From a dusty paddock in the middle of Outback Queensland emerged an online swimwear range that has gone global. Having struggled to find sun-safe swimwear for her family, Julie Brown found a gap in the market and Coola Cozzies was born.
My name is Julie Brown. My business is Coola Cozzies and we have sun-safe swimwear. We’re based in Ilfracombe in Longreach.
In 2013, it started to get quite dry and I’d had an idea about sun-safe swimwear because I was looking for some for my family. The drought kind of was a huge driver in just having a go at it.
Last year I was fortunate to successfully apply for the Digital Grant in small business, which enabled me to buy a new laptop and a printer for the business. I’m also aware of the mentoring programs that are open at the moment, and I’d love to apply for one of those.
I really love the freedom of being available for my children. Being your own boss, you have the flexibility to be there for your kids and I’m really grateful for that. However, being your own boss demands the discipline, the perseverance, and I’d probably even say the courage to keep going in the business even when you feel as though you can’t. The buck starts and stops with you.
Growing up in the Australian sun, Julie and her fair-skinned family had a history of skin cancer. When her parents retired to the coastal town of Yeppoon, she thought some new sun shirts and board shorts would make the perfect Christmas presents. After searching online for nice, sun-safe swimwear for adults, Julie was surprised to find so few results in Australia – a country with one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
From their farm in outback Queensland, Julie and her husband had discussed ways to generate off-farm income. It wasn’t until a few years later that she had the idea of starting her own sun-safe swimwear business, but initial doubts prevented her from moving on her idea.
As one of Queensland’s worst droughts took its toll and killed the family’s cattle, their need for financial security grew. With 2 young children, Julie knew she needed a home-based business, so she started researching swimwear manufacturing and drafted a business plan. Through years of false starts, road blocks and self-doubt, Julie persevered, knowing her product was going to make a difference.
In 2015, Julie nervously launched the Coola Cozzies Facebook page. The day after it launched, their property lost all mobile and internet coverage for 3 weeks. Julie travelled 2 hours every day for internet access to keep in touch with her Facebook audience, manage the manufacturing process and build their website. Later that year, Julie and her family drove to Yeppoon to officially launch the Coola Cozzies website.
Despite the challenging journey, the response to Julie’s niche swimwear line has confirmed the brilliance of her idea. Now shipping all over Australia and overseas, Coola Cozzies helps people stay sun-safe and stylish, all the way from outback Queensland.