Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi yall! My name is Ali, I'm 21, and I'm the heart, soul and bird behind Charlie Bird Clothing. I live on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula with my super dooper family and my five sewing machines. I am currently in my last year of a bachelor of Fine Art Painting and I enjoy synesso coffee machine, tictocs, opp-shops and being rad.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? I absolutely love to sew and I enjoy using natural fabrics to create designs which conjure up a nostalgic, whimsical childhood past. I especially love using screen printed linen, Japanese voile and cute trims. I tend to design quite simple, comfortable outfits, but I am from a tailoring background and so I like to add touches of high fashion tailoring and classic dressmaking detail.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? You can't go past a good Japanese pattern book for inspiration or a trip to Melbourne's fabric and patchwork shops. Things like Frankie magazine, or Vogue are great as well. Zenzo Kids is my favourite children's label, but there are some pretty awesome French and Japanese ones out there too. Usually most of my designs start off as scribbly lines on scrap paper in my handbag, a fleeting idea for a collar or a yoke. Then I burrow through my mountains of fabric to find the perfect thing for it and get to work creating a pattern, drafting, tailoring and making a toile. Then my designs are made into samples, photographed and listed on the site.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? I have been sewing since I was a wee mite, my gran was a dressmaker in the 60's and she was a fantastic teacher. Charlie Bird has been hiding all this time in my interest in fashion and my purchasing habits of endless amounts of fabric. He finally emerged in 2008, followed by many adventures with all things handmade. But mostly mum wanted her lounge room back, and the fabric had to go somewhere.
How did you come up with your business name? I pinched it off my sister. She started a craft collective called Charlie Bird Collective, then when that finished up I continued with it for the line. She dosen't want it back though and I paid her off in lollies for it.
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
The girls at Patchwork on Central Park in Malvern are a great resource for all my liberty and linen obsessions. I also love perusing the web for new ideas. Places like The Design Files, Kid Independent, Where the Lovely Things Are and Kelani Fabric Obsession are all great websites for looking. I also love town mouses blog and the Oliver & S community for lovers of tailored children's patterns.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Build your customer base up and foster relationships within the handmade community. Always be professional and try to dream big with everything you do.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
Best ever advice, get a good photographer- the most integral part of selling online is good pictures. Hit the markets to build up some knowledge of what people want and invest in a good website for people to find you at.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? Never ever let your little brother cover the iron with a melted red polyester tie, just before you go to press fifty white linen blouses. And seriously, the internet is a big bad place, try not to get caught up in the competition. Just be yourself and sell the best you've got.
What do you like to do besides creating? I am a part time barista, part time Spotlight employee and I love both my jobs. I have great friends who are super awesome at life and I really, really love to cook. I tried gardening once, but I killed half our back yard.
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?
Music - The wombats, Shins, Gotye, fleet foxes
Film - Brick, spirited away, hot fuzz
Book - Virgin Suicides
What would be your perfect day?
A sleep in, some coffee, a mid morning swim, picnic in Red Hill with a bit of a wander and produce shopping. More coffee then dinner with friends and finally some Latin dancing with my tre chic man friend.
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? Candy Bandit - felt + BEARDS + jewellery + woodland friends = rad