Meet the Founder:
We spoke to Founder and Creative Director of Bydee, Dee Hairis, about getting her start, building a brand and what's next for #Bydeeaus!
Left: Dee Hairis, Founder & Creative Director
Above: Greek Seaside Restaurant, Pinterest
When you think of fashion Founders, it’s easy to envisage the pop-cultural icons of recent years. The enormous sunglasses of Anna Wintour (or Miranda Priestly) or the busy bodies of European fashion weeks. But there is another stream of founders emerging who represent the ever-changing, up and coming fashion and global landscape. With a focus on ethical production, environmental sustainability in the industry and presenting all shapes and sizes of women, Bydee is one of those brands coming out of Australia at the moment!
I sat down recently with our Founder and Creative Director, Dee in Bydee’s new Headquarters to speak about the origins of the brand and her background in fashion. She’s in her usual nineties inspired outfit, consisting of Italian leather shoes, warm neutral tones and simple jewellery, her effortless style is immediately evident. Fresh flowers have just arrived at the office and she’s a little surprised. “It’s not my birthday for another week!” she’s already repeated twice today and it’s only Monday. Sitting down at the Bydee lunch table, I ask about the origins of the business. Starting Bydee from her mother’s kitchen bench whilst still studying Fashion Design at the University of Technology, Sydney, Dee spent each weekend at different markets selling her own swimwear and intimates. Now the head of a team of 7 employees, I wonder if it’s a strange feeling.
"It’s a really exciting feeling and overwhelming at the same time. I never dreamed of this because I didn’t think it was ever possible so it’s a real pinch-me moment for me and for the business.”
When we speak about entering the field of fashion, I ask if self-doubt was ever an issue. Refreshingly, Dee tells me, “To be honest, I was so young when the business started, I didn’t have enough time or experience to be self-conscious. I was just creating the pieces I wanted to create and knew the niche I wanted to be in. I really didn’t think about what would happen if it all didn’t work.” The UTS Fashion Designer course launched not only Dee's design career but also allowed her the opportunity to form strong bonds in the industry and establish what kind of designer she was interested in being. “I always loved the little details in design, the intricate parts. I was never interested in doing the bigger pieces, like the suit pants or blazers. I loved the beading and the extra touches and so bikinis and intimates were the obvious choice to me!” As a young designer, it would be easy to get side-tracked by the work of all those around but at what point did Dee know she was onto a good idea? “My very first day at the markets, I ended up selling out of all my stock. I made the most money I’d ever made in that one day and it was such a vote of confidence, even though in hindsight it certainly wasn’t an extraordinary amount of money. What it allowed me to do was spend the days of the week sewing and designing and re-investing in the business.” The world of social media reinforced this boom, with Bydee customers spreading the word at home and internationally.
"I was just creating the pieces I wanted to create"
“I always loved the little details in design, the intricate parts."
Right: Sicilia Print from the Mediterranean Collection
Below: BTS from Palm Springs Shoot, SS21
From there, the business became big enough to employ a few key members of staff. One key member of the team is Dee’s Mum, Sia, part of the Intimates team, keeping the business with a real family feel. When the time came that Dee realised what she had on her hands was the very beginnings of a business, she tells me what she found most surprising was the influence of the people you trust and allow around your business. “When I first started at the markets, I was amazed by the ingrained sense of hierarchy…in the sense, that you immediately felt like you had to earn your stripes to be included in the vibe of the marketplace. I made the decision to really not buy into that and instead, once I began to surround myself with people who really saw the sky as the limit, I met more and more people like that. That’s really how I met my business mentor, Mick. That was quite a pivotal time for the business.” Did it make Dee assess the mindset she approached the growth of the business with? “Absolutely,’ she says, “the more people I saw with a can-do attitude, the more obvious it became that that was the kind of business I wanted to build.”
Going from strength to strength very quickly can be daunting for any new businesswoman and with Dee’s success came a lot of learning on the job. When we speak of what she wishes she’d known, she says that, like so many younger Founders, she wishes she’d listened to her own intuition more than other peoples.
"What do I wish I'd known?"
“I do make a practice of trusting my gut and I am an assertive founder but there were periods of time where I wish I’d done my own research and felt my way into it a little more.”
SS21 Palm Springs
Left: Santa Barbara Print
Above: Malibu Print
With all that in mind, it’s clear that Dee's vision is her own. For starters, she moved into the new Bydee HQ and immediately painted the floor the trademark ‘Bydee Pink’! “The HQ is really coming together now,” she says. “It feels like an extension of the business.” When she speaks of the office, the pride is evident. When asked about her favourite part of her day in the office, it’s definitely the mornings, she says. “First thing in the morning when we come in and all talk about our nights and what we’ve done since we saw each other. Being such a small close team, we all know a lot about each other and each other’s lives so we’re all just in constant conversation,” she laughs. “Seeing people come to work and want to be here is a really amazing feeling. Either that part of the day or when we all break in the middle of the day to sit and have lunch together. Our obsession with Fishbowl is very real.”
The most recent ‘big step’ for Bydee was the release of the new SS21 Collection and the release of the associated photoshoot in Palm Springs. With many recent restocks selling out in a matter of days, it can be easy to forget to stop and take it all in. When asked about how she celebrates the company’s ‘wins’, her honesty is refreshing. “This is something I’m working on because I can forget to do that. I’ve spent a lot of time looking forward to the next thing on my to-do list, not standing still to look around me and see what we’ve created. It’s often easier for me to celebrate the creative wins than the financial wins because the business was never really about the money for me.” When asked what celebrating the wins more looks like to Dee, she replies with a wry smile, “I don’t know… maybe it’s as simple as popping a bottle of champagne. Taking the team out for a boozy lunch…those kinds of things. With the Christmas party coming up, we’ll definitely be celebrating the growth we’ve had despite a really challenging year for everyone.”
With lots on the horizon for Bydee and the Australian summer just beginning, Dee is set to be a busy woman but she definitely carries it all with charm and an air of ease. Her team is growing, new collections are being launched and the Bydee community is expanding and it’s all still very early days!