“What do you do?” Is a common question asked of another when a first meet takes place. When faced with this question recently I became a bit stuck. What do I do? I wondered. My occupation, on reflection, is not so easy to sum up, in fact it has taken me a number of months, years even, to come to an understanding that what I ‘do’ is not so easily defined, it is constantly evolving and quite frankly right now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, please allow me to (re)introduce myself..
An Advanced Diploma from Sydney’s Fashion Institute, East Sydney Technical College, certifies me as a Fashion Designer and for all of my twenties, I was. I started out as a spring chicken, fresh from college (with zero industry experience) running my own label Alexandra Nea, a time when Australian fashion was hot property overseas due to a competitive export dollar and a load of fabulous local talent. Alexandra Nea was stocked in boutiques and departments stores world-wide including Selfridges department store and Coco Ribbon boutique in London, Elizabeth Charles boutique in New York, select boutiques in Dubai and Singapore as well as domestic go-to destination boutique Cactus Jam in Melbourne.
Involved in every aspect of my one-lady company I designed, pattern made, toiled, sampled stitched, cut and even made all my production by hand, just me and my little Singer. Chances are, if you own an Alexandra Nea piece it was handmade by little old moi. I also ordered fabric, sourced trims, did all my own selling, packing, PR… you get the picture! It wasn’t until the third year of my label’s life that I started to outsource some of my larger production runs, mainly because I couldn’t work anymore hours in the day, there were none left. I was not great at delegating and a little bit of a control freak, not great attributes for a small business owner. But I can sew a spectacular French seam and can slip an invisible zipper into bias cut silk satin with my eyes closed (no mean feat).
A life style change with a move to London saw my label put on hold. Working as a Women’s Wear Designer for English label Ted Baker was a massive shock to the system. Used to running my own show, now I was just a minute cog in a large wheel of commercial fashion production. I saw a completely different side to fashion. Fast Fashion. The High Street. I am not sure I liked it all that much. Finding solace in my weekend vintage market trawls, I let my creative mind wander to all the wonderful intricate works of art I would create once back in Australia. Meanwhile the mass produced, commercially viable, watered down designer wheel of London’s high street churned.
Back in Australia some years later and the fashion industry had changed. The dollar was now wonderful for Aussies traveling, terrible for exporters. The GFC loomed. Not a good market to be relaunching a fashion label. Instead I took up positions as Senior Designer at local labels Collette Dinnigan followed by Little Joe Woman, watching as one after the other prominent Australian labels, crushed by growing economic pressures, closed their doors around us.
During these late 20’s years I wore many different hats. Home Owner, Wedding Planner, Renovator, Dress Maker, Blogger, Food Illustrator and Fur Baby Owner. When in a creative industry one must constantly be challenging one’s self to keep the inventive spirit alive. Change is good, a refresher for the soul which can become stale when not challenged. My latest role as a Mother to baby Samuel came along for me at just the right time. A little jolt out of routine working, no more 9-5 slog and suddenly the ideas are flowing fast and furiously again.
As I enter this next period of my life I am thrilled by all the prospects that sit and wait ahead of me, there for the taking. A little bit of life experience under my belt, made some mistakes, had some wins, now time for the next chapter.
Fast forward to present day, the creation and launch of my new site and I now call myself an Illustrator. In between naps and feeds my fingers go to work creating the images that are bouncing around in my imagination. I have a broad inspiration field, there are many things in life that pique my interest, but mostly I love and am inspired by beautiful objects. I love things that have taken the time to be created, mulled over, individually crafted by hand with great attention to detail. I hope to project a little of this in my own creations.
So I do hope you find some delight in my new works, as much as I have delighted in creating them.