At the helm of creative bespoke leather-goods house A-ESQUE, Amanda Briskin-Rettig is one of Australia’s most successful fashion stories as the founder of accessories giant Mimco. 

A-ESQUE is known for its nod to traditional artisan skills, & quality use of materials with a sense of functionality within all its creations, and works on exclusive collections to be stocked at Parlour X with our Director Eva Galambos. 

X-Files speaks with Amanda and asks her how she is navigating the complexities of the global COVID-19 crisis, both personally & in her business. 

How has this crisis affected you? 

The last two months have presented an unexpected, challenging and enlightening experience on many levels.

Having everyone at home all the time has actually been a really interesting experience for the better. The evolved dynamic and the change to working from home and moving around less has been significant for me. I’ve always enjoyed working and being on the move but being forced to stay still has been a really good exercise and has brought a new-found awareness and inspiration to my work.

In a business sense, A-ESQUE has been on a journey of adaptation. Our philosophy has always been deeply rooted in controlled production, focussing on quality over quantity, with everything made by hand in our Melbourne Atelier. This has allowed us to continue producing new pieces that are relevant to the environment we are in.

The pressure came early when we closed our Collins Street flagship. It has been an interesting journey with a steep learning curve of adaptation and revolution.

Creatively, inspiration has always come from what is around me and my daily experiences. I found that in the early stages of isolation my short walks and limited exposure to the world really heightened my awareness. Being exposed to less almost made me more inspired and really forced me to think about what was needed, from that came our new Belt Bag.

How will you navigate this crisis?

The last few months has forced a constant pivot, carving out a path for both work and my family life at home. From early on, I made a point of focussing on what was in front of me, taking it step by step, making changes that were relevant for my family and work. Very quickly my morning market dash was accompanied by hand sanitiser, latex gloves, and a hands-free belt bag.

I’ve also been mindful to remain connected. Everyone, from industry to customers are navigating this in their own way and it’s been interesting to collaborate and respond – we’ve listened to what was needed and have approached it with respect while remaining light about reality.

What changes to your life will you make as a result of this experience? 

The true changes, revelations and reflections are still playing out and will unravel organically over time. We are not yet at a point of reflection and revolution. I’m keeping an open mind.
 

What advice do you have for your peers? 

The biggest lesson I have taken from this is about reaching out to people and connecting with them. I’ve spoken with likeminded peers who have shared experiences, showing their vulnerabilities, strengths, and learnings. It’s comforting to know that everyone is going through change in one form or another and I’ve realised the importance of connecting and supporting each other. I hope to take that approach forward beyond this moment in time and look forward to what that will bring both personally and professionally.

I also believe there is incredible value in being able to make decisions. They may not always be easy decisions buy my focus is on owning them and following through.

If you can use this period as a turning point, name one new year's resolution...  

There is a lot that I will take away from the last few months. At this stage I think possibly the one thing that I will take forward is to move ahead in life with greater conviction and less self-doubt, which interestingly in some ways revisits the attitude I unknowingly adopted in the early years of my career.

Shop our exclusive selection of A-ESQUE from Parlour X. 

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