blazers most in my wardrobe. They give great structure and always make me feel professional and put together when I need to present or speak in front of an audience.
What do you love to do when you're not working?
I love spending time with my family when I’m not working. I have a three-year-old daughter and a close family so that’s where you’ll find me when I have down time.
What tips would you give to women wanting to take the leap and start their own business?
I would say just do it, but to be practical I’d say take it slowly, start working on your own projects a day or two a week, even if that’s across a few hours each night. Don’t feel the need to take huge risks but build your business at a sustainable pace and do it for the right reasons – because you’re passionate about it, and because you are the only one that can do what you do. Be kind. Be genuine. Build relationships and the business will come.
Thank you to Laura for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat to TDP and giving us a business insight into the fashion world.