Client Story: Denim Iniquity

Denim Iniquity is no secret to discerning fashion mavens who have shopped the King William Road store for distinct fashionable clothing for over 40 years. What started as a denim destination for on-trend consumers in Adelaide, has fast become an online sensation reaching customers all over Australia. They focus on approachable design in hand with quality tailoring, showcasing hand-picked labels such as Jac + Jack, Bassike, Camilla and Marc, Alessandra Cashmere, St Agni Studio, SIR, Friends with Frank, Lee Mathews, Binny, Sol Sana, Alias Mae, as well as leading denim designers and imports. 

From off the runway looks to accessories and jewellery to designer specs, Denim Iniquity continues to meet the needs of the world’s best-dressed women.

Their arrival online could not have been better planned. A fortunate twist of fate forced their hand before COVID, making it necessary to speed up plans to build the e-commerce side of the business. Before COVID, roadwork had disrupted customer traffic which made the e-commerce option far more appealing.  As a result, their online shop was primed to meet growing demand as lockdowns changed the retail landscape. They continue to remain a major player as the go-to online retailer for women seeking a unique collection of fashion-forward clothing worldwide.

The Early Days of the Denim Iniquity Journey

Louise’s mother started the journey, opening the shop just over 40 years ago in the former storefront of a sex shop. Intending to open a denim shop, they decided to use the sex shop as inspiration. With a very clever play on words, they turned the former “den of iniquity” into the current Denim Iniquity.

Louise moved to Japan when she was 17 and spent four years in Asia. Upon her return, her mother was ready to sell the business and Louise decided she’d like to buy it. Instead of selling her share to Louise, her mum proposed the two of them buy out the mother’s partner, and the rest as they say is history.

Although they’ve since moved one shop over into a larger store, the Mother-Daughter team have remained true to their original idea to sell quality women’s clothing, with a focus on denim. More recently, they’ve also expanded their services to include in-home wardrobe editing and in-store personal styling.

Meeting COVID-19 Challenges Head-On

COVID-19 proved to be an odd boost for Denim Iniquity. As providence stepped in by way of road work, the team had an early start on their online store. As a result, they avoided the slowdown that many small retailers experienced due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

They also took advantage of the slowdown in foot traffic to renovate the entire store. They engaged an interior designer and architect with plans to “reopen with a bang.” They spared no expense, engaging the designer who did the Sky Bar in the casino and the Aesop store in Rundle Street.

Just as the designer was ready to present the designs, the lockdown was announced. After a brief moment of panic, Louise’s business smarts kicked in and they rallied on. They completed the project and were able to meet their goals for a fabulous reopening.

Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

One of the main messages Louise wants to share with up-and-coming business owners is to listen to their own instincts. If something’s not right, cut your losses and move on and learn from your mistakes. That’s at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit. At the same time, be sure to back the winners and continue to invest in your own success. You must be willing to back yourself and move forward fearlessly.

When the company stands a chance to succeed, she also stresses the importance of investing in yourself. Her example is her decision to embrace social media and use it as an excellent marketing tool. Taking the time to post intriguing photos of new arrivals has paid off for her in spades. She says as soon as she posts something, it sells out almost immediately. She feels the secret to moving winning merchandise in retail is to throw some money into promoting it and see the sales come in.

Louise learned early on that she can’t compete with the websites of retailers who have a big budget to invest in making all things pretty. Instead, she turned to social media to drive traffic to her website and avoided investing unwisely in overdone web design. However, she also understands websites, especially in an industry like fashion, have to remain fresh or a brand becomes old. Energy and money invested in a fresh website that is constantly updated is the other side of their success coin.

Clarke & Brownrigg’s Role In the Denim Iniquity Journey

Louise appreciates their approach to accounting in that they don’t leave her to manage throughout the year until tax time arrives. Instead, they have a personal approach as if they have a vested interest in her company and will call to ask if she’d like to come in, review her finances and be prepared.

They look at how the year is tracking and help her understand where she sits financially. She feels that because of this approach, she is never faced with regrets of having missed out on an opportunity because she always knows what her finances can provide. It’s not just about understanding what she can claim to reduce her taxes at lodging time, but instead what she can and can’t afford to do throughout the year. It is this support of growth and helping control spending unwisely that has allowed her to assess needs and make smart decisions such as her renovation project.  

Without giving too much away, what are the future plans for the business?

Louise is now in the desired position to look at further expansion. She looked at opportunities due to her online success, but also considered what more she can do in the shop. Having completed a successful renovation, she considered the possibility of expanding into the space next door, as well as taking a long hard look at her website and doing a complete refresh. After some long thought and discussions with her husband, she decided to push out into the back of the shop’s outdoor storage area and expand the whole shop footprint. She then leased a garage site to store stock. Next, she’d like to expend more energy into the online store and perhaps seek offsite office space to accommodate the team more comfortably.

Although she says she’ll miss the whole team being together at the shop, the need to support online efforts are pointing towards having a dedicated marketing team to keep things moving forward. With a rockstar team, the business can expand its reach and provide more meaningful experiences to customers. Denim Iniquity can put effort into doing more electronic direct mail campaigns which have proven very successful for her in the past. With more people, Louise can accomplish her goals but still have time to breathe! 

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