HER BIZ: Rhiannon Duke, Duke The Label

There’s no better feeling than finding an activewear brand that fits well, feels good and gets you motivated to get moving. If you’re yet to find that perfect trio, let us introduce you to Duke The Label, an Australian-born brand creating all-inclusive, functional yet flattering activewear. Made with a complex fabric blend of traditional activewear and shapewear, each and every piece is constructed to support and contour all kinds of shapes and sizes. Brand founder Rhiannon Duke isn’t your typical designer either, taking time and consideration to craft every aspect of the range, including everything from from design to colour, fabric and cut. As part of HER BLACK BOOK’s Festival of Her, a shopping event to support female-founded businesses, Duke shares some insight into her business journey so far.

“I had the idea for Duke The Label at 20 after my sister called me after having a terrible experience in a retail store where she felt ashamed for her weight after having her 2nd baby. I knew I had to do something to change this, and activewear was everything to me as I was wearing it 24/7.” 

“So many times my ideas and thoughts were met with pessimism and questioning and underlying sarcasm. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing until I had it up and running so I wouldn’t have others’ negativity affect me.”

“Starting a business sucks. Everyone does glamourise it, but sometimes it kills me. I wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks because I have to buy stock that I can’t afford at the moment with cash flow issues. After all, the economy is so badly bruised that no one is buying. I’ve had brands copy my exact designs, I’ve had brands use my trademarks, I’ve had customers have issues with the freight companies not delivering to them. My day as an owner of a business is essentially putting out fires all day every day. But, the light is when a customer reviews your product and loves them, and writes that the pieces do exactly what I intended them to do, makes you feel supported, comfortable and confident.”

“I'm so proud of my designs, I have spent so much time and shed so many tears getting them perfect.” 

“Always do right by your customer, no matter what. Even if they've done the wrong thing, I'll always be polite, helpful, and empathetic. Customers sometimes forget that you’re a real person behind the email and the Instagram page but it’s important that you never overreact or do the wrong thing out of spite.”

“A pair of Duke The Label Booty Sculpt Leggings paired with a plain white tee, a denim jacket, white sneakers, or my pink Nike dunks. My hair is honestly never washed so it’s usually in a sleek bun with white dust everywhere from using so much bloody dry shampoo.”