AIB Featured Business Leader – Peter Alexander
Peter Alexander is a true entrepreneur. Founder of Peter Alexander Sleepwear, Peter grew the business from a single man operation on his Mum’s dining room table to an internationally recognised brand name. Dubbed Australia’s ‘Pyjama King’ by the Australian media, the Peter Alexander brand now boasts 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand selling fashionable pyjamas, daywear and giftware. The brand is worn and praised by celebrities around the world, including Kylie Minogue, Nicole Richie and Lady Gaga. But what’s most interesting about his journey to entrepreneurial success is how it all started. Like many, he saw a gap in the market, and despite setbacks, has continued to achieve significant milestones.
In the early days, Peter struggled at school with learning disabilities, and at High School, he was voted “least likely to succeed”. In fact, his teachers suggested he leave school to pursue a TAFE course instead, but with determination and the help of one special teacher, Peter was able to successfully complete Year 12. This gave him the confidence to believe in himself and trust his own abilities and decisions – a trait which is essential for longevity in business. Peter chose not to go to university rather, beginning his career in the retail industry on the shop floor at Sportsgirl.
The start of the Peter Alexander brand
After hearing his female friends complain about the lack of comfortable and fashionable sleepwear, Peter decided to take matters into his own hands and start his own business. In 1989 at the young age of 24, he established the label under his own name, and set to work on his mum’s dining room table with a $3000 loan from his dad. During this time, numerous people tried to discourage Peter as he had no business experience or formal training in fashion, but this just motivated him to prove them wrong.
Initially, Peter sold his pyjamas wholesale to department stores, however, after a large order was cancelled, he took matters into his own hands and turned the setback into an opportunity. He took a gamble and put an advertisement for mail order pyjamas in Cleo Magazine, receiving a huge 6000 orders from the one ad! This was the beginning of the Peter Alexander catalogue business. Following the success of mail order, in 1995 Peter launched his online store and in 2000 joined retail giant, The Just Group, remaining Creative Director of the brand.
In 2004, Peter Alexander opened his first standalone store in Melbourne Central, closely followed by Chadstone. Today, the brand boasts 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand, generating sales in excess of $160 million last financial year. The brand continues to develop new and exciting collections and products every season.
Aside from Peter’s success with his sleepwear brand, Peter is also an avid supporter and lover of animals, and has been awarded the status of RSPCA ambassador. Each year, Peter creates a new product to sell in his stores, donating 100% of the proceeds to the RSPCA in Australia and the Paw Justice in New Zealand.
What do you think?
Today, Peter Alexander remains heavily involved in the brand as Creative Director. He’s built an incredibly successful business, with the belief that in setting high goals, people have a far higher chance of achieving them than people with lower aspirations or no goals at all. I am keen to hear what you think though – what do you admire most about Peter’s success?
We’re thrilled to announce that Peter Alexander will be our special guest speaker at the 2016 AIB Graduation Ceremony on November 11.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Celebrity Speakers, Wikipedia, Famous Fashion Designers