- HI KATIE! TELL US ABOUT SILK LAUNDRY AND HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT:
I spent the majority of my 20s searching for the perfect slip dresses, scouring second-hand shops for vintage silk and asking friends from New York to bring me silk camis. At the time, brands didn’t ship Internationally, so this was the only way I could find quality silk pieces. It seemed ridiculous that there was no go-to place to buy silk collections, so in 2014 the Silk Laundry concept was born. I released my first capsule in 2014, which included drawstring shorts, a silk blouse, a t-shirt and the 90s slip. I was particularly focused on the shape of the 90’s slip dress which hasn’t changed since the first design. They were perfect from the beginning.
- WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER PATH LEADING TO STARTING YOUR OWN LABEL:
I actually graduated with a degree in Psychology but my heart was never there. After graduating I kept studying different creative fields trying to find my path. I studied gilding, I worked on weekends with a friend as a picture framer framing fine art in Sydney, I loved being able to work with my hands stretching canvasses. I studied Fashion Illustration and Industrial Sewing, Floristry, Interior Design and I spent many years working in retail. I absolutely loved it all. I loved managing, finding people who were suited to join the team and making customers happy. I think all the experiences in my life eventually lead me right where I am today.
- YOU DESCRIBE YOUR HQ AS BEING ‘SLIGHTLY OFF THE GRID’ TELL US ABOUT YOUR SPACE AND WHAT WORK/LIFE BALANCE MEANS TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM:
We work in Tallebudgera Valley, on the Gold Coast. I have built in the underneath of my big old Queenslander so that we have enough space as an office for myself, two full-timers and a couple of interns. I really started Silk Laundry and SJ Lingerie with very little, so to have it all run from home really came down to affordability. However, that being said, I recently had my second child and since the day I brought him home from the hospital he has been our little office baby.
- WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST EYE-OPENER WHEN OPENING THE ONLINE STORE THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH OUR READERS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
It definitely isn’t easy and requires 24/7 attention. You never really get to switch off when you run your own business so it is quite hard at times. I’ve learnt that the bigger you get, the more you end up spending trying to maintain growth and cash flow. It is a lifelong commitment so I would advise anyone who is starting out to make sure it is truly something they’re happy doing even when you can’t pay yourself. In saying all of that, it is really exciting to see that Silk Laundry is rapidly becoming an essential for the wardrobes of many women. I would say my work is love made visible.
- DESCRIBE THE PERFECT DAY WHILST CLAD IN SILK LAUNDRY:
My perfect day usually starts with long cuddles from my two boys. Then we put on a big fresh pot of coffee, collect the eggs from our chickens and I make crepes with all the extras. Lemon and sugar, berries and fresh cream, maple syrup. Then we would have a long walk close to the beach and a picnic with fresh bread, cheese, berries, cucumbers. I would open a bottle of Pinot in the afternoon and watch my husband make fresh pasta. I think it’s incredible. My eldest son would be choosing records and playing them in the record player. My perfect day would be completely schedule-free with no obligations, just relaxing time with the family.
- WHO IS YOU SILK LAUNDRY WOMAN? WHO DO YOU HAVE IN MIND WHEN YOU ARE DESIGNING?
Every woman is my Silk Laundry woman. Our dresses are cut on the bias to cascade down a woman’s body, highlighting the natural curves. I want women to be comfortable with themselves, not simply cover up. We ensure to design to fill the gap of essentials in women’s wardrobes when planning out new ranges.
- WE’VE LOVED THE COLOUR PALETTE YOU’VE USED IN YOUR COLLECTION OF SLIP DRESSES, TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THESE COLOURS:
Most of the time, I just go with what feels right at that moment. There is absolutely no reasoning or analysis behind my choices. Funnily enough, I am inspired much of the time by my chickens. It’s absolutely so beautiful the way their feathers catch the light. The Opal dress that we had a while ago was actually inspired by one of my chickens I called “Blue”, the messy dot black with white spots looks a lot like the plumage of my guinea fouls. I am also inspired a lot by colours I see in paintings. Right now I really love the colours used by artist Meredith Frampton. I think her work will be influencing upcoming collections.
- YOUR ’90s SLIP DRESS HAS BECOME A BIT OF A CULT PIECE, TELL US ABOUT THIS CUT AND WHY YOUR CUSTOMERS LOVE IT SO MUCH:
It has! This was one of my first ever pieces when starting the very first Silk Laundry capsule, before “slip dressing” really took off. Our 90’s slip flows down your body, which is why it suits every shape. I love the glossiness of the silk and the movement it allows. It’s wonderful watching women become comfortable with the way their body moves. I know have so many customers coming back to buy more of the exact same piece and I think that is a great testament to the quality, longevity and wearability of the pieces.
- WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO REMEDY WHEN YOU’RE STUCK IN A CREATIVE RUT?
I love taking a drive to Brisbane and visiting the art galleries, GOMA and QAG. I also really get inspired listening to Monocle podcasts while walking on the beach on my own, they have one called “The Entrepreneurs” which is my go to.
- WORK AND KIDS – ‘BALANCE’ IS AN OFTEN OVERUSED WORD, BUT TELL US YOUR SECRET!
I have absolutely no secret, nor am I sure I have balance. I have trouble asking for help so I try to do everything myself, which I have come to realise is impossible. I work in almost all of my quiet moments, often it’s when the baby is asleep on top of me that I can tackle my inbox. Cedric, our newest addition, has worked in the office with me from the week he was born. Maternity leave wasn’t something I really had. He has been completely immersed in my work and he even came to China with me last month whilst doing factory visits. It’s been great though and the girls who were in the office on the day I went into labour are still with me, so they have a special bond and have been wonderful in moments when he needs a little play or a cuddle. He is now 10 months and it’s become much harder having him at work with me so he has just started childcare twice a week. He’s absolutely loving it. My husband and I have had “date night” every Wednesday for the past 5 years too. We just go for dinner and have a wine child-free which I’ll be forever grateful to my in-laws for.
- HOW DO YOU START YOUR WEEK?
Usually in chaos.
- WHAT ABOUT ENDING THE WEEK?
With a big glass of red wine!
- TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT YOU’VE LOVED SO FAR THIS YEAR?
I have started working with a print designer this year as previously I was mainly doing block colours and very easy prints. The print designer and I have been able to bounce ideas off each other at any time of day or night and we are working on so many prints at the moment. Creatively it’s been an amazing outlet for me.
- WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WOULD SAY TO SOMEONE ABOUT TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
That’s a really difficult question to answer. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because for me it has been such a long journey so far, and it’s been hard. Starting out it is extremely costly and there are times you are afraid you can’t pay staff or insurance. The bigger you get and the more you make, the more you actually spend. It seems to be a never ending cycle and the inner workings are quite complex. Be prepared to put in a lot of hard work and time.
- NEXT ADVENTURE OR PROJECT YOU CAN SHARE?
I’m off to Italy for a friends wedding so I’ll be hopping over to Barcelona for a shoot with a great stylist Marianne Krausse and photographer Ezra Pratchett. I’m in awe of their work so I feel so fortunate. We have also just opened our first Silk Laundry store and pulled it all together in less than a month. It is be located at 50 James Street in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. It’s been a wild ride!
- WHAT IS ONE LESSON YOUR BUSINESS HAS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE?
You can always aim higher. At Silk Laundry, we are committed to celebrating women, lifelong designs and taking responsibility. We keep our values in the forefront of our minds, and always try to do better than the day before. Every day is a new opportunity, whether that means reminding women they are beautiful as they are, or brainstorming ways to create an environmentally-conscious fashion environment. It’s important to have something to strive towards.
To shop the Silk Laundry range and follow along on Katie’s journey, head to the Silk Laundry website.
Photos by Kendall Hubbard.