Makayla Maree and Nancy Romano are the co-founders of Aviana The Label, a luxury legwear label with female confidence, independence and empowerment at its core. Launched in Australia in 2021 the brand has become a success in Australia and internationally becoming a favourite amongst Australian A listers and international influencers. The founders are an aunt and niece duo. Nancy Romano is an accomplished international executive, currently with Netflix as the Head of Studio Management across the UK and EMEA. Her experience includes CEO of Fox Studios Australia, senior roles at Twentieth Century Fox and Boeing. Makayla Maree is a marketing specialist with a majority of her experience with start up businesses in the e-commerce and digital space across the fashion and tech industries. Makayla’s achievements with Aviana The Label were recognised in 2021 when she was named in Instagram and Are Media’s 25 Under 25 list, a search for 25 of Australia’s top up-and-coming female entrepreneurs under the age of 25.
Can you tell us a little about your background and mission?
Our mission from the beginning has been to encourage women to embrace their sophisticated femininity, showcase their fashion creativity and champion their freedom to be their fabulous selves. This was made possible by launching AVIANA the Label in 2021 as a niece-aunt duo, offering bold and daring luxe legwear, ethically made in Italy. Both of Italian heritage, we share a lifelong love for fashion, styling and all things Italian made which is showcased through every element of our branding.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
On a weekend away at the beach during a moment of storytelling, Makayla reflected on the time she spent in Italy in her formative years, where she regularly travelled and studied. She developed a passion for European fashion and discovered a classic winter staple – patterned fashion tights. Upon returning to Australia, she realised the European staple was not normalised nor widely available.
Despite entering the corporate world 20 years apart, both Nancy and Makayla experienced the same pressure to subdue their femininity in the workplace. They both recall their need to opt for conservative clothes as a means of ensuring that they were taken seriously in their respective roles. Aviana was launched as a ‘push back’ to societal expectations by encouraging women to lean into their feminine superpower and to express their own fashion style in all facets of life without the fear of judgement.
How did you achieve awareness?
We’ve taken an omni-channel approach which we still use today and includes leveraging social media channels, working with stylists, offering promotions through eDMs, sharing media releases with key journalists, contacting content creators and influencers directly, sponsoring events and more. Each channel achieves a different outcome but using them simultaneously opens new opportunities and allows us to reach new audiences.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We’re a self-funded, female-founded company and have built the business ourselves through a lot of fun, sweat and tears. We have also been able to engage some consultants to provide guidance and assistance in certain areas which has enabled us to create new connections and reach new levels of exposure.
What are the key successes?
Building a loyal customer base that continues to purchase and provide positive feedback, strong relationships with business stakeholders such as suppliers, being endorsed by key opinion leaders and celebrities that wear and speak fondly of our products, having a strong social proof and lastly, maintaining a positive workplace culture that allows us to thrive.
What were / are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
- Having found a gap in the market in Australia, one of our biggest challenges at the start was encouraging women to wear legwear (an uncommonly worn accessory) and incorporate our styles in their wardrobe. We have done this through education – having strong visuals that gives potential customers inspiration on how they can wear and style stockings, providing information on how to put on, take off and take care of our tights as well as showcase the versatility and benefits of the product.
- In the UK & Europe, we have entered an existing saturated market which has challenged us to hone in on our unique selling points and provide customers with a unique, ceremonial, seamless experience.
- Material shortages and price hikes have put pressure on small up-and-coming businesses like ours that can’t meet the large quantities of conglomerates which has restricted our capacity to release new products and collections.
What are your plans now / for the future?
We are continuing to grow our brand on an international scale and grow our customer base in every corner of the world. In the short term, we are excited to be introducing new styles of legwear and move into luxe hand made gloves, with prospects to expand into other product categories in the long term.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
You don’t have to know everything today to be able to launch your dream idea. Learning as you go is the most rewarding and fulfilling part of entrepreneurship. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, it’ll never come, just start today, because in 6 months, 12 months or in 18 months time, you’ll be enjoying the results of the blood, sweat and tears that you put in today.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Start a business that you are passionate about;
- Do not launch a business until you have researched and understood your product;
- Have a clear idea / understanding of who your ideal customer is;
- Keep branding at the forefront of your mind;
- Research your competition;
- Give great customer service;
- Never stop networking; and
- Just do it
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Sara Blakely
- Anna Wintour
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Kris Jenner
- Reed Hastings
Although they are a diverse group, they inspire us both to think outside the square, learn valuable lessons from any mistakes and encourage those around us to be the best version of themselves with grace, gratitude and kindness.
What are your favourite inspirational / motivational quotes?
“I never assumed ever that because I was a woman that anything was off limits to me.”
– Christiane Amanpour.
“We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.” – Trevor Noah
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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