Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input


08:00am June 11 2024

Shiv Rennie, founder of sustainable fashion start-up The One Six. (Supplied)

As a working mum, Shiv Rennie knows it can be a challenge to choose the right outfit in the morning while juggling all the other responsibilities that come with parenting. 

Her start-up business The One Six aims to ease that pain point by creating a range of beautifully crafted clothes that can be work-ready wardrobe staples for busy mums.  

“The idea for The One Six came from the fact that apparently it takes every woman 16 minutes to get ready in the morning - although some might say it’s more like 60,” Rennie tells Westpac Wire in an interview. 

“I wanted to simplify my day-to-day and saw a gap in the market for finely crafted, more conscious and elevated wardrobe staples. I got sick of buying things that would cost $300 or $400 and they wouldn’t be well made at all.”

Just as important to Rennie is that her operation is sustainable. She wants to make clothes that women can return to again and again, providing an alternative to overseas manufactured products which use cheap labour to keep their costs down but can be of inferior quality.   

“I believe the ideal wardrobe is about quality over quantity - garments you adore, that are well made, and that you wear for years to come,” says Rennie, who hand picks all her materials herself, including the use of “designer dead-stock” – materials she’s rescued from landfill. All of her clothing range is made in Australia. 

Model wears black blazer by The One Six. (Supplied)

Rennie has also built a successful career in marketing and communications, a skill-set which has stood her in good stead in the image-conscious fashion industry.

Since starting the business 18 months ago, Rennie says an important early breakthrough was to get picked up by a wholesale agent, which allowed her to place her garments in boutiques and store networks around Australia and overseas.     

“That came with a lot of pressure to be producing more and more, however it’s also important I stay laser-focused on the brand’s values, sustainability and minimal approach,” she adds. The One Six is still largely a one-person operation, which Rennie runs alongside her communications career, although her priority in 2024 is to bring someone in to help her.

“It's a lot of late nights and early mornings, so it will be great to take that next step and have someone helping.” She also has plans to open a retail store. 

Path to profit

The One Six is already generating solid revenues, although Rennie is currently re-investing all of that back into the business. That’s normal for early-stage start-ups.

A recent Westpac-commissioned survey of more than 500 small and medium-sized enterprises showed that on average it takes them 2.3 years to turn a profit after starting up. 

Meanwhile, over a quarter of SMEs whose businesses are at least one year old reported that cashflow was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome in the first two years of establishing the business. Other major challenges include overwork, long hours, and understanding red tape and regulation. 

“One of the key challenges of starting a business is uncertainty about whether it will generate a return,” says Shane Howell, Westpac General Manager, Commercial Banking.

“Making sure you have the right people around you to provide sound input and guidance can really help increase your level of success. This might include an experienced small business banker, accountant and a coach or mentor."

“Westpac is helping Australians to start and grow businesses by making it less complicated to access finance and encouraging entrepreneurship, including for women who are under-represented in this space,” Howell says. 

Staying the course

Rennie plans to be turning a profit by 2025 but is wary of making bold predictions for the business given the headwinds facing the economy from higher interest rates and inflation. Keeping a tight rein on costs will be key, she adds. 

She refuses to compromise on the quality and sustainability of her garments but acknowledges that necessitates pitching them at a higher price point. 

“Trying to be a voice that’s telling people to consume consciously, to consume less but purchase high quality when they do - trying to cut through on that is tricky with how ingrained fast fashion and overconsumption is, but it’s a long game.” 

Model wears ivory satin shirt by The One Six. (Supplied)

Rennie admits to having moments of self-doubt. As a newcomer to the fashion industry, it has been a challenge to forge connections to help her progress. The amount of admin that goes into fulfilling an order can also feel overwhelming. 

“There have been points along the way where I’ve felt like it’s just too hard, and it feels like I’m always teetering on the brink. But then something positive happens – so you’ve just got to stay the course. It takes patience and perseverance and staying positive.

“I’m driven by the fact that I want to do things differently. I want to prove that fashion can be sustainable and ethical and still be a viable business.”

James Thornhill was appointed as editor of Westpac Wire in May 2022. Prior to joining the bank, he was a business and financial journalist with more than two decades of experience with international newswires. Most recently, he was a resources correspondent for Bloomberg, covering the mining and energy sectors, and previously reported on a broad range of topics from economics and politics to currency and bond markets. Originally from the UK, he’s had stints working in London, New York and Singapore, but is now happily settled in Sydney.

Browse topics