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Mother knows best

A SUBTLE form of mothering has gone a long way towards the success of an Osborne Park-based clothing business.

While Julie Carter, owner and operator of work clothing manufacturer Westline, said most men would not admit it, many liked to be fussed over when they purchased clothing.

“It makes it easier for them if you go out and organise it for them. You know how women have to go and organise men,” she said, tongue in cheek.

“But you don’t let the guys know that.

“You’ve got to play mother to them. The guys really like attention. A lot of guys just come here and want to chat.”

Ms Carter said her role often included teaching men how to look good and comfortable, as well as how to feel good about their appearance.

“When you see all these guys walking around with their clothes falling apart you get this motherly instinct,” she said.

“It’s like re-educating people. I couldn’t stand it if I was bending down all day and the back of my pants keeps creeping down.

“We are going to put a sign out saying we can fix ‘builders’ crack’.”

Westline, which has been operating for the past 34 years, traditionally has catered to the farming community. More recently, mining companies and the building industry have been targeted.

The firm also takes orders from around the world on its website.

Ms Carter said demand this year from the agricultural sector had dropped off as a result of the poor season last year, but orders from the mining and building sectors had remained strong.

While the majority of her orders come from Australia and New Zealand, Ms Carter also receives orders from South-East Asia, Ireland, Canada and the Falkland Islands.

Next year, Ms Carter hopes to begin a mobile service, which would allow workers to get measured for size, get clothes mended and order new clothes without needing to leave their workplace.

While always seeking new opportunities, Ms Carter is reluctant to sell her clothing through department stores, because the personal touch would be lost and it would require a completely different way of running the business.

Besides, she says, she enjoys listening to people’s life stories too much.

Like most small businesses owners, Ms Carter finds the most frustrating thing is the paperwork, which demands an increasing amount of time, particularly with the GST, workers’ compensation and other legislative requirements.

“What I want to be able to do is spend more time making clothes, that is what I’m good at. But it gets increasingly difficult,” Ms Carter said.

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