Meet Karen founder of PrepDress: her story from idea to launch and all the hard stuff in between.


Meet Karen Tibb, the determined woman behind a product every woman needs and when they find it, love it. The prepdress. A Mum who discovered a need and went out and created a solution for that need. She shares with us her journey from idea, to research to creation to launch, to her first big win. If you've got a great idea niggling in the back of your mind, take it on like Karen did, and be inspired by her own journey with the PrepDress.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their own business?

You have to try! If you want to tick that box then do it, focus, visualise and dream! Be prepared for the pitfalls they are pretty big and no one has a crystal ball.

Mistakes are made, many, but never the same one twice.

It’s a massive learning curve and its exhausting too. Many jobs are! But the rewards are good. I am now about to land my 20th production of PrepDress – they all haven’t been successful – but now I have better fabric, better printing, my ideas for design has grown and I will send off every PrepDress this season with total pride. I feel I finally got there but still with a lot more to do!


What words of advice do you have to anyone about to begin developing their own products?

Not everyone will like your idea. Not everyone will get it. But if you have your product in vision keep going. Keep asking questions. Keep researching. Keep asking yourself how can I make this better. I am still doing that.


How did you get your product idea?

I was getting ready for a wedding. It was a hot day in Melbourne, I had two kids under two in my new ‘renovators delight’ (that’s being generous) I was trying to organise the kids food and express bottles plus wrap the gift. I could not find anything that would fit me and it was hot, too hot for a dressing gown so I was running around trying to do nappies, wrap the gift and everything else and my towel kept falling down and so I had an enormous MUMMA MELTDOWN! I got myself sooo wound up and upset and heard myself softly scream “I just need something to wrap around while I run around and get this sh*t done!”… and so the idea was born!

What is your products point of difference?

I shopped around A LOT. 17month in pram, baby in bassinet and went to every department store. Every store, in and out of the car to look to see if there was any wrap style product on the market. I know I had seen them before I think in a salon but was anyone selling them? Target, DJ’s, Myer, Spotlight, Reject shop, Two dollar shops, Manchester stores, swimwear stores, salons and I finally went into Dimmys and Forges (I think they closed over 10 years ago..) and I found this microfibre towelling big bulky dress with a neck strap!! Its was beyond bad! Then I looked on line and found a ‘bath wrap’ on an American site. I bought it for $60USD and it was the most terrible fabric, some sort of microfibre that gave you an electric shock and the wrap was one size only and no way would it fit around me! Expensive and insulting! So, my goal was to create a practical every day product for Australian women.


We are not one size. I wanted a product that felt good to wear- comfy and soft and your skin could breathe. I wanted to create it in a sustainable fabric so it would wash and wear well. I wanted to add some style by creating a range of these wraps in many different colours and prints but all had to be designed in Australia. I wanted to do this and to deliver to the customer not just a quality piece but also as affordable as possible. And.. I had no idea how to do it!

How long did it take from concept to finished product ready for sale?

My background was in the music industry. I worked in touring, starting at Premier Artists in Melbourne and organising gigs and tours for the best Australian artists in the country, from Noiseworks, Boom Crash Opera to Jimmy Barnes and more! I then moved to Michael Coppel Presents where I worked in logistics on international tours such as Tina Turner, Alanis Morrisette, Metallica and many more. I worked in Melbournes live venue The Continental and then joined the small founding team (3) putting together the now very successful concert series A Day On the Green. After becoming pregnant with my first daughter I resigned. Yes, no maternity leave, I knew I wanted to try something else but had no idea as to what.

I always admired business owners, I thought, how did they do that and how can I do that?

I knew I wanted to try something for myself. I knew I was a hard worker but I really didn’t know what I could offer! So when i came up with ‘PrepDress’ I thougth ok.. lets try it. Having no idea of manufacturing at all and never worked in retail or with fabrics at all – I think I made a tea towel in year 8!! I really had no idea… So I just started asking around. I went into every spotlight store in Melbourne and I am not exaggerating. I went to ask about fabrics and research how to put a sample together. I kept on asking and visiting more stores as some people were much more helpful that others. After many visits I was told I would never find the fabric I needed and that no one imported that fabric to Australia anymore. So I found a local dressmaker bought any fabric I could find just to make a sample. May as well get the pattern, length style right while I tried to source the fabric I got out theyellow pages – yes this is how long this process took I still used the yellow pages!!! I went thought every fabric house in Vic, then NSW then QLD and on and on until one lady advised me “Good luck with that one love, you should just give it up you wont find it anywhere!”

What was the hardest part in that process?

Ok I might be jumping ahead. The hard part was everything! It was a brand new industry, I knew nothing and was learning as I went I still had two kids very small and I started to get sick. Project PrepDress was shelved many times in the next two years. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was losing energy, hair, muscle I had joint pain from hell and skin outbreaks and I was just getting worse. For almost two years PrepDress was on my mind but the energy wasn’t there. I was diagnosed two years later with Coeliac Disease. Never a single stomach ace. Never toilet issues None of the top symptoms. Soon after I picked up Project PrepDress and then a chance run in with an old friend from high school and she said “I can help you” With her years in retail and design and buying my friend introduced me to a factory in Indonesia. I went there with my drawing and my samples in the wrong fabrics and I said im here for a few days lets see what we can do. I boarded the plane back to Melbourne with a few samples and PrepDress was now a thing! During my time that I was unwell and unable to run around I still tinkered with PrepDress. Coming up with the name .. I was driving around in my car tyring to put my son to sleep and was thinking – get ready, getready wrap, wrap around, readywrap, towelwrap, wrap, towel dress, dresswrap, doing my prep, prep, PREPDRESS!!


I pulled over in my car and called my husband “QUICK! Register prepdress buy the name now!”

I then continued to consider and work on the brand and logo and desing and prepare a basic website for when I finally had a real live PrepDress!

How does your product solve your customers' problems?

Women have been fumbling with the bathrrom towel for ever! It only stays up in the movies and even if it stayed up im not sure id walk around the house, do my nails in it, make school lunches in it, cook dinner in it and go out to the mail box in it and even go to school drop in it!! (when I don’t get out of the car!! Its been knowm!) My product, PrepDress is a practical every day ‘get ready’ wrap. You just step out of the shower and wrap it on and you stay cool and covered while you tan, blowdry, curl, straighten, wax, pluck, makeup or pamper! Its comfy it doesn’t dig into you and it stays up right through until you ready to get dressed and walk out the door. I have no idea how I ever got ready without one! Its shower and PrepDress – EVERY DAY!



What do you love about running your own business?

My business is nearly 5 years old but almost 15 in the making. I am hoping to create a business to create my own income. I would love to employ people and give people a great work environment and be able to give back to. That is what I will love for my business. For now I love that I have flexibility. In my past profession I worked nights and weekends and loved it but now I love more flexibitly. I also like the responsibility.


If it works its my fault, if it doesn’t its my fault.

I quite thrive on the challenges of your own business.

What's the best success you've had so far?

Not long after I launced PrepDress. When I say launch – a mum from school who was a copy writer worked on the press release and I made a media list and emailed every media in the country. I had some great PR in herald Sun and my local paper BUT a school mum who loved my idea, flicked my Instagram to her cousin in Sydney who thought this is great and she said send it to Mamamia. So I did.


The power of women helping women. Through the spark of my school mums support writer Keryn Donnelly published an article of this Christmas Cult Buy and it was PrepDress. I was screaming! The phone started dinging with sales and I spent a week packing all night. One night I packed unitl 5am then drank a few coffess got the kids up and took them to school and went home and kept packing.


I'll never forget the gratitude and what the ripple effect can be when one woman just simply recommends another. AMAZING!

I say if PrepDress was a song it would be “Im Every Woman’ .. not because It’s my all-time move out of the way im going straight to the dance floor HIT or because its my fav Whitney but because it is a product that’s for so many women. From teens to nineties, everyone gets ready right?

PrepDress – Every Girl, Every Woman and Every Body.



You can find Karen's products at

https://www.prepdress.com.au

instagram @prepdress

karen@predress.com.au