Arabella Ramsay couldn’t get anymore artistic if she tried. It helps that she has creativity in her blood. Her father, Dougal Ramsay, is a renowned artist, her brother, Tom Ramsay, is a photographer and her great-great uncle, Hugh Ramsay was a famous Australian painter. “My family are very creative, my Mum sewed, Dad was an illustrator. I was always surrounded by textiles, fashion and art. Dad would have exhibitions and we would travel a lot. While her father would end up illustrating prints for her fashion collections, it was her own mother Nellie, who had the biggest impact on her decision to become a designer. My Mum has always been very passionate and creative. She made a lot of my clothes when I was little, lots of hand smocked dresses and hand knitted jumpers. She is so stylish and has always been interested in fashion and standing out in the crowd. Even today she is so ahead of her time. Shes always wearing the latest trend way before it has even become a trend.”
Ramsay grew up in the country on a sheep farm near Kyneton, in the Macedon Ranges north-west of Melbourne. She left home at the age of 18 to study textile design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and launched her own label from her bedroom floor at the age of 22. In 2012, she launched a diffusion label named Ryder, with friend Penny Brown, but has since departed the label.
It was about eight months into motherhood, after her first daughter Marlowe was born, that Ramsay decided to make a change. “I needed a break and time away from fashion. I wanted some time for me, to focus on being a Mum. I guess my priorities shifted,” she says. ”With Marlowe I was so busy running around, getting into outfits each day, breast feeding wherever I could and trying to be a super mum. When her second daughter Lottie came along, things were different. I sat at home sipping cups of tea on the deck, surrounded by nature. I was so relaxed and enjoyed every moment. It’s amazing the difference in babies if you do the latter.”
She’s not the first career driven woman whose priorities dramatically changed after entering this new life stage. “Now the girls are almost three and one, the work I do is very selective,” she says. ”At the moment I am designing a range of sleepwear, homewares and underwear for Disney, which will be stocked in Target stores nationally. Fortunately for this job I have been able to do the majority at home, usually when the girls have been sleeping or at night. I am lucky to have a freelance job, which has suited my routine. It has been very rewarding and keeps my creative mind ticking over.”
Ramsay now lives in a newly built home in the Victorian coastal town of Jan Juc, which she shares with her two beautiful daughters and yoga instructor husband Chris Wilson. ”I often feel like we live in a tree house or some magical wooden house from Robinson Crusoe - it is a very unique house with lots of recycled wood and organic, earthy type fittings,” she says. An avid collector of art, Ramsay says: ”My brother is a photographer so we have a lot of his photos on the walls and obviously my Dad’s naïve illustrations, which the girls love we recently bought a large Michael Muir, which has the most amazing colours.” As for her favourite space in the house, it’s her bedroom. ”I love our big yellow brass bed that we can all fit in and the view out the window is so calming. We see the tops of all the trees and watch the kookaburras go past. Another favourite pastime with her family? We have a fire pit on our property and most weekends we light a fire, get out the billabong rug and toast marshmallows.”
Arabella’s little list of loves:
Snuggles in bed in the morning.
Collecting the eggs.
Cooking meringues with the girls.
I just finished reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, which was a good size book for Mums (small that is).
Hendricks Gin and tonic.
Eau D’Italie: bath and body products I recently picked up at a hotel in Positano, Italy, called Le Sirenuse.
My Chanel sneakers.
A good movie.
Photography: Marcel Aucar Words: Georgie Abay