By Jess Caire
Conversations with Anna Malovka from O2 Bamboo Clothing
Anna Malovka is the Adelaide mum who is changing the way we wear knickers. Anna has created a line of bamboo undergarments to help us stay fresh and comfy – the BEST bit? There are NO chemicals or toxins in any of the materials used to make them!
So you’ve gone from being an Accountant to designing a range of bamboo undergarments and women’s basics – that’s a massive change – what made you take the leap?
Haha, it sounds strange when you put it like that! Well I studied commerce/accounting and worked in the profession for a little bit before deciding I wanted to explore and pursue other options which included some more study, travel and a few other jobs along the way. A number of years ago I decided that running my own business was what I wanted to be doing so it was a matter of working out what that business was going to be and before I knew it, I was selling bamboo underwear!
You lived in China for a couple of years, and during this time O2 clothing was born – how did you get started?
I was in Shanghai studying Chinese at a University there and as that was coming to an end I needed to think about what I was going to do next. It was at this point that I really started thinking seriously about beginning my own business, though it would be quite a few years before it became my solo gig. I realised that there was no time like the present, especially when you are living in the manufacturing capital of the world! As I investigated options and decided on a basics range made from sustainable materials, it made even more sense to source from China since my raw material, bamboo is grown there. I contacted manufacturers and visited factories until I found the right fit.
You have a little boy, Toby, nearly one (and daughter Gracie 3), how are you managing your mum life and work life?
My son has just started childcare so that has definitely made fitting work in easier! I try to be quite disciplined about work time and family time. On the 3 days they are in care, I cowork from Sass Place to avoid the temptations of time spent home alone! For me being able to work 3 days and be home with my children the other days feels like the right balance for us at the moment. I’m also not one of those people that can really multitask, I need time and space to concentrate on one thing so I feel a lot more sense of satisfaction/accomplishment when I split my days to focus on either business or family.
You launched your online business in 2011 – have you learned any hard lessons along the way?
Yes! Well I guess reality is a hard lesson! You read a lot of stories that make starting a business seem glamourous and/or easy but the internet is a crowded place. Creating a website is only just the beginning.
As a product based business I thought getting my product right was going to be the biggest challenge and the rest would take care of itself. The biggest ‘surprise’ for me was that designing and producing my range, though not without its challenges, was one of the more straight forward parts of running a business. I hadn’t really taken in to account the fact that I would need to ‘sell’. My main job is marketing now, I certainly underestimated the importance of communicating and advertising my brand, and it’s not something that always comes easily for me.
What has been the biggest highlight of O2 wear to date?
Getting the business to a point that I could pay myself something each week was pretty satisfying! I also love reading reviews and emails from customers, preferably when they are happy with their purchase ?
I’ve made a commitment to ‘wear my wardrobe’ – what is your favourite ‘go to’ item?
This is such a good idea for so many reasons – your wallet, the environment and thinking less each morning when you get ready!
I live in jeans, but I better choose some O2wear too! Probably my camisole in summer and long sleeve scoop in winter.
What’s next – can we expect to see some bras and a kids range (puhlease?)
I’ve definitely thought about a baby/children’s range, it’s still just a thought though…I’m considering some basic dresses, think t-shirt style, and maybe expanding the leggings range. Definitely some more colours in our most popular styles too!
SA girl through and through – whats your fav SA destination?
Adelaide hills wineries – is that a destination?!
Henley Beach – I was never a big beach goer, mostly because my skin is incompatible with sunlight but both our children love the water so after some serious slip slop slap we’ve been heading to the beach around Henley. It’s a great family spot, particularly in the evenings for dinner on the grass, and it’s not quite so hot and sunny then either ?
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Love, Jess x