EDITORIAL FROM SYDNEY GIFT FAIR 2022 CATALOGUE: From a small warehouse and a noisy fax machine to a very successful wholesale business today, Flair Gifts & Home celebrate 30 years of business through reflecting on the highlights, the challenges and the moments that make it all worthwhile.
AGHA caught up with Amanda Brandt, daughter of John Doyle who started Flair International Gifts in 1992 and sadly passed away in January 2021. We asked some of her and John’s favourite memories over the past 30 years and how they got to where they are today.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST WHEN YOUR FATHER STARTED FLAIR IN 1992?
I recall the fax ringing at night with long rolls of paper full of drawings and designs from India. Dad had been a head buyer at Coles Myer for over 35 years, which gave him the chance to travel and source the most successful products. With the establishment of Flair, he saw an opportunity in the market for decorative items to be imported to Australia and became a pioneer in the homewares industry.
ANY FAVOURITE, MOST MEMORABLE PRODUCTS FROM THE LAST 30 YEARS?
One of our earliest and most successful products was a brass ‘keys-n-coins’ dish. We estimated that Flair has sold over one million pieces of this handy product over the years and even today a variation of the 30-year-old product continues to sell well.
LOOKING BACK OVER 30 YEARS IN BUSINESS, WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT?
The highlight is certainly the relationships we’ve made along the way. We have the same agent in India now, as we did in 1992, they’ve become family. We’ve developed friendships with many of our original customers who continue to build successful businesses with us today. We have come to know their families, partnerships, and the intricacies of their market area. We love supporting their business growth as their ongoing success is our success.
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE INDUSTRY AND HOW HAVE FLAIR ADAPTED?
The introduction and growth of the online world has changed the industry. Flair Gifts & Home was an early adopter of a wholesale website and we have valued this tool ever since. Social media has also been a positive change for us as we can promote new products instantly and connect with our customers. Whilst a new concept to my father John, he knew it was a great tool to reach our customers.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Inspiration and designs come from constantly bringing together ideas, colours, and shapes from existing and new products. We know our customers; we talk with them daily and get their feedback. When you search for design and push for as near-perfect product as you can with your supplier, and the clients love it, it brings a great sense of satisfaction and drives you to do it again and improve each time.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM MOTIVATED DURING CHALLENGING TIMES?
By accepting that some things are beyond our control. We like to think that we care for people beyond business. We greatly value our staff and try to thank them every day, which has resulted in only 1 change of staff over 30 years. We’re a family at Flair, we love what we do, and we have the energy and joy of designing new lines—new samples arriving feels like Christmas Day for us.
HOW HAS AGHA HELPED FLAIR GIFTS & HOME GROW OVER THE YEARS?
We’ve been a member of the AGHA since our very first Gift Fair in August 1992. AGHA assists with many areas of our business and is primarily there for us to grow, however, the people we have met through the AGHA community is what it’s all about. We have developed strong relationships with other members of AGHA and the support for each other is always amazing.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR RETAILERS AND BUYERS TO ATTEND SYDNEY GIFT FAIR AND FUTURE AGHA GIFT FAIRS?
Hands down, to see products in person and connect with each other. Our retailers are so keen to return to the Gift Fairs and we have gained many new customers over the past 2 years who we would love to meet in person. The trust is there now with Flair supplying great product efficiently and we would love the opportunity to show them our great products to widen their Flair range and experience.
WHAT NEW RANGES CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING AT SYDNEY GIFT FAIR?
Our picnic range has grown with a huge focus on outdoor entertaining such as the salad bowls. Our homes will continue to be our greatest asset and being comfortable within them, surrounded by beautiful products is more important now than ever.