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Quick Fix: Urban Originals on Finding Funding

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Susanna Cates founded Urban Originals in 2000 with the intention of redefining Australian style and creating a collection that was unique, diverse and effortlessly edgy. Her vision was to make quality fashion-forward handbags with a trendsetting appeal for today's savvy female shoppers. What started as a handbag endeavour has escalated into an international phenomenon. Today the brand is also known for its statement jewellery, modern headpieces and online range of shoes. The Sydney-based design studio is one of Australia leading labels and is stocked in over 800 stores globally. Cates says the brand is fast becoming an editor’s favourite, regularly appearing on the pages of fashion magazines, and is snapped up in stores by celebrities such as US singer Kelly Rowland. Noticing that Urban Originals was featuring on blogs as far afield as Tokyo and Los Angeles prompted her to develop the brand’s own in-house blog, providing behind the scenes insights and reporting on trends and emerging fashion and arts talents, in order to spread the international buzz farther. She also applied for EMDG funding to help her attend trade shows in her target markets. "The Export Markets Development Grants scheme has been wonderful for Urban Originals, " she says. "It has assisted the company in showing at some of the world’s best fashion trade shows, including London Fashion Week, Bread and Butter in Berlin and Magic in Vegas." Cates used an export grants consultant which she says has made the EDMG application process reasonably smooth and credits this with having been instrumental in achieving the grant for Urban Originals. "As a result of this financial assistance Urban Originals has been able to grow its International customer base to include big-name stores such as Fred Segal, Kitson, ASOS and Urban Outfitters." With the EDMG assistance international growth has been able to be achieved without negatively impacting the brand’s local growth. Now Cates is in discussions with major distributors in the US and is signing licensing deals for the States, Japan and the United Kingdom which she anticipates will double her turnover in the next year.

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