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Graduate certificate takes local clothing label to new heights

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While upskilling with a Graduate Certificate in Business Studies at the University of Tasmania, Penni Lamprey found herself unexpe­ctedly launching an accessible women’s clothing label amid a global pandemic.

In 2020, Penni was running her own thriving freelance Workplace Health and Wellbeing service that specialised in nutrition and mindfulness workshops and coaching, but the impacts of a pandemic that seemed so far away were soon at her doorstep.

“In February, I had a full calendar of bookings to deliver my programs to Hobart workplaces,” Penni said. “I'd been slowly and steadily growing for the last 3 years and felt I was living my best life.

“Come March, and all my future bookings were postponed or cancelled. I found myself completely unemployed and now home-schooling three primary-aged children. It was the scariest and loneliest 6 months of my life.”

From these challenges came an opportunity in the form of a fee-waived Graduate Certificate in Business Studies offered by the University of Tasmania to help workers upskill during the COVID-19 downturn.

While Penni planned to complete her studies as fast as possible and re-enter the workforce, there were other forces at work. She was about to start her own line of accessible women’s clothing.

“During my studies, Long Tall Sally, the world's largest tall women's clothing retailer announced they were set to close due to the impacts of COVID. As I stand over 6 feet tall, they were the primary source of clothing for myself and other tall women around the world.

“It is estimated that 2% of the world's women are over 5'10, so not only was there a personal need, but it was also an exceptional business opportunity. My clothing label Miss G & Me was born.”

Penni in her North Hobart showroom

While women’s clothing has become more accessible in recent years, for people like Penni, it is an ongoing struggle to find retailers that stock well-designed and fashionable clothes that fit a taller frame.

With the decision made to start her clothing label, Penni was now faced with the challenge of juggling the launch of her new business and completing her studies.

“I was launching a new business and incredibly worried about my future while looking after my children and trying to study at the same time. Everything felt just a bit more difficult; even figuring out how to log into MyLO and search for library books online was a challenge.

“At the time, all classes were being delivered via distance, and thankfully my tutors were amazing in their online workshops, as were the librarians answering my 'SOS' calls.”

Through the support of her tutors and the occasional lifesaving librarian, Penni was able to launch her business in early 2021 and continue her studies, with her Graduate Certificate forming an essential foundation for her new label.

“The Grad Cert has allowed me to start as I mean to go on. The label has firm financial goals, a live marketing plan, sustainability goals and I have a sound understanding of what I need to do to be profitable.”

Since the launch of Miss G & Me, Penni has sold hundreds of pieces all over Australia, Europe, Canada, the United States and New Zealand and shows no signs of stopping as she works to change the lives of women around the world.

“This label is so much more than just selling clothes, it’s about representation and self-care,” Penni said. “It’s a big call to say a pair of pants or a shirt can change your life, but they really do. Every aspect of your sense of self improves when you’re properly, and dare I say it, beautifully dressed.”

Read more about Penni's story on the Miss G & Me website.