Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
SARA

SARA FOX Co-Owners, Sara and Brie, On Mixing Friendship With Business

Sara Fox Smith and Brie Langley are the duo behind the luxury fashion and lifestyle brand SARA FOX. We chatted with Sara and Brie about their personal and professional synergies, including a shared experience with infertility and how they turned their 15-year friendship into a business partnership.

Sara Fox Smith and Brie Langley have been friends for over 15 years. They both grew up in Perth but experienced very different upbringings and family dynamics.

“I describe my childhood as wonderful as I was loved, educated and grew up understanding there is no limit to possibilities…albeit the chaos,” Brie tells THE INARRA. “My dad got very sick when I was about eight, which led to a very drawn-out and complex family dynamic for the next 30 years.

“This has ultimately shaped my personal values (probably to the extreme!): loyalty, resilience and kindness and a need to provide security and stability in life for my family and friends,” she says.

Unlike Brie, Sara was born in Toronto, Canada to an Australian mother and a French-Canadian father. In the late 80s, the three of them moved to Western Australia to be closer to her mother’s side of the family.

“I only remember a beautiful childhood but both my parents were always working hard, long hours, five to seven days a week to give me the best education and opportunities they could,” says Sara.

“After a somewhat seamless childhood, our world fell apart when Dad passed away when I was 21. Now, only two of us, my mother, who is an incredibly intelligent, resilient woman and I navigated through our new normal.”

Sara attributes her love of fashion to her parents – “both innately stylish and instilled a love of high-quality, European-style fashion in me from a very young age.” While completing her degree in Marketing and PR, she managed a retail store in Perth and had her own personal styling and shopping clients. In 2012, she started her own business.

“I started my brand SARA FOX in 2012 as essential wardrobe pieces,” says Sara. “Quality, material, cut and timelessness were always at its core.”

In 2013, Sara opened her first store SARA FOX & Co, which stocked a mix of SARA FOX pieces and other Australian and international brands. 

“Our in-house brand sold extremely well for us and I have always wanted to give it more love and focus, but it was hard to find the hours to do so while running a retail store or two and having a young family,” she says.

“I heard a saying the other day that you can spend your whole life climbing the ladder and when you get to the top of the ladder you may find it is propped against the wrong wall — this really resonates with me now.”
Sara Fox
Sara Fox

Meanwhile, Brie was working in a high-powered finance role. “I spent the last 23 years working in finance. I worked over 70-hour weeks and travelled a lot and I loved it,” recalls Brie. “I thrived on the pressure and challenge and prided myself on being able to keep all the balls in the air.”

However, things changed for Brie when she fell pregnant. “I had a terrible pregnancy and it basically set in motion a series of events that led to complete and utter burn-out,” she says. “One day I woke up and thought I just don’t want this anymore.

“I heard a saying the other day that you can spend your whole life climbing the ladder and when you get to the top of the ladder you may find it is propped against the wrong wall — this really resonates with me now.”

It was at this time that good friends Sara and Brie found themselves at a professional intersection: Sara was looking to evolve SARA FOX and Brie was looking to do something new.

“Brie and I have been friends for over 15 years and she has always been by my side during the business and supported behind the scenes while she focused on her finance career,” says Sara. 

“She was always our number one customer and would come on buying trips and fashion weeks with me. When I started to think about how I would transition out of the store and focus on the brand, we discussed that maybe she would be more involved from an investment and strategy perspective.

“Like fate, we both made decisions independently and it felt like a natural progression to go all-in and continue to evolve the brand together,” says Sara

The SARA FOX brand was relaunched as a direct-to-consumer and wholesale brand in September 2023. 

“When Sara and I decided to go into business together, everyone around us agreed it was a good partnership,” says Brie. “Our mothers, who are our biggest supporters – but not shy on giving ‘feedback’ – were the ones that really gave us that last push to make it a reality.

“I have heard and seen many horror stories of relationships that go up in smoke when people go into business together and it is something we are very conscious of and we work on our business relationship constantly,” she says. “I have personally worn the brand for over a decade and it is my absolute go-to, so I feel a strong sense of credibility in being part of the business.”

“Selling the retail presence and exiting corporate were the right things for us to do respectively, but after them being a huge part of our identities it was bittersweet at the end,” says Sara.

Sara Fox
Sara Fox
Sara Fox
Sara Fox

Impressively, Sara and Brie built SARA FOX into what it is today whilst raising young families, but both experienced challenging journeys to motherhood, each turning to IVF.

“I always thought being able to have a family was a fait accompli,” says Brie. “I followed a fairly traditional path of school, uni, travel, work, marriage…and if I’m really honest, I put off starting a family as I had a singular focus on my career and climbing the corporate ladder.”

When Brie and her husband decided to have children, she didn’t anticipate how long and painful the road to motherhood was going to be.

“It took over five years to conceive our little boy,” she says. “We did all the things: fertility tracking, blood tracking, IUI, and then seven full rounds of IVF with either zero or one embryo each time and lots of disappointments in between.

“We had been to Europe for a holiday and were told when we got back we could do one last round of IVF and that was it. My body did not react well to all the hormones and I was really unwell. We were incredibly lucky as in the last round we got three embryos, one of which is our darling little Ziggy who is four now.

“He is the best thing that has ever happened in my life and the last four years have completely reshaped my life and aspirations.”

Like Brie, Sara knew she wanted to be a mother, but she too was focused on her career. “I never rushed the thought as, like many, I thought I had ‘plenty of time’,” she says. “I opened my first store in early 2013 at 29 years old and focussed on that solely for the next couple of years.”

When she and her husband decided to start trying for a baby, it didn’t happen like they’d hoped. After two years of trying, they tried IVF. 

“We were incredibly lucky to have it work on our first round and Sonny was born in 2017,” says Sara. “We also have our darling Beau who just turned two. I can’t hide it, I am a doting ‘Boy Mum’!”

When it comes to balancing work and motherhood, Brie and Sara admit it’s not always easy.

“I am lucky enough to have flexibility, as does my husband,” says Brie. “Ziggy is in care four days a week, but those early finishes at 3:30pm catch you!

“It’s a constant juggle, but my absolute goal at the moment is to be present when I am with Ziggy. It is so easy to get distracted and I am really working on putting the phone down!”

“It’s always a juggle as you can’t always predict what will happen on any given day,” says Sara. “However, trying to map out a weekly plan and know what needs to be achieved is where I try to start.

“When I am with my boys I try to stay focused on them and not continue to work, but it’s always easier said than done.”

“It comes down to what we value at this time in our lives,” says Brie. “Having time with family and having weekends to spend with them, and ultimately simplifying things work-wise so we can slow down and be more present.

“It’s been such a pleasant change for us to both be able to focus on one thing and be more present and available for our boys,” says Brie. 

Since becoming mothers, Brie and Sara’s approach to motherhood has also changed.

“Health and wellbeing is one of my top focuses now,” says Brie. “Over two decades in a hyper-intense and immensely competitive finance industry burnt me out more than I ever realised.

“For me, exercise is paramount for my mental health,” she says. “I prioritise daily Pilates or a PT session and focus on being as mobile as I can. It’s a non-negotiable for me. I also have a weekly goals list to try and keep me focused on what’s important.”

Sara Fox
Sara Fox

Sara and her family also prioritise health and wellness. “After becoming a mother you realise it’s up to you (and your village) to bring up your children and you want to be as healthy as possible to do so.

“I do regular reformer Pilates and have for many years, regular cardio and have started breath work,” Sara says. “After many years of burning the candle at both ends work-wise, the decision to simplify things has had a positive impact on both my mental and physical health.”

Brie and Sara’s success with SARA FOX means they’re well-placed to offer advice to other mothers considering starting a business.

“Focus on your numbers,” says Brie. “Cash flow is everything. Sara started this business on her own and there was no safety net, so she has always understood the focus on managing the day-to-day. When we came together, we restructured the business to support the future strategy while also focusing on a 12-month cash flow, which we manage daily and meet on weekly.

“It sounds counterintuitive but you need to spend money to make money,” Brie says. “You can’t keep marketing to the same audience with a primarily online business, so taking on smaller wholesale accounts that align with your vision, collaborating with other brands and producer offerings and influencer/ambassador marketing is the only way to get your brand out there and create cut-through in a saturated market.

“We believe it’s also imperative to stay true to your vision and brand’s ethos. Don’t try and do it all – focus on what you do and are about and do that.

“We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback on this collection which is reflected in our audience growth and sales. We have focussed on failing fast and making decisions quickly when things aren’t working to make sure we are not spinning our wheels and wasting resources.”

Working in fashion for over 20 years, Sara has her personal style down to a tee. “I’ve always had a laid-back personality, which I feel is reflected in my style,” she says. “I like classic, key pieces I can wear over and over. My style is relaxed, slightly undone and I like to wear natural fibres.”

Sara’s style hasn’t changed too much since becoming a mother, but now “comfort is key.”

Brie, on the other hand, admits her personal style has evolved significantly over the years. “It’s a running joke that my style is basically what Sara wore a year ago! I’m quite stubborn and I know what suits me and try to steer clear of anything too trendy.

“Fashion is one of my biggest passions and I try to invest in good quality, timeless pieces that I can interject with some more seasonal trends,” Brie says. “I’m still wearing pieces of the original SARA FOX collections from a decade ago, which demonstrates how quality styles and fabrication stand the test of time.”

Since becoming a mother and working from home, Brie spends a lot of time (“too much time”) in activewear. 

“I live in Surry Hills so I pretty much walk everywhere. A good quality bag and some great sandals and sneakers can elevate any outfit and you will see me every day wearing something from our collection. We both road-test all the pieces and are constantly tweaking things based on wearability for a broad audience.”

As fashion lovers, Sara and Brie have shopping wishlists. On Brie’s are Saint Laurent Dive Sandals, Loewe cat-eye acetate sunglasses, and the Merci Maison Scalloped Umbrella (“We’re in the middle of a backyard renovation!”).

On Sara’s wishlist is a blazer from Acne, Chanel flip flops, and the Loewe basket tote bag.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, Sara and Brie have some big goals. “We have made a significant investment and focus to grow the brand,” they say. “Our Core Collection, Sara Fox Sports (UNISEX), High Summer and Resort 25 launch in 2024 which we will be selling both in Australia and internationally.

“We look forward to taking you on the journey at sarafox.com.au!”

SARA FOX have also kindly offered THE INARRA readers 20% off their entire collection. Use ‘INARRA20’ at checkout.

Words by Ellie Wiseman

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