I started sewing when I was about 10 years old. Taught by my mum, I made most of my first pieces on a 1970’s machine, the brand name of which escapes me. At around this same time, mum gave me her entire teenage clothing and shoe collection from the seventies, and my granny introduced me to thrift shopping, a passion that would stay with me my entire life. I quickly amassed a voluminous collection spanning several eras (with a particular predilection for the 1970s and 1920s), along with several wardrobes that struggled to contain it.
Fast forward sixteen years later, and I could be found belting my lungs out as lead vocalist/songwriter of a heavy rock band, and in between, performing as the lead vocalist for an appalachian string band as well. Initially my interest in making clothes stemmed from two things: A love of vintage clothing and thrift shopping, and the want for interesting outfits to wear onstage, things that nobody else had. I’d been thrift shopping at that point for many years, and eventually racked up a pretty killer collection of vintage fabrics, patterns, and sewing notions, particularly from the 1920s to 1970s, along with a collection of outfits found along the way. I think the real turning point came after I left the appalachian band to focus on the rock band, two months later the rock band broke up (2010), and suddenly I had quite a lot of free time that I wasn’t really sure what to do with!
One year later, I decided to start Beehive Bespoke. I’d been going through a 1950’s and early 1960’s phase for several years, so the business began as a brand focusing mainly on mid-century designs (think conservative 1950’s and early 1960’s), as well as a bit of vintage selling. As time went on, however, something didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel like it was really me. Frustrated, I put Beehive Bespoke aside for two years, and just sewed for myself. In late 2014, I decided to rework it completely, focusing on custom and one-off pieces, inspired by my interests in gothic fashion, minimalism, bohemian looks, French revolutionary history, and the Victorian mourning era. I also wanted to bring in influences from the 1960s, 1970s and 1920s, that had been very much a part of my personal style early on. At this point, I’d also started recording and writing music again as a solo artist and pianist, in the genres of rock, classical, and dark pop. Reworking the brand proved to be a wonderful idea, as it began to sit really well with me on a more authentic, personal level.
In the summer of 2014/15, I enrolled in a Diploma of Business, with a focus on Entrepreneurship, through BSchool Australia. I knew if I wanted to grow my brand, and understand how to run a business, I needed to study, and then implement what I was learning. In early 2016, I parted ways with my record label, and dialled down my music career plans, to focus on my business goals for my brand. I decided that I wanted to take my small sewing business, and turn it into something bigger. I began studying lifestyle brands and bloggers, and decided that was where I wanted to take Beehive Bespoke. I wanted to make stuff, inspire people, and perhaps even create something that helps others.
The name ‘Beehive Bespoke’, is partially a tribute, inspired by an old haberdashery we called the ‘Beehive Emporium’, that my mum used to frequent, with a three-year-old me in tow. Beehive Emporium spanned two storeys of a massive Victorian terrace building, in the city of Bendigo, Victoria (Australia). If you drive down the main street, you can still see the old Beehive branding at the very top of the building. I have so many great memories of that place. It’s not around anymore though, closing down towards the end of the eighties.
Beehive Bespoke is made for people who are looking for something mystical, historical, and personal. When I began, I was making pieces just for myself, but this soon evolved into a shop offering custom clothing, and one-off pieces – I believe that there’s something really beautiful about knowing an item was made especially for you, and that nobody else in the world has the same thing. Eventually, I decided to also release a tank top line in the ready-to-wear space, inspired by my interest in yoga. In a more philosophic sense, Beehive Bespoke is also about an outfit, a piece of clothing, an accessory, that is a visual representation of personality. It is my sincere hope, that my pieces bring people joy, and a sense of comfort and confidence in who they are.