Like many of us, Sophie Doyle was burned out from her job. But unlike many of us, she decided to quit, go on a sabbatical and then grow what is now a $4.5m company - The Fable. While recovering at the yoga ashram in India, a chance meeting in a TukTuk led her to exploring ethical factories in the local area. She came up with the idea to develop the perfect silk shirt, which is made from lush fabric and is machine washable.. No dry cleaning needed! Here is Sophie's story. Q: Tell me more about the chance meeting in the Tuk Tuk.
A: Tuk Tuk drivers are like taxis in India and I used them often ,finding it an easy way to get around. They generally don’t speak much English but one day I chanced upon one who did and I got chatting to him.
I was interested in textiles and asked him questions about the fabric markets. He said he could take me on a tour of the markets and drop me off at factories which welcomed tourists. Q: Why are your silk shirts "perfect"? How are they different from the ones you used to wear in your corporate job? A: I think perfect is subjective but the qualities I always looked for in silk shirts were the cut, and I love a relaxed, loose fitting design.
A super soft and luxe feeling silk, heavy in weight is key here. Washable is also important, dry-cleaning for a daily wear piece isn’t ok.
I also love a range of staple colours and prints. I was never into seasonal shades which you’d feel were outdated wearing the next year. Q: You launched in 2015 and are now your business makes $4.5 m a year. What's your secret? A: No real secret here to be honest!. Initially the brand grew organically as there wasn’t budget for paid marketing.
Influencer reach was key at this time. Partnering with The Iconic early on was helpful in gaining brand awareness too.
Once I started investing in paid media the brand grew properly and has grown year on year since. The best channels I find marketing wise are Meta and Google. Klaviyo is also a great platform for email retention. Q: Did your family and friends support you when you took the plunge, selling your car for $7k to fund your first order? A: Yes they absolutely did. I was very lucky to have a supportive family and boyfriend (now husband). Their view was give it a crack as what’s the worst that could happen. Q: Have you been surprised about the popularity of your shirts? A: In the early days I remember every sale and used to send them myself. Now I see women on the streets wearing the shirts which I love. Q: Apart from shirts, what else does The Fable sell? A: We started off just selling shirts and have since expanded our range to include sleepwear and t-shirts. Q: Do you have any advice for people wanting to start their own business? A: Have a crack but make sure you set things up in a way that’s sustainable. It can take time to draw an income from a new business so figure out how you’ll live during that time.
As a business grows, unless you choose to take on funding, all funds are generally reinvested back into the business which is great but it can mean there’s not a lot left over in the early days for you.