Creating The Fable: Sophie Doyle’s Path to Fashion Success

In our latest conversation, we are thrilled to chat with Sophie Doyle, the innovative founder of The Fable, a multi-million dollar silk shirt company. Sophie’s journey from a brand manager at L’Oreal Luxury to a successful entrepreneur is truly inspiring. 

Her passion for creating the perfect silk shirt, coupled with her expertise in digital marketing, has led to remarkable success. Balancing a thriving business and a growing family, Sophie shares her experiences, challenges, and insights on how she turned a simple idea into a beloved brand.

Sophie, creating The Fable must have been quite a journey. Can you tell us what inspired you to start this venture and how you transitioned from a marketing executive to the founder of a multi-million dollar silk shirt company?

It sure was, but it is a journey that I’m really happy I took.

Before starting The Fable, I was a brand manager at L’Oreal Luxury. It was a great job but it ultimately wasn’t where I saw myself long term. After four years there I resigned and went to India where I spent some time in a yoga ashram having always loved yoga. While there I stumbled across a textile factory run by women that had a nice energy about it.

I have always loved silk shirts and they have been a staple in my wardrobe for as long as I can remember, but as they require drycleaning and many are not made to last, I figured while I had some time on my hands, I would have a go at making one with the ladies at this factory. After a few goes, we managed to create a shirt that can be machine washable given the thick, lush fabric. It also had the perfect cut to flatter any body type.

I came back to Sydney. Sold my car for $7k and invested in my first shipment of shirts. From there, it was all about e-comm. While I already had some background in e-comm, I set about learning as much as I could and to this day I invest a lot of time learning how to use Meta etc. to the best of my ability. That is what helped The Fable grow.

You’ve managed to achieve an incredible feat with The Fable, turning over $4.5 million a year! What do you think were the key factors that contributed to your business’s rapid success?

One thing is that 55% of my customers have come back to buy from The Fable several times. Therefore, I think the product itself is a major reason why we have been so successful.

I also invest time and money into Meta and other digital marketing channels to ensure that The Fable is seen by the right people.

I have also managed to land a deal with The Iconic, which again is great for brand awareness as so many shoppers use their site.

A lot of it is about brand awareness and visibility, but the product is what keeps people coming back. 

Balancing a thriving business and family life is no small feat, especially with a two-year-old and another baby on the way. How do you manage to juggle your roles as a mother and a businesswoman, and what tips can you share for maintaining this balance?

You are right there! Our daughter was born two weeks ago so the juggle has never been more real.

Your goal was to create the perfect silk shirt, which is both luxurious and practical. Can you share more about the design and production process, and what makes your silk shirts stand out from others in the market?

Honestly, it was really lucky that I was there to work with the ladies and watch their process. I started by showing them a couple of the shirts I had with me, what I liked about them and what I didn’t. We started creating a design from there. We had a few goes before we got the shirt right, but when we did, it was exactly what I hoped it would be.

Then we had a meeting where we discussed fabric types and how we could achieve a machine washable shirt. We came up with a lush silk de chine fabric which was thick and soft. The next step was the colours. You will see that I stick to staple colours with The Fable, but they all have a twist.

For example, our navy and our burnt orange are a bit unique, there is something that elevates them without it being a “trend” that will date. That was also key for me as I wanted to create a product that would transcend seasons and was made to last. 

As someone who has successfully turned a simple idea into a thriving business, what are the top five tips you wish you had known when you started The Fable? How do you think these tips could help other budding entrepreneurs?

  • Get to know META inside and out. I don’t actually consider myself to be a fashion designer, I consider myself to be a digital marketer. Marketing my business is what has made it so successful.
  • Create a product that people will love. Repeat business is what will keep your business successful. However to get this repeat business, you want to make sure your product is made to last, but you have other colours or items that your existing customers will also want to buy. 
  • Create your brand ethically and sustainably. This has always been important to me. Being a “yogi” I always like to know that what I buy has been ethically made. These days, more people care about that and you should too
  • Social media. We have a lot of influencers create content for us that we can post on our socials. Showing your audience how they can style up your items is a good way to have them imagine themselves wearing your clothes
  • Do you have a tip about getting clothes made overseas or how much stock to buy or something like that?

Reflecting on your journey, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting The Fable, and how did you overcome them? Any particular lessons or moments that stand out?

The biggest hurdles were primarily in the early days. Starting a business with no real idea what I was doing, engaging a factory without experience. Learning how to make a product with no knowledge of pattern making. There was a lot of on the job learning back then.

Covid also posed a challenge for the business as our primary customer is the corporate women looking for stylish workwear. With the majority of the workforce working from home this customer didn’t have a need for the product. Being online allowed us to be nimble and start selling in other markets where lockdowns were not imposed however this was definitely a challenge.

The concept of a versatile work-to-dinner outfit is appealing to many professionals. How do you see The Fable evolving in the future to continue meeting the needs of your customers, and are there any new products or plans on the horizon?

There are actually. We just released a silk t-shirt due to the demands of our customers and we have some more colours that have been requested (and make sense) in the works. 

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