Brigitte MacGowan and Desley Maidment launched their business, State of Escape, with a bang in 2013, designing a super-practical yet ultra-stylish neoprene tote bag. The tote became an instant sensation, capturing the attention of shoppers and fashion editors alike, with sales growing 300 per cent in the first two years.
Today, the now-trademarked Escape bag sells in the tens of thousands every year in more than 20 countries, according to Maidment, State of Escape’s CEO. Every style in its range (which now extends to crossbody bags, overnighter totes and designer collaborations) is still made in the founders’ hometown of Sydney. “It was important for us to produce the bags here because having an Australian-made product really underscores our ethos,” says Maidment.
MacGowan, the brand’s creative director, is currently based in New York and Maidment in Singapore however the pair travel together for work “all the time”. They return to the head office in Sydney, where they have 12 full-time staff, and circle the globe to meet retailers and immerse themselves in local markets. “We longed to have a business that gave us opportunities to explore the world through our careers,” says MacGowan. “We tell our husbands, ‘Sorry, we have to go!’” adds Maidment. Here, they explain how travel has been instrumental in bagging global success.
“We’ve had many trips to Japan, where they are very particular about quality and simple, impeccable design,” says MacGowan. “We’ve been fortunate that our products resonated there. We met our Japanese distributor on our first trip and they were incredible hosts. We love food so Desley and I were in our element! We went into the stores and met all the sales staff to give them training so they could understand our philosophy and speak to customers about our brand. They really love that personal connection and I know it’s part of our success. In the early years, Business fares could be a bit of a stretch. We accumulated Qantas Points, for our business and for our Frequent Flyers, so we could put in for upgrades, which we were lucky enough to get quite often. These days, we still look for savings when we book through Qantas Business Rewards.”
Tip: Always add your ABN and the traveller's Frequent Flyer number when booking flights for work. That way, both the business and the traveller earn Qantas Points.*
“State of Escape was three years old when the Australian Fashion Council invited us to be part of the Australian Designers Abroad program in New York,” recalls MacGowan. “It was a great introduction to new opportunities and we ended up signing exclusively with Neiman Marcus. Our South American distributor discovered us there and now we’re in six countries on that continent. In 2018, I relocated to New York to help build the business. Others have told us that to understand the nuances of the US market, you have to be physically present, though Sydney is still home. I love that I can take off from JFK on the weekend and get to work in Sydney by 11am Monday. I’m a Platinum Frequent Flyer now and I love the International First Lounge during layovers at LAX – I know the host at the front desk, the menu, the route to the gate. I have a shower, a meal, get back on the plane and sleep all the way to Australia.”
Tip: Enjoy an extensive network with Qantas and our partners to get you and your travellers wherever you need to be with over 1,300 destinations worldwide.
“Brigitte and I recently met in London to do some forward planning and then I flew to Sydney to brief all the team,” says Maidment. “We love travelling together and seeing our bags ‘in the wild’, worn by women all around the world. We travel to better understand their lives. It’s just as important for me to come home to Sydney regularly and connect in person with our team. I manage the business side of State of Escape, so I’m conscious of how we’re tracking against budget and the trips we need to make to grow our market. Qantas Business Rewards is a great centralised hub that helps me keep tabs on expenditure, tap into flight savings and build our points for future trips and upgrades. It’s a super-easy interface for me and our finance manager to reconcile expenses, too.”
As a Qantas Business Rewards member, the more points your business earns from flying, the faster you’ll progress through the three levels, unlocking more rewards and savings.*
Fly more, save more
By moving up the three levels of the Qantas Business Rewards program, members enjoy up to 10% off selected flights, to over 1,300 international destinations with Qantas, oneworld and partner airlines.~
More Qantas Points
Earn points twice on every business travel flight – once for the business and once for the traveller. Our loyalty programs work together so your business* and travellers# can earn points for the same trip.
Relax, work or meet before your flight
As a member, you and your travellers can enjoy up to 30% off Qantas Club membership fees^. Enjoy access to international, domestic, associated and partner lounges – the ultimate pre-flight experience when travelling.
Discover how other Australian businesses are benefiting from face-to-face meetings and uncover more ways to save with Qantas Business Rewards.
± Qantas Points earned on air travel are determined in accordance with the Airline Earn Table. A Member's ABN and traveller's Qantas Frequent Flyer membership number must be quoted at the time of booking to earn Qantas Points for both the business and the traveller. An eligible flight means a domestic or international flight which has a Qantas 'QF' flight number on the ticket that is purchased in Australia; has a ticket number commencing with '081'; and is booked and travelled for business on or after the date the business registers for Qantas Business Rewards. Exclusions apply. The number of points awarded varies according to the business’ flying Level. Subject to the Qantas Business Rewards Airline Reward Scheme Terms and Conditions, Qantas Points are earned for each segment travelled on Eligible Flights by a Qantas Business Rewards Flyer. A segment is a portion of the journey between two consecutive points listed on an itinerary. The number of Qantas Points earned in Qantas Business Rewards is calculated by applying the percentage Earn Rate to the number of Qantas Points earned by a Bronze Qantas Frequent Flyer member in each respective booking class (including cabin bonus and Minimum Points Guarantee if applicable and excluding any bonus Qantas Points which may be offered from time to time) as specified in the Qantas Frequent Flyer Categories in the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program, for the applicable travel date. A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member and registered for GST or be an Australian Public or Private entity or other incorporated company, and not be a travel agent or on a Corporate Deal with Qantas to earn Qantas Points for the business from flying.
# You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions. Qantas Points and Status Credits (where applicable) are earned on eligible flights with a Qantas or applicable oneworld® Alliance Airline or Airline Partner flight number on your ticket. Qantas Points and Status Credits may not be earned on some fare types and booking classes. See terms and conditions and the Airline Earning Tables for details on the conditions for the applicable airline.
~ Savings are available exclusively to Qantas Business Rewards Members on the base fare of selected fares only and do not apply to taxes, fees and carrier charges. Availability is limited. Member Deals are subject to the Qantas Business Rewards Terms and Conditions.
^ Discounted Qantas Club membership is available to Qantas Frequent Flyer members who are Qantas Business Rewards Flyers of the Qantas Business Rewards Member. The discount applies to Qantas Club Individual membership rates and is managed under the Qantas Club Qantas Business Rewards scheme. Qantas Club membership is subject to the Qantas Club Terms and Conditions. Please be advised that lounges are subject to capacity limits at the time of your visit. If you're flying domestically on Qantas, QantasLink or Jetstar within Australia, and on Jetstar within New Zealand you may bring one guest to join you in a Qantas Club lounge. When visiting an international Qantas Club lounge, you are able to invite one guest each time you visit. Both you and your guest need to be travelling together further that day on the same flight. Lounge access eligibility conditions apply.
§ Only one nomination for the Qantas Business Rewards Gold Accelerator offer can be made per year by an eligible Qantas Business Rewards Level 3 Member. The Qantas Business Rewards account holder or full access user must complete a nomination form through the Qantas Business Rewards portal. The nominee must hold Bronze or Silver Qantas Frequent Flyer membership, and be a stored traveller within the Qantas Business Rewards account. Once approved, the nominee’s Qantas Frequent Flyer status will be upgraded to Gold, when they earn at least 200 Status Credits on new bookings for departures between the date the offer is accepted and within 90 days. Status Credit earn must be on eligible flights booked and ticketed on a Qantas flight number (QF) where status credits are usually earned. Bonus Status Credit earn and Status Credits earned not via way of an eligible flight will not contribute towards required accelerator total to redeem this offer. Status Credits will be awarded within 6 weeks from departure. Members who have already been activated on previous Qantas Status Fast Track offers in the last 6 months, are not eligible for the Qantas Business Rewards Gold Accelerator offer. Gold Accelerator is only available to members with an Australian or New Zealand residential address on their Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Qantas may revoke or vary this offer in its own discretion.
† Triple Qantas Points on flights for your business: A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member to earn triple Qantas Points for business. The triple Qantas Points for business are only available for American Express Qantas Card Members when the Card is used to make an eligible Qantas flight booking. Qantas will allocate to the business an amount equal to the Qantas Points earned by the traveller when travelling for business against a rate of either: 20% (Level 1); or 30% (Level 2); or 40% (Level 3) multiplied by three. For details, see qantas.com/businesspassport.
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