Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Teegan, I’m the founder and designer for Uncle May. I was born on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland but moved to Melbourne 6 years ago where I currently live and run my business. Before starting my career in the fashion industry I was a dancer and dance teacher for over 20 years but after moving to Melbourne I knew it was time for a new challenge and a career change. I made the decision to go back to university at 26 years old to study Fashion & Textiles Merchandising. After graduating I interned and worked for several Australian clothing labels as a product developer and print designer. After two years of working for other companies I knew I wanted to start something of my own.
What exactly is Uncle May?
Uncle May is a women’s lifestyle clothing label. We design wardrobe staples in natural fabrics such as linen, bamboo and cotton. The idea behind the label is to get back to basics (literally) and to create classic clothing to last throughout the seasons. Uncle May pieces are not inspired by the latest trends but instead considered for their longevity and timelessness. I’m always asking myself “Is this a style that people will wear next month or next year?” I’m really trying to encourage the idea that our clothes should be worn over and over again. I think with the rise of social media and “sharing” our outfits people don’t want to be seen wearing the same thing. Uncle May is all about showing our community that it’s ok (in fact, it’s great) to repeat your outfits.
What inspired you to start Uncle May?
Uncle May officially started a little over a year ago but there were months of planning beforehand. I’d always intended to have my own label but didn’t plan on it happening for another few years. I just woke up one day and thought, why not just start it now otherwise I’ll keep putting it off and making excuses about not being ready. Slowly I chipped away at it whilst working two jobs and eventually it started coming together. I chose the concept for Uncle May because I’d often struggled to find good quality basics that not only fit well and lasted but also felt great to wear. So that’s the goal behind every garment. I find there are a lot of fast fashion stores that stock a range of basics but it often seems as though more of an afterthought. I wanted to create a brand that focuses purely on basics.
How did you come up with the name?
Deciding on a name for the brand took a long time! I wanted a name that wouldn’t define the brand so much but something that would have a familiar feel to it. I also wanted a name that was both masculine and feminine. I’d decided on “Uncle” and knew I wanted to pair it with a female’s name. One of my Dad’s Aunties was named May. I loved how it sounded together so that’s Uncle May was born.
Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?
We have our own online store and we are also stocked on various marketplaces online. The brand is also stocked in several bricks and mortar boutiques in Victoria.
You donate 5% of your purchases, can you tell us about that?
Giving back is something I’ve always been passionate about so I thought it would be a great opportunity to donate through the business. TLC is a wonderful organization creating opportunities and improving the daily life of children, families and communities in Cambodia. One of their programs is about improving the education system and allowing children to receive an education, something many of us take for granted. I believe it’s so important to give children a proper education so they have a chance to live to their potential.
What is your favourite part about running Uncle May?
I think the best part is that I’m continually learning and evolving through the business each and every day. I’m definitely more of a creative person and I’m grateful that I can be as part of my job but I also love the balance of working on other aspects of the business such as financial and administration.
What is your least favourite part about running Uncle May?
Being patient as the business grows. I feel as though I have so many ideas and I sometimes become frustrated that I can’t implement these as quickly as I’d like.
Is there a favourite product?
I’m lucky because I fit within the target market of the brand so I’m always wearing the product. My favourite t-shirt would be one of the first products I designed- it’s a simple cotton tee but the fabric is so comfy to wear and a great classic piece.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
It may sound simple but I believe it’s important to build a strong support team and surround yourself with like-minded people. The support of your friends and family is important but having fellow entrepreneurs close by or people in a similar position that you can talk to is invaluable. Sometimes you just need a little extra motivation, some help or some unbiased advice. There are also lots of great community groups to join for entrepreneurs and small businesses on Facebook. I use these regularly for advice and for connecting with other local businesses and business women.
Do you have a favourite quote or go to saying?
At the moment I love this quote- “You give life to what you give energy to.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Try not to compare yourself to others, go at your own pace and don’t be afraid to play by your own rules.