Kim Ellery’s passion for art started when she was a child, absorbing all of her mother’s artistic abilities through dress making, ceramics and print making. Her Australian label, Ellery, encapsulates a life time of experimentation, as since 2007 she has been the director and head designer. For a designer, showing your collection at Paris Fashion Week is a major feat, but as Kim had her time at the centre stage she desires more for her ever-growing brand. By using social media, Kim strives to create a conversation with her customer that’s lusting after her coveted pieces. Read below on Kim’s insight into the potential of the Australian fashion scene and to create a creative point of difference in a saturated, competitive market.
What first inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?
When I was a small girl I spent a lot of time with my mother. She was (and still is) an artist and we spent many, many hours creating together. From drawing to print making, doing ceramics and of course, dress making, she encouraged me to think laterally and challenge the status quo.
What was your first job and was it in fashion?
I first did my work experience in a bridal store in Perth. I had to sew the combs onto the bridal veils. It took time and was a precise art but I loved every minute of it. It was so satisfying to see all the veils lined up at the end of the work day.
What was your career path leading to your current position?
Before designing I worked at independent fashion publication, Russh magazine. I was part of the fashion team for four awesome years and it was here that I learnt the skills of styling and how to create a powerful image. It’s still one of my great loves.
Was fashion design always your dream career?
Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to work in fashion. My mother taught me how to sew when I was eight years of age and since then I’ve not looked back.
What was the most important thing you learnt while studying at Central St Martins in London?
How to develop an idea into a collection. I also loved learning about anatomy, which we started with, to better understand how to clothe the body.
What motivated you to create the Ellery label?
I wanted the freedom to express myself creatively and that grew into a passion to make garments that made women feel and look good.
Describe your role within Ellery?
I am the director. I own and oversee the running of the business. I am also the head designer. I conceive the design direction for the collection and design each piece.
What has been your toughest learning experience since launching the Ellery label in 2007?
It is difficult being a creative and initially I did not understand the technical business/legal/statutory obligations involved in running a business. I’ve certainly learnt a lot since I started but it wasn’t easy. I now know to hire experts in business and I rely on their couns
As head of an Australian-based fashion label, what level of support does the home-grown fashion industry deserve?
I think that Australian fashion is exciting and world class in many aspects. Sometimes I think that it deserves more recognition than it is currently given.
How do you see the future of fashion in Australia?
It’s a bright future. I hope that it continues on the same upward trajectory. I think that Australians have the potential to be world leaders in both style and industry.
How important is it to have a point of difference?
I think what is more important is to have a point of view and then stay true to it. Let it evolve and above all, focus on quality.
Would you recommend fashion design as a career path for university graduates?
If you are passionate about fashion then I would always encourage those people to pursue a life in fashion. It is a tough industry and hard work is key.
What has been your greatest career achievement to date?
Showing my collection in Paris would have to be one of my greatest achievements. Also having Ellery picked up by Dover Street Market, one of my absolute favourite stores in the world among others, was something I was thrilled to have accomplished.
After working at Russh for four years, what is your opinion of the Australian magazine industry?
I loved working at Russh, it taught me so much and I can’t wait to launch my own publication one day; hopefully soon! I think there is room for more creativity and local support in the media. I’ve noticed they get so excited by overseas stores and brands, it would be awesome if there was the same level of excitement about homegrown fashion businesses.
What role does social media play in Ellery’s marketing strategy?
Social media is incredible. It creates a direct conversation with our customers and fans. I love that with the simple push of a button we can send tailored information directly to our readers about our activities, inspiration and products. It’s awesome.
If you had to begin your career again, would you do anything differently?
I would have liked to have had a business degree before I started. I am pleased that the many, many mistakes that I have made over the past seven years have made me a better business woman for the future. I can’t wait to continue to focus on the brand’s growth as well as achieving my dreams.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now?
I hope to continue working on ready to wear collections and also couture. I also hope to be able to have other exciting projects in my life such as visual art and architecture; my other passions. Maybe a baby, too.
You can find Kym on Instagram @kymellery