This week’s profile is a little different – it’s the tale of two smart, talented and dynamic Byron Bay-based sisters – Isabella Pennefather and Elizabeth Briedis – who together have created a hugely successful modern-bohemian fashion brand that now has over 600K followers on Instagram (628K at last count) and a loyal, engaged clientele (they’ve got a database of almost 100K fans). Eight years in and Spell & The Gypsy Collective is adored by women around the world including celebrities such as Katy Perry, Alessandra Ambrosi, Miley Cyrus and Elsa Pataky. Famous for their ‘gypsy prints’, romantic vintage-inspired lace, tassels and embroidery, Spell is now a cult-classic at music festivals, road-trips and island getaways...
We should probably warn you that it’s almost impossible to visit the Spell & The Gypsy Collective online store and leave without purchasing something. A bohemian blouse (perfect with denim jeans) or a little lace sun dress – you want to look like a Spell woman. These women are clever content creators who know how to bring their brand to life. So who is the Spell woman? “We’ve been able to distil it down to this: she’s a woman who wants to feel beautiful and feminine. Age, size, shape is irrelevant!” says co-creator Briedis. Spell & The Gypsy Collective started at Byron Bay’s local artisan markets, when Pennefather (whose childhood nickname was Spell) started selling her hand-made jewellery. Her sister Elizabeth later left her Bondi Beach home and career as a film editor to become Spell’s business partner. Together, they’ve gone on to become one of Australia’s most successful fashion brands and have since expanded into fashion, accessories and homewares. We spent the afternoon with the stylish sisters and their adorable tribe (Elizabeth is the mother of Indiana, 3, and Alushia, 2, while Isabella has Texas Jesse, 5, and Jagger Mac, 2) to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at Spell… Photographer: Raegan Glazner Set styling: Lucy Ewing Hair and makeup: Luciana Rose
Sisters Isabella Pennefather and Elizabeth Briedis
What has motherhood taught you?
Elizabeth: It has taught me the secret handshake to the sisterhood and that more than ever, I need a community around me. Isabella: It taught me to slow down and look at life, look at those special moments and enjoy them, appreciate them. I think after I had children, I actually woke up and saw life in a slightly new light. A brighter light!
What has been the most surprising part of motherhood for you?
Elizabeth: The dichotomies. That motherhood is everything. And also that motherhood alone is not enough, I need a creative outlet beyond my children. Isabella: The newfound love I have for my parents, sisters, cousins and husband. I realised that family is the most important thing in life! Since having children, I have become so much closer to my mother in particular. I finally realised what she gave up in life to bring up my three sisters and I! She is an incredible friend and mother.
What is your advice to new mothers?
Elizabeth: Something my mum told me when Indi wasn’t settling was ‘don’t worry, you can’t die from tiredness’. I found it very reassuring! Isabella: Try and embrace those early months and years, don’t try and do too much. Just enjoy that bundle of joy for a while, and then worry about doing exercise or getting back to work only when you feel ready. And for those who can’t stop working (like me) just do it at a slow pace and really give yourself time to hang with your other mother friends and keep those friendships going, as it really helps having other mothers to talk to through the early days of no sleep and breastfeeding!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Elizabeth: That pretty much every instinct you ever had was right. So keep following them and you’ll be fine! Isabella: I’m so happy with my life as a younger woman. I studied, I worked in dream jobs, I travelled, I partied, and now settling down with my children and husband, I feel very, very satisfied that I truly lived life to the fullest, so I’m not sure what advice I would give to myself? Maybe to be in the moment a little bit more, and really appreciate those moments of utter freedom to sleep in, and travel whenever I wanted, really appreciate those young freer years of life.
How do you juggle work with motherhood?
Elizabeth: Not very well. It’s definitely my biggest challenge… Isabella: To be honest I am still asking myself that question every minute of everyday. I’m not sure how I’m doing it? The last five years have been a bit of a blur, it has been the busiest five years – starting up and running our fast growing business, and doing it all while having two kids. I have a very supportive husband who looks after our boys now, which is an amazing help! But generally, I find when I go to work, I work! When I come home, I’m with the family and don’t look at my computer. I’m also very good at bringing the family along to photo shoots and inspiration trips, so mixing business and family gives me that extra time with them. It really is a nonstop juggling act, trying to fit in work, exercise, friendships, husband time, alone time and family time. So I’ve realised that I can only have a tiny bit of each of those in my week! So it’s about sacrificing some things, and learning to use your time very, very wisely! It’s hard, but I am very fit and happy, so I must be doing something right!
What makes you feel balanced and happy?
Elizabeth: Though they’re rare at the moment, my morning lighthouse walks. And when it’s just the four of us and everyone is happy – I feel so full of joy! Isabella: All I need is a walk to the lighthouse once a week, a yoga class, a swim in the ocean by myself, and a night out with friends, and I’m happy as a clam. So it’s about allocating time for those things, to assure you are happy and balanced.
What makes you feel stressed?
Elizabeth: What makes you feel stressed? My inbox! Isabella: When I haven’t allocated time for exercise during the week, it actually gets me a bit stressed. I really believe it makes you happy getting out and doing something good for your body. So that is the only thing that gets me stressed. Work is always busy and crazy but I love it… so it’s never stressful.