Sisters Natalia and Daniella Dionyssiou were just 17 and 19 when they opened their first fashion store in Brisbane in 2007. They started small with a “tiny” space while they were both studying fashion design.
The pair had been working part-time in their parents’ shoe shop in between their studies, and started selling hand tie-dyed silk duster coats and kimonos they made themselves.
A $30,000 loan from their parents was “just enough” to buy stock and open the doors on their first shop which was the start of their fashion label Verge Girl.
The brand is now a booming international success turning over $40 million a year and boasting a string of celebrity clients.
The pair revealed they were aiming for a turnover in excess of $100 million in the next five years.
While the sisters had plenty of customers at their first store in Brisbane’s Elizabeth Arcade, the big breakthrough came when they moved the business online in 2014.
“It took a good six months to kick off our online store but once it took off it was seriously like a rocket, there was no turning back,” Daniella shared with news.com.au.
“With our physical store, we could do no more,” she said. “We would have a line out the arcade that our store was in, of young women wanting to get into our shop on a weekly basis.
“When we decided that it would be a cool idea to go online, we had little cards for girls to fill out their email addresses which we would put into our database one by one.”
Their focus is on style and quality at an affordable price – with tops starting at $39, $45 for skirts, $49 for shorts and pants and $55 for dresses.
“We have always made it our mission to provide young women with affordable and cool clothing,” Natalia told news.com.au.
The label has grown into a global success with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Maddie Ziegler, Kendall Jenner and Ariana Grande sharing images of themselves wearing the label.
“We are often contacted by the stylists of A-list celebrities and of course we love seeing these kinds of women in our clothing,” Natalia said. “It shows so clearly that style is not about what you’re wearing but how you wear it, which is exactly what we are about.”
The business is now solely an online venture with an estimated 60 per cent of the brand’s revenue coming from international sales.
“We started our online store seven years ago which completely blew our expectations,” Natalia said.
“In the early days it was really organic and mostly word of mouth but, of course, as the influencer trend grows so do our followers,” she explained. “We have a massive influencer network who support us regularly.”
Verge Girl has gone from strength to strength during COVID – managing not only to increase sales but to hire new staff as well.
“Customers having not much choice but to order online has shown how easy and fun it is to shop online. There isn’t a better feeling than having a parcel arrive at your door, especially with this year’s doom and gloom,” Daniella said.
“Our sales have grown exponentially and we are proud to be able to have not only kept all our staff on, but also hire a number of new team members.”
To cope with high stock volumes and sales growth, the sisters have purchased another warehouse and leased the warehouse next door.
With parents in the retail fashion space, they both knew they wanted to start their own fashion label from an early age.
They grew up in Melbourne where they say “there was no lack of cool style and clothing” – but when they moved to Brisbane as teenagers they said they “felt like if you weren’t wearing a high-end label then you just weren’t cool enough”.
“The inspiration really came from seeing such a lack of cool and affordable clothing in Brisbane. That was never how we saw fashion and that was why we wanted to see a change,” Natalia said.
“There was really not much on offer for young women who wanted new and exciting clothing, but who were also on a budget. The market was really about higher priced labels or super cheap clothes,” she explained.
“Filling this gap is what inspired us to start in the first place. Our goal was and still is to help young women feel confident and look cool without breaking the bank.”
The pair believe their financial success is due to their focus on “sticking to our core values and mission”. “Not having any investors involved gives us the full ability to make decisions based on what is best for our consumer and not for a bunch of people in control,” Daniella said.
With plans to grow the business from a $40 million turnover which they saw this financial year to $100 million a year in the next few years, the girls remain as ambitious as ever.
“We are so focused on our goals and our future plans,” Daniella said. “When we kick a goal we are grateful and make sure we celebrate our wins, but try to always have bigger and better goals at the forefront of our mind.”
The duo have their own individual styles – Natalia is more feminine while Daniella is more of a tomboy – and they both embody different work styles. Daniella is “organised and business-minded” while Natalia “is quite the opposite and is very creative and fluid”.
“This makes for the perfect business partners, as it is so important to have different strengths to take charge of different areas. We have always been best friends, we compliment each other perfectly. We work together, socialise together and travel together too.” Natalia said.
“Working together as sisters has always been amazing for us. In the beginning, when we were feeling our way around and getting on our feet, we knew we had each other’s back and support 100 per cent,” Natalia said. “As we grew, our strengths and roles became more defined and we very much are in our own lanes now.”
Since Verge Girl started, the entrepreneurs have given a portion of profits to charities close to their hearts, including Sunrise Cambodia, The Australian Red Cross, Mercy Ships, Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation and Mission Pawsible.
“Our mum always taught us as we were growing up that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. We have found this to be 110 per cent truth. What we give feels like a drop in the ocean of the need that is in our world,” Natalia said. “We donate 10 per cent of all our profits to charities and we feel that is our duty as founders of a successful business to do so.”
For others out there who have dreams of turning their idea into a successful multimillion-dollar e-commerce business, the girls have a few words of advice: “Be passionate about what you do. If your work doesn’t inspire you then it’s hard to inspire others,” Daniella said.
“Stick in your lane and don’t be distracted by the people around you,” she added. “If you are always looking at what others are doing it can be a real vibe killer and you can easily lose focus on what you’re doing and why you started.”