One of the main reasons I still tolerate Instagram is because I love having a stream of colourful, cheerful and beautiful things to scroll through when I need cheering up or if I’m looking for some inspiration. I have the same feelings towards Pinterest and you can tell, from how many pins I’m managed to collect over the years! Anyway, if your Instagram feed isn’t filling you with joy, get yourself a Digital Detox going and start using your social media more wisely. Today, I’m celebrating, Sarsparilly, an Australian vintage inspired clothing brand that I stumbled upon on Instagram. I absolutely love the shapes of 50s fashion, so whenever I find a brand with this aesthetic I pay attention. Sarsparilly stands out to me because of their awesome choices of geek inspired prints alongside timeless, versatile silhouettes. They’ve been selling made to order since the start but are about to embark in a new direction, so this was the perfect time to have a chat with owner, Maria. Grab a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy!
What inspired you to go down the vintage inspired route with Sarsparilly?
I started Sarsparilly in 2009, but when I started it, it was a completely different business. I sold my own handmade clothing, but also true vintage pieces from the US and Japan and clothing, jewellery and accessories by other handmade artisans. I ran it as a part time business while raising my first son and working a full time job. I was living in an Australian town called Geelong where there is a place called the Mill Market. They allow you to rent a retail space under the roof of a giant warehouse, everyone there sold retro, vintage and collectibles so it seemed like a great fit with Sarsparilly. It was while I had a retail space there that I met Lisa, who moved into the empty stall next to mine. I always had the issue that much of my true vintage was quite small, not a lot of large vintage pieces have survived and especially the Japanese vintage was very small. Lisa suggested I try reproduction vintage pieces similar to what she sold. From there I started bringing in reproduction pieces which I loved because you could get them in a large range of sizes, but what I did find was that because there weren’t very many brands like this in the world at the time, a lot of stores were selling the same product. I decided to start designing and releasing my own pieces and sold them alongside the other reproduction labels I had sold previously. In 2016 I relaunched Sarsparilly with all of my own designs and it’s grown to be what you see today.
Do you design your own prints? What inspires your print choices the most?
All of our current prints are designed by independent designers and not exclusive to us, however, as of our next big collection launch in April and going forward all prints will be our own. We are really excited about some of the artists we have commissioned to design prints for our new collections this year so stay tuned!
Can you tell us a little more about your experience with getting government funding to start your business?
At the very beginning of Sarsparilly I was part of a program called NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme). The Australian government offers people with a business idea the opportunity to study a Small Business Management Certificate at a technical college (or TAFE as it’s called in Australia). After that training they offer business mentor support for a year (and during your course you create a Business Plan and have the opportunity to apply for funding via a bank at a reduced interest rate) and also give you a small amount of funds during the year to help support you while you were trying to get your business off the ground. I had lost my job with a large Not-for-profit organisation and while sitting in a job agency waiting for an interview I saw a pamphlet advertising it and it all started from there.
Our Sushi of My Heart skirt is now live on the website! Yes those are faces on the sushi, so kawaii it hurts! . Photography @mochrumphotography Model @bridgette__m Hmua @jasmine_dale_makeup_artist . . . . . #sarsparilly #rockabilly #rockabella #pinup #pinupgirl #pinuplife #sushi #sushiprint #superkawaii #kawaii #kawaiilife #handmadefashion #handmade #cutefashion #fashion #fashiondesigner #ootd #cottonskirt #noveltyprint
What tips would you share with anyone new to dressmaking?
It’s a really great idea to get some lessons to teach about reading patterns, how to adjust commercial patterns to fit you better, certain stitches for certain types of fabric etc. If you aren’t able to get lessons Youtube is pretty amazing for teaching yourself.
What advise would you give to someone who wants to set up a handmade business?
If you are making items to sell, make sure you price them accordingly, you don’t want to be working for nothing, but at the same time it has to be a price that someone would pay, it’s a bit of a fine line. In any business I always suggest outsourcing the pieces of the business that may not be your strength. For a long time I tried saving money by doing my own book keeping, but in the end I’m so glad I decided to outsource it so I could get on with the more creative things in the business.
Can you tell us a bit more about the steps you’re taking to be more eco-friendly and ethical?
All of our garments use fabric that is custom printed and we order that as we need it, so we don’t have rolls and rolls of fabric lying around waiting to be used, we only print what we need. Also much of the fabric is printed by a printer that uses Eco friendly dyes. Another way we are trying to be more eco friendly is by creating quality garments that you can keep for a lifetime. They are pieces that can be re-sold or passed on, they wont fall apart after a couple of uses. As we move into ready to wear, we will be moving offshore for production and have made sure to select a small factory that pays above normal wages within a safe environment.
What’s next for the brand? Do you have any dream projects you’d like to work on?
Things are changing so much for Sarsparilly in 2018. We are moving from made to order with an 8-10 week turnaround to a ready to wear collection that will be available straight away. We will be retiring our made to order business at the end of March and will also move into Officially licenced product collaborations. We have some amazing collaborations lined up that we will be announcing on our social media very soon and also plan on launching a kids range later in the year. So many things are happening, I can’t wait!
If you’d like to shop the brand you can find them on Etsy and on their own site. To admire their beautiful photography and keep up to date with their upcoming new releases, give them a follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @Sarsparilly. If you’d like to read more interviews with small business owners, I’ve written some on the KITSCH.inc blog and there’s more to come here too!
I took a personal step back from blogger world last year, to make room for some of my own creative projects and ideas, as well as to focus on our business and relocation to Barcelona, it’s been interesting. I did a big unfollow of a lot of uninspiring, cookie cutter type bloggers on my social networks to make room for a wider variety of creativity, if you’re bothered, you can read more about this on my Digital Detox related posts. It’s been a breath of fresh air and has provided me with a much more enjoyable and inspiring output from my (now reduced) time spent on my personal social media channels. Anyway, time for one of my rants. This time it’s been proof read several times and I spent over a week pondering it, so I hope it’s more eloquent than past rants.
However, one of the things that really hasn’t changed is the amount some bloggers complain about brands not comprehending something or complaining about brands not wanting to pay them. I’ve mostly kept quiet on this subject because I really don’t want to cause an argument or anything, it’s not my style. But, I really do think it’s important to talk about and speak up when you’ve got an opinion on anything. Negativity isn’t a helpful vibe, if we all focused more on celebrated the positive we’d all be a lot happier & get more shit done.
Random unrelated photo of a Keith Haring mural and a dog in Barcelona taken by me.
Without a doubt, 2016 has been a strange year internationally and it’s definitely passed its influence onto everyone else. There’s a really strange vibe as this year closes, people are worried and many wanting to break away to help their well-being. Who can blame us really with a rich idiot becoming the most powerful man on Earth and a rather major fuck up when it comes to Brexit, plus the fact that there’s a whole bunch of people who don’t seem to see that these things are dangerous, which is equally worrying. Pile on top of that the number of heroes and icons we lots this year, the number of bombs dropped on innocent people, the increasing suffering of refugees and a load more nasty stuff, something has definitely been on the blink. However, let’s not let all this chaos distract from moving forward and trying to do the best we can. Here’s my little blogging tradition, a look back at what happened for me this year and some thoughts.
I’m having a little social media detox at the moment to give some space to focus on creating new creative projects and writing more. I know social media has a negative impact on me, so I’m being wise about how I use it. I’m still using Instagram daily, because I love my carefully curated feed of inspirational, colourful creative people. So, I thought I’d share a few suggestions of people to follow on social media if you want less cookie cutter selfies and more colour, inspiration and kick-ass women doing great things. These recommendations come straight from the heart, they’ve all inspired me on some level personally and I hope they will inspire you too.
In Colourful Company
If you haven’t heard about In Colourful Company just yet, you are missing out. Created by wonderful, slightly nerdy illustrator, Toni Bee, this is a community for fans of rainbows and cheerful creative. It’s a community based on kindness, acceptance and being supportive of each other, just what we need to survive modern digital life! There are so many creatives within this community that have inspired me over the years and I’m proud to be a tiny part of it. You can get involved via the hashtag #incolourfulcompany which is mainly used on Instagram and there’s also a Facebook Group, Toni also curates Colour Walks so members can meet up in real life too. I’m sure if you spend just a few minutes on the hashtag you’ll stumble upon some new favourite creative people from illustrators, Etsy shop owners to teachers who like to knit.
Lima, aka Fashionicide has been on the blogging scene as long as I have, big up class of 2009! I’m still baffled that she hasn’t hit the big time yet, she deserves so much love, respect and success. Despite being in the blogosphere from 2009, it’s only in very recent years that her alternative South Asian aesthetic has been getting the attention it deserves. Lima’s content is intelligent, well researched and presented alongside the most incredible creative self-portrait shoots. Multi-lingual, unique, original and bloody amazing at make-up this is the sort of creative role model we need more of right now. Lima blogs sporadically, but you’ll find her on Instagram and Twitter pretty much daily for a good dose of Blade Runner-esque, neon beauty (with brains) goodness.
I genuinely don’t know where you should look first: the badass graphic eyeliner? The contour? Those turquoise lips? You decide! Just know that the eyeliner was inspired by @dominiqueldr and the Contour was created using the @katvondbeauty Shade + Light Palette, which I’ve just reviewed over on the blog, link in bio! ?
I’ve known Paige (digitally, because somehow we’ve always just missed each other location wise) for a very long time, she was the first illustrator I hired on behalf of a brand in fact! I relate to Paige massively, we have so many friends and places in common and even though we’ve never met I’m super proud of what she’s achieved and love seeing what she’s been up to. Just like me, Paige progressed from blogging to working in social media in London to being freelance. You will love Paige’s content if you’re into pretty, pastel, vintage inspired style and enjoy a good DIY craft project. Paige has also started hosting DIY craft workshops in London, so this is definitely something to look out for if you’re in the city.
I have many London blogger event selfies with Laura and I wish I’d spent more time with her when I lived in London. I’m a massive fan of Laura’s rainbow fuelled, 90s inspired personal style, she can be my personal stylist any day! I also massively admire Laura because she’s also a Mum to two boys and hasn’t let that change what she’s into, Laura is #MotherhoodGoals to me. We have a shared love for the geeky side of life and she helped me learn crochet one Summer via Facebook Messenger. Give Laura a follow if you want to see rainbows, crochet projects and her cosy, colourful home. You can also find her fashion blog, That’s So Yesterday, which has been one of my favourite fashion blogs for many years.
When you were gonna take a ‘serious’ outfit photo, but get photobombed by two cuties and actual laugh -I absolutely hate my smile/laugh in photos. ??? They often drive us nuts, but me and @toolmonkeyuk have enjoyed this weekend. • • • • #fbloggers #fbloggersuk #rainbowlife #rainbow #mumlife #lovemyboys
Kizzy Von Doll
Kizzy is another old school blogger, class of 2010! A fellow fan of dreamy, fantasy inspired style with a splash of Asian inspiration, Kizzy is a fan of Korean drama and K-pop, should that be a niche you have in common. I can share that love for Korean and Japanese entertainment, so would recommend you do some research if you want to broaden your watching/listening horizons. Kizzy creates content around all sorts of topics, with a specific aesthetic in mind rather than just one niche, you know I dig that vibe. If you like pastel, vintage and Harajuku influenced style, you should give her a follow for sure!
I’ll try to do some more posts like this soon, because I think it’s important to use your platforms to celebrate others too. If someone has inspired you in whatever way, send them thanks, give them a shout out and let them know because it means the world to the individual. If you can recommend any other colourful creatives you think I should follow, drop me a comment or tweet or Instagram to @JayneKitsch.
I really cannot believe how quickly so many people dive into bleaching their hair and then wonder why their hair is so broken after treating it so badly. I don’t think many people realise the significant amount of care and caution you need to sign up to when you commit to a drastic hair change. So, here I’m going to share some more words of wisdom for you from my personal experience on how to best look after dry, damaged, bleached and over processed hair, hair a bit like Jem’s here…