How would you describe your business in a sentence?
Very bright, fun, quirky, kitsch, handmade with a touch of 1950s
What background or study experience led you to start the business?
I started in Fine arts both at TAFE and University majoring as a photographer in 2001. When digital came along I went and Study clothing production, which included pattern making and learning how to sew on an industrial scale. Finishing that I started a clothing range inspired by 1950s aprons. I ran away and backpacked Europe, returning to Australia inspired to design and manufacture travel accessories in fun and funky fabrics. I took the business to Melbourne but was too homesick to remain, and returned to my hometown of Newcastle, where I have had my bricks and mortar store for nearly 8.5 years
What plans do you have for your business for the near future?
I am going to work hard to change people’s perceptions of Newcastle. My shop backs onto a working Harbour, we have the most amazing beaches, great food, and coffee, Port Stephens, The Vineyards, and Barrington Tops National Park is just a stone throw away and a town full of amazing artists and designers. We are no longer the Industrial coal mining town we were once known for.
What online channels do you use to sell products, and which is most significant to sales?
I bombard Instagram and Facebook all day. It is the perfect way to advertise. Quick, simple, and very effective. If bolts of fabric arrived from Japan in the shop I can have it online and in people’s feed within a few minutes. Normally within the hour, I have a customer enter the shop looking for it or the phone starts ringing. Ideally, both Instagram and Facebook are a perfect platform to document my day, show designs being cut, sewn, and last of all, the finished product. Updating Etsy and the website is hard and is another job in itself. I’m too busy in the shop and sewing stock, so just stalk me on IG and FB, call the shop for over-the-phone payment and I can post that day.
Which is your best-selling product?
All stock sells close to even. Some days I will sell out of cushions, some days I will sell out of shower caps. All I know is whatever I sew and top up that day, the opposite will sell out. I also sell all my fabric by the metre too
What aspect of running a small business do you find most difficult?
The bookwork and admin. Paperwork never stops. Criticism is still hard to deal with or people questioning the business. I’m not ‘lucky’ to have survived, I worked my arse off for it. Also, people asking for a discount. Yeah… that ain’t happening
With the push toward online stores, do you find your brick-and-mortar store is still important for your business?
99.9% of my sales still come from my bricks-and-mortar store. I have had the label for 16 years and the store for nearly 8.5 years now. I love getting dressed up and going to work. All my sewing gets done in-store. This gives me better time management and not wasting a minute of the day. I also get my energy from my customers. So many of my designs have come from talking to customers with items they have needed. I also use them as a sounding board, not only for my designs but in life.
Who, in business, art or design, do you look to for inspiration?
Everyday life inspires me. I love colour. Any designers that are willing to be bold bright and out there. I look up to anyone that juggles a family and runs a business. Some days I don’t have enough energy to look after myself. I admire anyone that has just given it a go. It’s a tough gig and you have to love what you do
What’s your cocktail of choice?
I rarely drink, but I do looooove coffee
When you’re not working, what other hobby or passion do you partake in?
I ride a 750cc Honda Shadow motorbike. I am a bit of an adrenalin junkie. I own a 50kg Bull Arab /Bull Mastiff named Geoffrey who I recused during Covid after losing my other pooch Clyde overnight. He comes to work every day and flirts with customers. I love hanging out with him and going for drives in my van. I love afternoon beach swims, my nephews, reading biographies, watching Aussie films, and sleep. O God, do I love sleep