Pair big ideas with big dreams and you have a label in similar standing with casper&pearl. This Adelaide-based brand is the brain child of creator, Stacey Hendrickson. At the age of 18, the self-taught designer, who started by altering vintage pieces for friends in her bedroom, launched the ethereal clothing collection that sings with 70s style and whimsical vintage charm. Just 24 months later, casper&pearl boasts a cult-like following with fans from around the world – including high-profile fashion bloggers and TeenVogue.com – revelling in Stacey’s signature bustiers. We chat to Stacey about her brand, and the ups and downs of starting your own
Describe casper&pearl’s style?
Our style is bohemian meets preppy; a mix of vintage floral with short picnic dresses. We create whimsical and dream-like designs suited to personalities such as Isabel Lucas and Alexa Chung.
Tell us about your creative process. Where do you begin when designing a collection?
I like to come up with a story first, and I always make sure I have a visual diary by my side, so when ideas come I can draw them down. I imagine my character, where she is, what she’s doing, and what she’s wearing. I draw images, write poetry, make collages of inspirational images and end up with a collection that reflects all of this.
Your bustiers are very popular with fans. What is it about your signature piece you think they love?
Our ‘First Love’ bustier is definitely our signature piece – its fun, happy and innocent with a twist of cheekiness in the back. It’s the perfect piece to wear to festivals, picnics, first dates and tea parties! It sold out in one night on our website and under 60 seconds in one of our online boutiques, Peppermayo!
Are there any fashion designers you look up to?
I adore Chloe’s effortless sophistication, and Alexander Wang’s edgy sexy style. The two of them combined would be a magical world of perfect outfits! I also really look up to Alice McCall and the girls behind Maurie & Eve. I imagine casper&pearl being sold right next to these two amazing Australian brands.
I adore Australian fashion. We’ve seen so many amazing Australian designers take the world by storm such as Lover, Magdalena Velevska, and Dion Lee which is so inspiring. One of our stockists in New York – one of the most on-trend cities in the world – will only stock Australian and New Zealand designers which says a lot!
Tell us about your upcoming collection. What’s it inspired by? What can we expect to see?
We’ll be launching our first seasonal collection ‘Secret Garden’ in March 2013 for autumn/winter. It’s inspired by my favourite childhood book written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and you can expect to see lots of cut outs, peplums, cute dresses and hand-drawn embroidery.
What is your go-to fashion/creative resource? Where do you turn to for inspiration?
I read Vogue religiously, the Australian and British versions are my favourites. I also love to read fashion blogs and keep an eye on street style. My favourite fashion bloggers would have to be Tuula, Le Gypsy and Fashion Toast. I also make sure I keep a visual diary with magazine cutouts and inspirational images. I find inspiration everywhere I go, from the colour of the sky to the flowers on the ground. I also find creativity in children’s books, Sofia Coppola movies, and the decades of the 70s and 90s.
What do you think are the biggest struggles to overcome when starting your own fashion business?
Getting noticed and building a following! You also need to work hard and show persistence to have the industry take you seriously. But this all comes with time!
Would you consider setting up a bricks and mortar store?
A casper&pearl pop up store is definitely in the near future, and then I’ll see how it goes before we do anything permanent. At the moment I can only dream of having a concept store.
What’s the number one lesson you’ve learned about the business so far? What advice do you have for others starting their own label?
I’ve always loved the saying: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” I think this is so important when starting your own business whether it’s fashion or not. This industry can be really tough, so you have to learn to brush everything off and not take anything too personally. Make sure you show respect and loyalty.
When starting out, I faced so many blunt replies and negative feedback because nobody knew about casper&pearl yet, but I always promised myself when my brand grew I would never be like that. I always make it one of my top priorities to write back to aspiring designers who ask for advice and always make sure I donate a percentage of profits to charities.
Where can people find your designs?
We’ve picked up some amazing stockists for 2013, some of the better known ones being Globalize, Nasty Gal and Dissh. We’re so excited with how many boutiques have come on board, reaching from Alice Springs to Manhattan! And you can always find our favourite casper&pearl pieces on our website.
Do you think Adelaide has its own fashion style? Where is your favourite place to shop in Adelaide?
Most definitely! Over the last few years the Adelaide fashion industry has become very significant. With the launch of the Adelaide Fashion Festival, and stores like Zimmermann and Sass & Bide opening retail stores on Rundle Street, it’s evident that Australian fashionistas are keying onto the fact that SA is up and coming. My favourite boutique at the moment is definitely Karibu Boutique on Melbourne Street!