Meet the Maker: Jeremy Heffernan, Managing Director of Starsub Apparel
Team Buy Aussie Now
This story was written by several Buy Aussie Now team members.
Starsub Apparel manufacture from the ground up polos, tees, singlets, hoodies, track tops, shorts, track pants and compression wear to name a few. Their fabric is sourced locally and they are proudly 100% made from the ground up here in Melbourne. They supply all sports, schools and businesses.
How did you start your homegrown business?
After 18 months of research, the most telling fact was dye sublimation was the only manufacturing industry that had forecast double digit growth year after year. In essence, demand exceeded supply. We mortgaged our homes, my partner and I didn’t take a cent out of the business for the first two years. We sacrificed plenty and went without a lot. We commenced producing for Kookaburra, Canterbury, Cotton On, TWW, Intersport and a range of other resellers. When a large importer went into Liquidation in late 2016 we were pressured to take on a more public face which we did.
What inspires you?
There is a saying – only two sorts of people out there – those that have had the horror import experience and those that are yet to. We hear the horror stories daily from people who were promised the world. The unwitting who ordered a polo but received a grey one. It was supposed to take 4 weeks but took 8. They ordered 50. Only received 45. They wanted 25 x Medium & 25 x Large. They received 23 x Small & 22 x XL. We don’t offer excuses. Memorable customer service experiences are our best form of advertising. We pride ourselves on never letting our brand down.
What are the benefits of manufacturing locally?
Too many to list them all. Highest Quality. No minimums – never carry costly stock. Carcinogen free guaranteed. We do not utilise child labour. No lock in contracts. Effortlessly match to existing garments. Sponsorship generation initiatives that only a local manufacturer can offer with the ability to raise thousands. Customise to any body shape or size on singular garments. 7, 14, 21 Production time frames. Fast to market. Incredibly responsive. We’ve produced in hours because we control all the processes and are beholding to no one. We’ve also invested in the best technology in the world to allow us to produce a photographic quality garment faster than anyone else can.
What makes the Australian consumer unique?
Our addiction to sport. It’s insatiable. From an early age whether it be Auskick, Junior Blast Cricket or Net Set Go (Netball) to lawn bowls or cycling in your 70’s. It’s part of our DNA. Similarly, so is the desire for sports apparel.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
My old high school mantra – “Age Quod Agas – That which you do, do well. It’s always resonated. Whatever you do in life give it 100%, leave nothing on the table and never waiver. Myself and many mates I went through school with were not necessarily the brightest and the best but one thing we all had in common was an unparalleled work ethic.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in business?
Cashflow was always a challenge. We’ve never had over drafts or the like and ensuring you stay on top of debt collection is pivotal.
What has been your positive takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic?
The push back to Australian Made has never been stronger. We hear and read about it every day. Buy Aussie Now is the perfect example by creating a vehicle that will ultimately lead to Aus Made businesses not only surviving but thriving and even encouraging new start-ups. The irony of purchasing goods from 8000km’s away when we make perfectly good sporting apparel right here in Australia is not lost on many people today and we’re already seeing unscrupulous importers crowing “Australian Owned” “Australian Designed” trying to bluff the consumer – they’re afraid and so they should be.
Do you keep your vegemite in the fridge or pantry?
Pantry, it doesn’t last long enough in our house to warrant going into the fridge.
Favourite Australian film quote?
“That’s not a knife….This is a knife” – Crocodile Dundee
Check out Starsub Apparel, a multi-faceted Australian based sports clothing manufacturer.