Zoe Paul is a 31 year-old go getter. Not only is she the lady behind the fashion brand Mister Zimi (along with her husband Jimi), she is also the mum of two young bubs. Wowsa. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
From a simple idea only five years ago, Mister Zimi has become a brand all girls want on their backs. Even celebrities around the world are sporting some Mister Zimi gear. With one shop in Melbourne, three in Bali and 24 staff members; this family business is growing rapidly every day, and the best thing about this is it’s a young gun husband and wife combo who are the the helm.
Zoe let me pick her brain about running Mister Zimi.
When and why did you decide to start Mister Zimi?
It all started by accident really. Jimi and I knew that we wanted to live in Bali, but we didnt know what it was that was going to take us there.
On one of the last holidays we went on before we moved here, I designed a leather jacket from scratch, it was unlike other jackets I had seen, and I was so happy with the result. The jacket was delivered to our hotel with the name ‘Mister Zimi’ on it. They got Mrs Zoe and Mr Jimi confused. The name stuck! When I took the jacket back to Melbourne, within a week I had 50 orders for it from friends and friends of friends. Three months later we went back had all the jackets made in a week, and took them back to Melbourne. It started from there, and six months later we moved to Bali to set up production for a few months, so I could do it on the side. That was four years ago and we work on the business full time now. It’s come so far in such a short time we are still pinching ourselves and thinking how did this happen?
It’s great. We work really well together, and we have similar taste. Jimi runs the business side of things and I do the design. There is no way I could do it on my own as I’ve never been a good business woman, I hate numbers! Jimi also designs all our prints, we work together on colours and he comes up with the designs, I’m very proud of him; for someone with a property background to have taught himself graphic design! He does an awesome job. We have our moments, there are times in the office when arguements might get a little too heated and I look around at my staff and they have their jaws dropped, I guess that wouldn’t happen if you were not husband and wife. But on the whole it’s great. We spend all our time together, and our children comes with us everywhere too, they love it in the office.
What have been the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome with your business?
For Jimi and I we have had no previous experience in fashion and production. So every day we are learning, and being in another country you basically need to find everything out for yourself. There are no white pages or Google for production needs in Bali, it’s all about getting on your motorbike and exploring. Asking millions of questions to locals, so they can give you some advise of where to go for everything.
Whats the best and worst thing about being your own boss?
I love being my own boss, I don’t think I could ever go back to working for someone else. Maybe I was never good at taking directions!? Haha!
Worst thing is never having a switch off button. Although we can take a long lunch break if we want, most nights Jimi and I are working instead of relaxing in front of the tv.
What would you say are three things you need to be sure of before starting your own business?
Find a gap in the market, be different, have excellent customer relations!
It can be expensive starting your own business, what would be your advice for minimising costs?
We started it differently, as we had samples which people tried on and then ordered, so we never had to outlay any of our own money at the start. This was an excellent way for us to start something with out money backing us.
How have you got your clothes on so many celebs backs?
We have fantastic PR agents, one in Sydney and one in LA. The most recent and most exciting was Kourtney Kardashian wearing one of our dresses on her show, that was a pinch myself moment for sure.
What are your hopes and dreams for Mister Zimi?
Everything has happened so fast, I’m just riding the wave as it comes. It was only 4 years ago that we started Mister Zimi as a full time business, and it’s amazing how fast it’s grown. I don’t like to put too much pressure on the business or myself by setting huge goals, we will see where it goes, it’s very exciting.
Thanks you SO much Zoe. We are super proud of you here at Show + Tell and are rather fond of your get up too… xx