Captivating prints and soft silhouettes are what Melbourne fashion label s t e e l e . embrace to create one of the most beautiful clothing brands in Australia.
Designed by the ever-so-talented Jessica Reid, s t e e l e . was brought to life to create a brazenly pretty collection which fuses bohemian nostalgia with modern urbanity. With their understanding of pure femininity mixed with nonchalant edge, and their undying love for the 70’s, the label makes a gorgeous statement, and stands apart from others in the fashion industry.
Popular among many celebrities and fashionistas alike, the brand is quickly gaining momentum, and is on its way to becoming a world wide phenomenon with their launch in the U.S not far away.
I was so honoured to chat with the label’s lovely designer Jess about her life as a fashion designer, and what she’s learnt about business and entrepreneurship since the label began. Jess also gave me an insight into her typical day, explained who she admires and what she believes the future looks like for s t e e l e. .
Tell me the s t e e l e . story. How did you begin? Did you always dream of becoming a fashion designer/business director, or being in a field similar?
The s t e e l e . story began whilst I was working in the industry in wholesale at The LOFFT Fashion Agency. It was a mixture of wanting to challenge myself and wanting to create an amazing 70’s inspired wardrobe that I couldn’t find anywhere else in the market. I never really had aspirations of being a fashion designer as my background was in buying and wholesale, but I felt the timing was right and took a leap of faith, and so s t e e l e . was born.
Who is the s t e e l e . woman?
I like to think of the s t e e l e . woman as an urban jetsetter with severe case of wanderlust – her wardrobe, a reflection of her lifestyle between the city and her adventures. She has a relaxed yet confident approach towards her style and finds strength in her femininity. She understands that being sexy doesn’t always mean tight and revealing clothing but can be communicated through casual glamour.
What have you learnt about business and entrepreneurship since starting s t e e l e . ?
Especially in the fast-paced industry that is fashion, I have learnt that you can never be complacent! You have to push internal and external boundaries and work tirelessly at bettering yourself to improve your business. Opportunities can be gone in the blink of an eye, so trusting your intuition is paramount.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is aspiring to start their own business in the fashion industry?
Have patience and passion. Trust your instincts. Be aware of market trends and consider them but avoid jumping on bandwagons that contradict what you stand for aesthetically. Sufficient funding is wise and vital. Most of all, be prepared to work long and hard hours!
Your typical day looks like?
My day starts with my husband and daughter, Asher. Busy mornings squeezing in some play time and getting everyone to their daily destinations on time. Working in such a dynamic industry means that each day at the studio is different. Some days will be about designing new collections and overseeing production, and others are spent working with the team on growth opportunities or finalizing the admin that keeps a growing business running smoothly.
Where do you get your inspiration?
The 70’s, as an era, is a constant source of inspiration for me, I’m continually intrigued by iconic muses of the decade. Ideas of laidback nonchalance and ease of wear always push me forward in the design process. At the same time, small details from international street style can spark fresh ideas I wouldn’t have previously considered. At the core of each collection is s t e e l e . ‘s signature aesthetic of tough x pretty. I love contrasting the two and push for that within each campaign.
How do you keep focused and motivated while you’re working? Do you have any tips on this for beginner entrepreneurs?
Set personal and professional goals. Measure them quarterly, or yearly – whatever works for you. Sometimes just writing them down, sends it out into the universe and magic happens. Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid of your mistakes, instead harness what you learn from them and use it.
Is there a particular businessperson you look up to and admire?
There’s a few iconic Australian & International brands run by inspiring ladies I really look up to.
And I really admire fellow working mums. Its extremely difficult and you don’t always get the balance right as hard as you try. It takes real determination to make it work and juggle the needs of yourself and others that depend on you. The women around me constantly inspire me.
What is your ultimate style advice?
Remain true to what makes you feel your most beautiful, confident & natural, especially when following trends! Fashion is such a wonderful tool for expression; embrace it!
Your favourite s t e e l e . piece at the moment is? How would you choose to style it?
Currently, my go to style is the Masha Shirt Dress, from s t e e l e . ‘s Winter 2016 collection, Celestial. It’s such an easy piece to wear and the bold print means versatility in going from day to night. I like to style it with both a shaggy knit jacket and flats for the day or a leather jacket and heeled boots for night.
Do you get to travel much for s t e e l e . ? If so, where’s the spot you’re dying to go back to the most?
When I’m not designing in Melbourne, I’ll be overseeing production in Bali with the team or shooting new season campaigns locally or interstate. As our US launch continues to grow, I’d love to explore more of the US!
What does the future look like for s t e e l e . ?
At the moment we’re working on our inception into the US Market, that’s really exciting for us. Looking forward, we are working on growing our key national stockists and online boutique, as well as a potential flagship store. Most importantly the future for s t e e l e . is continuing to deliver collections that we are really proud of.
Image source: s t e e l e .