Spotlight on: Peta & Rowena from Mother + Joey
Meet Australia’s first fashion label dedicated to twinning. Creating outfits for mothers, sons and daughters, mother + joey redefine the concept of “matchy matchy” – making it polished, modern and decidedly cool. We chat to Peta, one-half of the design duo based in the Hunter Valley, to find out about how the brand started and what the future holds in store.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE & WHAT YOU DO?
Our designs are timeless, our style is forever. Making clothes for mothers, sons, daughters and soon, fathers – we only use the finest linens and natural cottons in colours true to our country’s landscape.
Hand-crafted in Australia, designed in our Hunter Valley workshop, we are proudly part of the minority who are making clothes onshore, supporting the ‘slow fashion’ movement and keeping the traditional skills of pattern designing, dressmaking and high-quality tailoring alive.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
We are not from a fashion background and have part time jobs with 5 kids aged 5 and under between us.
Rowena is a Registered Nurse, with an eye for design and strengths in brand development. Peta is a marketing specialist, can sew, and looks after business operations like production but also stakeholder management and marketing.
We literally had a chat over the fence about 12 months ago about starting a fashion label dedicated to family fashion after we realised no one was doing it in Australia. A member of Peta’s family was in the industry and made clothes in Sydney, she was kind enough to pass on her little book of contacts, which gave us the start in the production process. After 9 months of planning, testing and organising the business essentials, we had a product to launch.
WHAT HAS CHANGED FOR YOU GUYS THIS YEAR & WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO?
We have refined our business model after learning what works best with a season behind us, and have started ramping up our marketing activities and profile building with the media and other stakeholders within Australian industry.
Next is to take our Australian brand global and create a reputation. mother+joey is determined to slow down fast fashion, where it’s becoming more common to ask the question “who made my clothes?” as part of The Slow Fashion Revolution.
We hope our fashion label becomes recognised for its genuine roots and ethical principles. We hope to rule the world with ‘slow’ family fashion. As Vivienne Westwood said, “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
For the new season ahead, we are launching some new lines, which cater for Dads! Also a very exciting new collaboration with fellow Australian designer of fabric and wallpaper, Kate Swinson of Native Swinson. It’s called ‘mother native’ and will be available this coming spring.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR AVERAGE DAY? DOES IT EXIST FOR YOU?
Ha, no way does it! Because of our children being so little, nothing is the same with them around. Our work meetings are usually play-dates with some element of business and a zillion coffees thrown in.
When in production though, our day would start with a team briefing with our production manager, a meeting with the pattern grader, a visit to our fabric wholesaler and fittings to make sure the samples are coming together as planned. On another day we might have a photo shoot in the city’s studio or in a cool location, sponsor a fashion or industry event with some stock on display, a meeting with a personal stylist or simply be in the workshop packaging up orders with love and a heart-felt note.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT… CAN YOU SHARE A QUICK ‘THIS WILL FOREVER CHANGE YOUR WORKDAY’ TIP?
Yep! Outsource the things you can’t do or just don’t enjoy! Engage a specialist to cover the essentials that you will spend hours cringing about (that just isn’t worth it!). Then you can focus on ‘your genius zone’ or the reason you started the project to begin with.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
Getting started without a lot of capital. Although we have managed to generate a lot of positive publicity for no cost. This has been pivotal to creating a brand, which is now established so quickly.
HOW HAS THE COMPANY CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED?
It’s still we two as business partners at the top, but we now have an amazing team of specialists we use to create what you see and we are so proud of what we have managed to achieve considering we weren’t experts in the fashion industry. Experience overall, and time in seat is hands down the most crucial thing. Good or bad, you just keep learning and growing.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ‘WIN’ SINCE LAUNCHING?
It would have to be entering and winning the Lexus x Collective Hub Start Up Package. We have been fortunate enough to have mentoring by magazine Editor and Founder, Lisa Messenger, use of a brand new Lexus car and fuel for three months plus a huge amount of advertising, all worth $50,000. That changed our course big time, as you can imagine as a little start-up!
WHAT’S THE BEST FASHION PURCHASE YOU’VE EVER MADE?
We would both have to say our RM Williams boots. They last forever and we style them with all of our designs.
IF SOMEONE COULD ONLY BUY ONE NEW ACCESSORY NEXT SEASON, WHAT SHOULD IT BE & WHY?
The linen earrings that match our clothing. They are handmade by another small business mum in our signature custom fabrics.
Media can discover and download all hi-res images from Mother + Joey here.