Women in business: Meet Pamela Jabbour of Total Image Group

Women in business: Meet Pamela Jabbour of Total Image Group

Through gruelling hard work, determination, and making 100 cold calls every day, Pamela Jabbour created her first business, Total Image Group, at the age of 21.

Tired of seeing the same unimaginative uniform polo shirts with company logos slapped on, Jabbour harnessed her love of fashion and her business-savvy mind to change the game of the uniform industry.

Here’s how she did it.

Getting the first yes after a year of 100 daily cold calls

Jabbour grew up watching her father pursue various entrepreneurial ventures and was inspired by his hard work and ingenuity. She also inherited a love of fashion and style from her mother.

By the time she graduated from university in 2005, she had a crystal-clear vision for her own business – creating uniforms that were stylish, well-fitting, and a fashion-forward extension of the business’ brand message.

“I believed – and still believe – wholeheartedly in the power of dressing, but I couldn’t see anyone who had connected that with the uniform industry,” said Jabbour.

“That was the gap in the market I wanted to fill.”

Jabbour’s exposure to her father’s work in fashion manufacturing inspired her to create a uniform brand that told a story while making the people wearing them feel confident and empowered.

She wanted the opportunity to work and collaborate with her dad and harness his expertise and support, but she was also motivated to create something of her own.

She realised that marrying fashion and style with the uniform sector was a gap she could fill. With a solid business idea, Jabbour now faced the daunting task of getting her foot in the door.

“At the very beginning, I was young and passionate, but all I had was a business plan and no customers,” said Jabbour.

To rectify this, she set herself a challenging but rewarding exercise of making 100 cold sales calls every single day.

This gruelling exercise taught her the value of being told ‘no’, the power of resilience and grit, and it also helped her build her confidence and grow her network of business contacts.

“Lots of people said no, but I was sure that if I got just one customer, then the rest would fall into place, which is exactly what happened,” she said.

Jabbour’s hard work and belief in her mission helped her turn her first customer into what would eventually become a seven-figure business.

Fighting gender stereotypes and imposter syndrome

Jabbour faced her share of barriers to making her mark in the uniform industry, which was long overdue for a shake-up and a new perspective. She grappled with a fear of not being taken seriously as a young woman starting out in a sector dominated by mostly older, more experienced men.

“The self-doubt and imposter syndrome crept in, and so for a long time, I didn’t even introduce myself as the CEO – I was the ‘sales coordinator’,” said Jabbour.

“That way, I could make the company seem bigger and more established than we really were, and if I was asked a thorny question by a potential client, I could say that I needed to consult ‘my manager’ – who was really just me.”

Eventually, Jabbour’s confidence grew, and she could engage with her clients as the CEO of her business, knowing she had the skills to achieve her goals and meet her customer’s needs.

“The doubt still reappears every now and then, but now I’m much more self-assured, and I have the support network around me to help me maintain my vision and belief in my abilities,” she said.

Women in business: Meet Pamela Jabbour of Total Image Group

Building a diverse, resilient portfolio in uncertain times

Jabbour fought for an entire year before she landed her first small order of shirts for a cinema chain (that remains a loyal customer today).

From there, she harnessed the momentum, winning a major nationwide brand with more than 30,000 staff – an achievement that allowed her to continue expanding her business.

Refusing to rest on her laurels, Jabbour had the awareness and foresight to know the value of a diverse customer portfolio to keep her business resilient and flexible.

She knew that focusing her efforts solely on one industry would leave her vulnerable if anything went wrong in that sector. Even though she was making strides in the retail and hospitality sectors, she continued working hard to break into new industries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic proved me right, and we were able to maintain momentum because as retail and hospitality crashed, healthcare and construction boomed, and we were able to pivot to meet the demands of new or expanding clients,” she said.

Total Image Group has continued to expand into new sectors, building a reputation as a company that is so much more than a uniform manufacturer. Jabbour works with her clients to create uniforms that their staff love to wear that reflect the company’s values, brand identity, and mission.

“Winning and working with clients is always a highlight, especially when they’re an exciting brand that really aligns with our values,” said Jabbour.

“Being able to showcase a range that gets them excited and that their staff love to wear is amazing.”

Total Image Group recently travelled to the Sunshine Coast to launch a uniform range for Australia’s newest airline, Bonza. The launch featured a fashion show and photoshoot in the airport hangar, complete with a Bonza plane.

Jabbour’s continued success is a tribute to her innovation and ability to create curated uniforms that capture the heart and soul of her customer’s businesses.

Jabbour has recently branched out further, creating her own fashion line, Capsule Collection Wardrobe.

“I’ve been in love with fashion and designing my own clothes for as long as I can remember, so I thought that I would take a chance and start my very own line,” she said.

Capsule Collection Wardrobe is a collection of timeless garments that Jabbour believes belong in every woman’s wardrobe. All lovingly designed by Jabbour herself, it focuses on pieces that can be worn time and time again for any occasion.

Without experiencing the setbacks, rejection, and uncertainty of the early days of Total Image Group, Capsule Collection Wardrobe may never have come to fruition.

Women in business: Meet Pamela Jabbour of Total Image Group
Women in business: Meet Pamela Jabbour of Total Image Group

Know your worth

Having fought her way to the top, Jabbour knows how hard it can be to back your business idea and stand out in an increasingly saturated market.

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: keep pushing and appreciate the opportunities that are sometimes disguised as rejection.

“Every no is an opportunity, whether for feedback, growth or even just to gain a new contact,” she said.

Jabbour encourages other women who are starting businesses to know their worth and avoid falling into the trap of people pleasing.

“When you’re still establishing yourself, going the extra mile can help you get a foot in the door, but when the demands become too much, it’s important to reassess and determine whether the effort is truly worth it,” she said.

Trying to keep or impress your most challenging clients can serve a purpose, but it’s important to know when it simply isn’t the right fit so that you can direct your efforts somewhere they will be more appreciated.

“Some of the most meaningful progress I have made is appreciating our genuine value as a business and setting boundaries that reflect that worth. It means that everyone we work with is genuinely aligned with our values, and we can create a mutually enriching partnership,” Jabbour said.

Today, Total Image Group is an award-winning, multimillion-dollar, and 100 per cent family-owned business, respected for its impact on companies and their people and culture. More than 300,000 Australians are dressed by Total Image Group every day, and it all started with 100 daily cold calls.

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon is a passionate writer, editor and community development professional. With over ten years’ experience in the disability, health and advocacy sectors, Emma is dedicated to creating work that highlights important social issues.