Jenny and Gemma, SIL’s and best friends originally from the UK, have in my opinion taken Monroe’s words to heart… and then some. Birthing babies and a business simultaneously, they launched the Australian arm of fabulous UK shoe brand Palmaira Sandals with a toddler and 6mo in tow.
Founded by another sister pairing, Tracey and Lisa, Palmaira Sandals are handmade in a factory in the Spanish locale of Menorca. “We brought our first 40 pairs from the UK girls in Jan 2014 and sold them through Facebook and did Palmaira parties originally,” explain Jenny and Gemma. “The response was great and quickly we founded Palmaira Sandals Australia.” The girls took up a stall at Bondi markets for a time but struggled to make any traction for the first 18 months. “It was then that we went from selling 10 pairs a week to selling out of our 600 pairs in 24 hours after launching a like & share competition to win a pair of Palmaira’s. The post received 33k shares and over 100K likes. It reached over 1.2m people!! Things just went from strength to strength.”
On their first sale Gemma admits feeling a tad awks, “It was to my boss at the time and I was quite surprised someone had bought them. I was excited but felt awkward taking the money! lol. It was the best feeling ever to know that ladies loved them as much as we do!!”
Their stunning footwear combines everything a woman could want in a solemate, from electrifying colour ways to supreme comfort. As sassy as a heel without the pain (and height), unless you opt for a wedge style, any one of the Palmaira pairs will add instant flair to your ensemble. I want a pair in every colour, the Dorothy espadrille is my personal favourite with its metallic red heel and stained glass window effect front.
From chic flats to mesmerising espadrilles, some with a high ankle back, wedges and even a select kids range; Palmaira Sandals are quite simply eye-catching foot candy! How this interview even came about in the first place is all thanks to the Dorothy soles adorning Gemma’s feet at brunch one morning. A compliment directed at her ankles led to hours of conversation as I discovered there was so much more than first met the eye in this super stylish gorgeous girl who like me juggles her business with three littles.
Total mums with hustle, Gemma and her SIL Jenny who has since added a second munchkin to her own brood, are the epitome of sisters (in law) doing it for themselves! With only rudimentary experience of fashion design between them, the once insurance broker and sales girl are proof that hard work, dedication and a subscription to the right YouTube tutorials pay off!
The girls admit it’s been a hard road to making their business the success that it is. “We had no infrastructure in place (at the start) and would hand-write each thank you note, each parcel etc. It took us two weeks to get all the orders out.” All that and playing Mum simultaneously!! “With no family around to help and our husbands at work we had to juggle the two,” say the fashion duo. “It has been a massive juggling act but 5 babies down and 4 years into the business, we still absolutely LOVE what we do!!”
It should come as no surprise that with an eye for great print and colour combinations on the footwear they produce, the same applies to the girls personal dress sense. “Jenny loves a jumpsuit and a big knit, anything bold, blingy and clashing,” says BFF Gemma, “And she loves the biggest earrings she can find!” And what of Gemma? “She loves a tutu,” confesses Jenny, “(her style is) colourful, blingy with maybe a hint of skater chic!”
Sisters, success and style make for a very powerful combination which is reflected in the incredible growth of their business. “The business has more than doubled in growth each year. Sometimes we could get 500 orders a day,” say the girls. “What people didn’t necessarily know was that we were packing the orders, answering emails and managing returns all by ourselves for the first few years with very little help. We still run a very tight team despite sending out 30k pairs last year.”
Nominated for the 2018 Telstra Business Awards, Palmaira Sandals Australia made it into the final 6 out of 10,000 entrants; a huge achievement for such a fledgling brand and there is no doubt their star will only continue to rise. Utilising the power of social media, the girls have racked up over 100,000 followers on Facebook and almost 50,000 followers on Instagram.
Factory visits to Menorca, stock taking in Sydney and due care and attention to each pair of handmade soles not to mention their respective families; J&G are a fashion force to be reckoned with.
Click here to browse the collections at Palmaira Sandals Australia.