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CONNECT with Mari & Clay

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Mari & Clay
John Chen

Welcome to CONNECT SERIES: 2021, where we talk to our brilliant and budding MRF founders! Here we explore the ups and downs and the wins and fails of pursuing your dream of starting a label... And most importantly the wisdom, tips and tricks you learn along the way!

This week we speak to John Chen about her founders journey at Mari & Clay!

What skills have helped you from daydreaming about your dream brand to exhibiting at MRF?

It is easy to daydream, but it is challenging to build the dream from the ground up. There are many skills you will need along the way, but for us, the most important one is the skill to ask questions. Online retailing was unknown territory for me and my business partner, so we had to ask our friends and experts a lot of questions right from the start. Not every answer was helpful, but most of them definitely steered us in the right direction.

What lies in the heart of your brand and designs?

We want to offer something different to the consumers, Mari & Clay is not just another online retailer. We are an eyewear company that gives a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. Our goal is to inspire people to make that conscious choice in their daily lives, and together we can create a significant change for a better planet. This idea is deeply embedded in everything we do and design.

Do you have advice for other designers dreaming of having a fashion label?

Dream big, start small so you can navigate around easily (especially in the current environment), and keep asking questions!

What is one key piece of advice you have learned on your journey?

Smaller inventory makes your company more agile, and quicker to adapt to changes.

What is the best part of your role?

Customer Service! I love every interaction with our customers, whether it's good or bad.

What skills have served you well in your brand journey?

You need to know exactly why the brand exists and make sure everything within the business stands by that.

What challenges have you faced getting to where you are now? Is there one that stands out the most?

We have faced many challenges along the way, but two of them probably stand out the most, one is inventory management and the other one is the supplier.

What do you want people to know about your brand/your role?

Mari & Clay is not just a brand, it's a belief, and we would love to meet more people with similar beliefs in the industry.

What's non-negotiable in your schedule?

Being a true Melbournian, a nicely brewed coffee in the morning is non-negotiable for me!

CONNECT with John and Mari & Clay at MRF 2021!