For Byron-based mother of four Sarah Humphrey, having no formal training in fashion design and small children in her full-time care wasn’t a deterrent in starting her own fashion line barely six months ago...
With an appreciation for vintage-design and a quality over quantity sensibility, Chasing Unicorns is a label built on a deep respect for artisan techniques and nostalgic design combined with a distinctly feminine edge. Living and working on an 11 acre property makes the work/baby juggle a little easier when the kids are free to roam, as well as the notoriously supportive Byron Bay mum-community which is filled with like-minded women, as Sarah explains: “It’s a place with a lot of creativity and people lift each other up and help each other in business. My friends are largely the same since before we had kids and during our 10 years of friendship, everyone has started businesses as well as having children. We have all supported each other as we do this motherhood/self-employed juggle with end of the day beach picnics and wine to keep us all sane.” Read on to hear how Sarah combines a busy family life with the demands of a growing fashion business. Words: Marisa Remond | Images: Sally Patti | Go to www.chasingunicorns.com.au
Tell us how Chasing Unicorns came about? Have you always been a designer with your own collection?
No, I have a university degree in biology and no formal training in design, yet I’ve had a life-long love of vintage clothing and an interest in aesthetic detail and style. I’ve been casually involved in styling, designing and providing vintage inspiration for other people’s labels for years but had some moral reservations about having my own label as the fashion industry is such a globally detrimental one. However, passion won out and I launched Chasing Unicorns this past March with an ethos and aesthetic that is true to my lifestyle and family.
You're heavily influenced by vintage-designs, what is it about nostalgic prints and silhouettes that strike a chord with your aesthetic?
It’s not so much prints (as no matter how great they are, we tend to get bored of any one print over time). It’s more the subtle details and craftsmanship. I adore artisan techniques and think they lack in contemporary fast fashion. I love hand stitching, French knots, beading shocking, crochet and pin tucks. Techniques that women used to sit around and do for pleasure while they socialised but are now all but lost! I also love silhouettes that are sexy and womanly in an understated way and often vintage styles capture this idea perfectly. The brand’s tag line is “For the Love of Nostalgia” which I think encapsulates the essence of this.
How do you combine running your own label with being a mum?
My family is in America (where I am from) and I ALWAYS have my kids with me. I cart them to the post office daily to post orders, to my photo shoots, and work from home (or my phone at the soccer field) or however we can make it work! None of my kids have ever gone to daycare, they go to school when they are school age but until then, they are wrapped around my legs. It’s not always easy or pretty but living on a farm makes working at home possible for me. The kids can run free outside while I get work done. They entertain themselves so much better now that we have land and space than they did when we lived in town. Also, Byron is an extremely entrepreneurial area and I work almost exclusively with people who also work with kids underfoot so it’s something we all just accept.
Have you always lived in Byron Bay? Tell us a bit about running a business and raising a family there?
I’ve lived in Byron for 10 years. It’s an incredible place to raise children, mainly because of the relaxed, outside, free lifestyle and as I mentioned the entrepreneurial aspect of this area.
What type of mum are you - calm, strict, relaxed...?
Haha. Not calm and not routine-based that’s for sure! I’m relaxed in letting my kids be free and always unconditional in my comforting and love. I’m intense, my husband is intense and they are all intense… we have a wild household!
What are three things you can’t live without that keep you sane?
Running in the morning, a wine in the evening, and grounding family time on a Sunday.
What’s next for Chasing Unicorns?
I’m venturing away from the bohemian predominately ’60 and ’70s vibe of my first range and am about to release some luxe silk pieces with a distinctly rock edge. Think a little bit Michelle Pfeiffer in Scar Face.