Meet The Mother Reinventing The Modern Uniform (And Dressing Gwyneth Paltrow)



"Never sit still, do it first and do it well" is the line towed by Cargo Crew founder Felicity Rodgers, who, alongside her husband Paul and sister Narelle Craig, runs the bespoke uniform business which she launched back in 2012...

Cargo Crew boasts a covetable collection of aprons, uniform shirts, pants and knits all tailored to a businesses visual identity. Her approach to style? Uncomplicated and cool, so it’s no wonder that she’s managed to enhance the design of an industry otherwise prone to conventionality and blandness, whilst at the same time maintaining its functional purpose. Having worked with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, preparing a unique set of apron designs for the launch of her skincare line Goop, Rodger’s shows no sign of slowing down. With ambitious plans ahead for 2016, including expansion to the United States we couldn’t help but wonder how Rodgers, mother of two, manages to fit it all in. “Time management is one of the challenges of a busy life. I simply do my best to get through the highest priorities of many priorities each day,” she says. We had the pleasure of catching up with the inspiring Rodgers in her Melbourne home to talk about balance and her growing business.

Photography: Nikole Ramsay


When I wake up I...

I check my phone for communication we have received overnight from international clients and suppliers.


Before I go to bed...

I do a digital detox by reading a book or magazine that doesn’t require a screen. I also often write a list of what I need to focus on the following day so I can go to sleep with a calm mind.


Life as a mother of two is...

Ridiculously busy, never boring, full of love, laughter, tears, challenges and huge rewards!


My sisters are...

A huge part of my life. My younger sister Narelle joined me in the business six years after I founded it following a stint overseas living in London. We are very similar in lots of ways with how our creative minds work, yet we are different enough to focus on our strengths in the business. Her background in advertising brought an agency style offering to Cargo Crew in how we service our clients. My older sister Sally is in the corporate world and has vast experience in people and work place culture. She has been a constant sounding board for us around building the culture we have today with our people and always brings a fresh perspective to the table.


My approach to style is...

Uncomplicated. For me it’s about mixing basic style and comfort with favourite accessories to complete a look.


I treat myself by...

Girls shopping days or heading out for dinner and a concert. Music plays many roles in my life – it relaxes me, motivates me and inspires my creative process.


The biggest misconception about me...

Is I must have been brave to have started a business so young. The truth is if I had any idea of where we would be today, I’m sure I would have found it extremely daunting. A good mix of youth and naivety set me on my way and I have developed bravery and resilience through the challenges of building a business.

 


My role model is...

My husband Paul! We have been together since we were in our early 20’s and his work ethic and determination has always been impressive. He has a great technical mind and if he doesn’t know how to do something he will put his mind to learning how to. Besides running the day-to-day operations of our business including overseeing finance and IT he has been an integral part in our recent website upgrade which has seen us adding international checkout to our offering. Besides all of this, he can then often be seen jumping hands on into the latest office build, upgrade or other crazy project that we have going on.


My definition of success is...

Achieving balance and ultimately being able to make your own choices in life.


The idea for Cargo Crew...

Came when I had a young designer label following my graduation from RMIT Fashion Design. While producing the label with a girlfriend we were often approached by businesses to custom design a contemporary uniform and I enjoyed the process of working to a brief and meeting the clients requirements while delivering a fashionable look. We closed the label in 2002 and I began Cargo Crew solo. Over the years we have evolved Cargo Crew from producing custom made – bespoke uniforms and merchandise to creating our own range of uniforms that can be purchased easily from us with no minimum orders. The offering we have worked hard to create is a design led, high quality range that is both affordable and convenient for businesses around the world to procure.


The most exciting project we've worked on was...

We think all of our clients are unique and exciting in their own way however if I had to choose one it would have to be… being handpicked by Gwyneth Paltrow to dress her and a selection of beauty influencers from New York in one of our signature aprons for the launch of her new Goop skincare line. We had initially been found by Goop’s agency to dress their staff at the Goop pop up market held in New York before Christmas. Gwyneth loved our product so much she requested we be part of the launch event in March which was beyond amazing and exciting.


The most challenging part of running your own business is...

Needing to be a specialist in so many areas. We are lucky in the sense that we are a family business and between my husband Paul who runs operations and my sister Narelle who focuses on client management and marketing we have a variety of skills and strengths that have allowed us to achieve our success to date. The team we have built have also been an integral part of our story and we are proud to have a team who are focused on achieving a shared vision.

 


If I wasn't doing what I'm doing today...

I would be in a creative position of some sort. I am always thinking of new ideas. It’s the way my mind is wired, so I’m sure I would put that to some good use.


My mother taught me...

To be a good person, never judge a book by its cover and to believe you can achieve anything you put your mind to.


I love living in Melbourne because...

For me there is a genuine feeling of family and home, the creative vibe of living northside suits our lifestyle and we are spoilt for choice with eating destinations.


Happiness is...

Being happy and content where you are right now, it involves being mindful and is certainly contagious.


My time management secrets are...

A work in progress! One of my best friends recently told me that I needed to improve them so we could hang out a bit more. Time management is one of the challenges of a busy life. I simply do my best to get through the highest priorities of many priorities each day.

 


In my wardrobe you'll find...

A large selection of jeans, staples from Scanlan Theodore, highlights of designer favorites by Victoria Beckham, Isabel Marant and Rag & Bone and my Cargo Crew workwear essentials including our shirts, tees and knits.


Today I'm wearing...

Our divine Otto Edit Apron we produced in collaboration with Jardan. We were approached by Jardan last year to produce an apron to sell in their flagship stores around Australia. While we are both in completely different industries we share a common appreciation for original Australian design and high quality products that compliment the environment they are created for.


The last meal I ate was...

A simple zucchini slice with salad, made by my amazing mum – Wendy. She often helps me out during the week making surprise dinners when she knows I have run out of steam or don’t have something planned… she’s like a magical fairy.


My style essentials are...

Good jeans and shoes, complimented by simple accessories that add that individual touch.


My children have taught me...

The value of time. I would never have imagined how busy a working parent’s life could be. It’s important to me to be a hands on parent and be involved with as many of their activities as I can, and to achieve this I need to prioritise my day-to-day schedule. They have also taught me to trust my instincts and make decisions on what I know is right for our family as you know as a parent decisions you make have flow on impact to your children.


I relax by...

Walking to the park with my children and Scout our dog, simple pleasures are always the best way to unwind and we are lucky to have beautiful walking tracks through the local parks at our doorstep.

 


I get stressed when...

I feel out of control with the amount of tasks I need to focus on both at home and work. When I feel I’m only skimming the surface and not giving 100% to something.


My next travel destination is...

Back to the US. We have some great business opportunities happening there at present and focusing on the US market is part of our growth strategy.


Our plans for 2016 are...

Huge! We have so many exciting projects underway that are extremely ambitious, however that’s the way we roll at Cargo Crew – Never sit still, do it first and do it well!


After I finish writing this I'm going to...

Pack to head down to the beach with the family and friends for the night, balancing some leisure time is tricky but always worth the effort. I’m conscious that the kids are growing up fast so it’s important we make the time for fun and adventures.


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