Travel and practicality for women in the bush inspires clothing business.
By JACINTA CUMMINS; Western Downs Farmer, March 29, 2018
SALLYJEAN Sattler could sew by the time she was in grade 5 and designed her own formal dresses all through high school, but it was only two years ago that she decided to take the leap and use her love of fashion and design to start a business to dress women in the bush.
After travelling Australia, the third generation Wandoan woman wanted to design a clothing range that was practical for country living but elegant enough to wear out in the city.
Late at night she sat down to start drawing her designs and Gypsy & Jean was born.
“I was working shift work but I was missing my country roots so this was something to balance my life and give me that creative outlet,” SallyJean said.
“I’ve done a lot of different things throughout my working life from beauty therapy to fitness training to quality assurance but as I was getting older, I wasn’t getting that sense of achievement that I was chasing so Gypsy & Jean gave me something to work towards.”
The brand’s clothes are inspired by the Australian landscape and the women who live there.
“My grandmother Dell James and my mother Kate Sattler really helped influence my style growing up and the designs are all named after my sister Shannon and my cousins,” Sally Jean said.
“My other grandmother Margaret Sattler helped me perfect my sewing skills.”
Most of the clothes are made out of natural fibres like linen and cotton with an emphasis on classic cuts to flatter a wide range of shapes.
They can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, something that SallyJean believes is essential for women living in the bush.
To showcase the versatility of the clothes, she has women from all walks of life as her brand ambassadors.
There are four ambassadors including a miner, a business analyst in the tech industry, Miles agribusiness banker Stephanie Logan and Guluguba grazier Tammy Stiller.
For Tammy, applying to be an ambassador was not only about beautiful clothes, but also supporting SallyJean in her dream of empowering women to look and feel their best.
“I was excited when I put on the first dress because it was so practical, but it was very feminine and it was something I could wear all day from school drop off to a nice afternoon tea,” she said.
“The clothes really offer that flexibility which we need out here because we’re often on the road travelling big distances so your clothes need to be able to get you through a different range of occasions.
“Sal’s family was one of the first I met when I moved here and it’s been so lovely to watch her grow from a little girl into a young woman who’s following her passions.
“That idea of following your arrow and being true to yourself really resonated with me because when I was going to high school on the Sunny Coast, I never expected to end up out here and be doing what I’m doing, but life is a journey and if you follow your heart, you’ll end up where you’re meant to be and for me, that’s out here.”
Gypsy & Jean’s first collection of 14 pieces was launched in February with a second line set for release in September.
“I was overwhelmed with the support I received from a lot of people about starting the business, it didn’t really matter if they were buying clothes or not, it was so unexpected and lovely,” SallyJean said.
But as any small business owner knows, there are hurdles to be overcome in the early days.
Due to a lack of competitive manufacturers, SallyJean designs the clothes here but travels to Bali to get them made.
“I’d love to eventually be able to have them as Australian made and owned, but starting out it wasn’t really an option,” she said.
It’s this lack of choices which is driving SallyJean’s business because she wants to change that.
“My aim is to provide more opportunity in regional Australia so that’s where positions like the ambassadors come in and stocking in smaller shops in country towns,” she said.
“The message I’ve really learnt from starting Gypsy & Jean is that if you have something in the back of your mind, stay true to yourself and keep working to make it happen and you can achieve it.”