What did your career entail before starting Apotheke?
To be honest, I didn’t have a ‘career’ before Apotheke as I became a mother at 25, while I was still studying marketing at university. For four years’, I worked with my husband who owned two restaurants with his family. Throughout both pregnancies and maternity leave, I did everything from waitressing, kitchen work, to admin, payroll and bookkeeping for both restaurants.
We stepped away from the family business earlier this year and Alex is now working as a builder. With his support, we made the decision to create my own dream career with Apotheke.
Tell us a little about your collection.
Our debut collection was inspired by and designed during our trip to Northern Greece, where we hand sourced fabric from a small family run cotton manufacturer. The entire collection is made from 100% Greek Cotton and consists of trans-seasonal, mostly unisex garments. They are timeless pieces that can be hopefully handed down to family or friends as your children grow.
What are some of your favourite pieces in the collection?
I have a few favourites in the collection; our free pants – mostly because I want to create them in my own size! I also love our onesies; being a mother and only needing one item of clothing to make up the entire outfit for my child is my dream-of-ease.
Can you tell us the reason behind making in Australia?
Manufacturing in Australia just made sense to us and we never really considered any other options. Along with the environmental and social benefits of manufacturing onshore, it also enabled us to work closely with our manufacturer to get the best possible quality garments.
We are new to the fashion game and it was very daunting entering a very closed-off industry. I am so grateful that we found an ethically accredited manufacturer here in Melbourne who was able to manufacture all our garments. It was also important for us to have brand transparency, from watching the cotton flowers being harvested in Alex’s family village in Northern Greece and then sourcing our fabric from that region.
Once back in Australia we had the fabric dyed here and ultimately manufactured into quality garments, we are really proud that we know every small detail of our supply chain.
We love your principle of buying better, buying less. How do you make this a reality in your own wardrobe?
I think becoming a parent you inadvertently stop buying so much for yourself, but I don’t see this as a bad thing. I don’t make impulse purchases and take quite a lot of time considering what I really need. More often than not, I will buy something second-hand, or if it is something new, I like to make sure that it has a timeless quality.
What have been some of your own favourite investment purchases?
I haven’t really purchased any big ticket items for myself lately, just living in wardrobe staples; vintage jeans, my St Agni slides (that are versatile and can be worn through seasons) and I have a few Mesop pieces (also made here in Australia) that I wear on rotation. I have created a modest wardrobe over the years consisting of mostly Australian labels.
You’re a husband and wife team. How do you make that work? How do you manage to create a distinction between work life and home life?
Coming from one family business and going straight into another, I guess we don’t know any different. It isn’t always easy making the distinction between work life and home life, especially as Apotheke is also run from our humble 2-bedroom home. However, we are both quite passionate about it, which really helps, and we love dreaming together about where the brand can go, so it doesn’t always seem like work when you are doing it with your best friend.
We try not to do anything Apotheke on the weekends – devoting that time to the kids and each other. We have worked weekends in restaurants for a lifetime and it is so refreshing to have this time off together.
Who else makes up your family?
Alex and I have two small children. Stella is four and George will be two in December.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Taking the risk to start the business has been the biggest challenge so far. Putting our savings into the business was a huge risk and still is.
I am so grateful for Alex making my dreams a reality, supporting our family while I pursue the career I have always dreamed of. Starting any new business is challenging, however, the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. We hope that the challenge of starting the new brand with originality and good ethics behind it will eventually pay off.
What’s next for Apotheke?
We will continue to design new pieces for the range, adding a few more styles to the collection before the end of the year. We are a very small team (just Alex and I) and good things take time and careful consideration, so we plan to only do 1-2 releases a year (this second smaller release is using left-over fabric we have from the launch collection).
We are also hoping to get back to Greece next year to source more fabric, teach our children more of the Greek culture and come home with more ideas and inspiration for Apotheke, from where it all began.