The female founders behind your favourite Australian brands
Have you ever wondered if there was a story behind the making of the divine dress you purchased for a special occasion or the delectable cupcake you were able to devour within seconds? Be inspired this International Women’s Day and celebrate the achievement of the Australian women who founded the brands you shop with on a regular basis.
Sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmerman founded their namesake brand in Sydney in 1991 with their vision of sophisticated femininity, a passion for detail and a love for colour and print (which they have stayed true to). Zimmerman began with Nicky designing dresses and selling them at Paddington markets. The markets were an opportunity for Nicky to refine her aesthetic and to see first-hand how women responded to fashion. Following working in markets, Nicky had two pages of editorial in Australian Vogue. She suddenly started to receive orders from boutiques around Australia and could feel some real momentum. Soon after, she opened a small store in Darlinghurst. Nicky states that she “could never have achieved what (they) have without Simone… she has been a voice of reason and a constant”. In Australia and abroad, the label receives extensive editorial coverage and has graced the pages of magazines including: Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, W, Glamour, Nylon and Marie Claire.
Lorna Jane Clarkson is the most awarded Fashion Designer of Activewear and was also the first to coin the term “Activewear” in 1989. Frustrated by the dull and uninspiring range of gym-wear available for women, Lorna took matters into her own hands and started sewing her own outfits while working as a fitness instructor in Australia. Her designs quickly gained a following, with the women in her classes queuing to place orders for her custom-made pieces. In 1990 when demand had increased, she opened the first Lorna Jane retail store in Brisbane with her husband Bill Clarkson by her side. There are now more than 200 Lorna Jane stores across Australia and the United States, as well as stockists in Europe, the UK, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Lorna lives and breathes her brand’s campaign. Every day she continues to work on ideas to inspire others toward Active Living through her own practice of Move Nourish Believe and selling an active way of life.
We asked Jayde Onyekwe, owner of Cakes Under Pressure, to share the story behind her brand with us.
"Always having a passion for cupcakes since a very early age and baking throughout school, I kept my passion as a hobby and decided to do a Bachelor of Arts at 19. Getting my first job on X Factor and following with The Voice AU, I continued to cater to friends’ parties and noticed a gap in the market, with the people wanting different flavours, toppings, certain cakes and this sparked an idea. Continuing to work in TV as Boy Georges PA and moving into publicity to work on multiple festivals and with huge international musicians, the idea remained in the back of my mind. In 2018 with many years, long hours and becoming comfortable with working ‘Under Pressure’ in the entertainment industry, I turned my dreams into a reality. Cakes Under Pressure was born. A DIY style cupcake bar with endless topping options, American style spreads for fillings and lots of icings to choose from. Expanding my business for 2020, exceeded all of my expectations, none of which would have been possible without my hero, my mum."
Back in 2000,Janine Allis; a woman with no business experience- but unlimited passion and family support- opened her first juice bar in Adelaide. Her idea was brilliantly simple: make healthy living tasty and fun. Janine’s wanted to offer a unique customer experience around happy, healthy living and delicious products. After working a 100- hour week, with no money coming in for a good there years her hard work paid off. The success of the first King William St store allowed Janine and her husband Jeff to open three new sites. They then signed on for 28 leases at Westfield Shopping Centres. Boost Juice is now one of the most popular and loved juice and smoothie brands across the globe with over 550 stores… and counting.
In the living room of a small terrace in Melbourne’s Albert Park in the years 1994-1996, Jo Horgan hatched an idea; to trek the global beauty path to discover emerging makeup brands, niche fragrances and cutting-edge skin care and bring them home for Australian women to enjoy. In 1997 Mecca Cosmetica opened their first store in Melbourne’s South Yarra with an expert edit of seven iconic global beauty brands. Fast forward to 2010 and MECCA introduced a whole new beauty experience with the launch of Mecca Maxima in Melbourne Central showcasing a glam squad of over 3,000 products from 65 brands. In 2014, MECCA brands made it on BRW’s best places to work list as one of the top five companies and the #1 company in Asia.
Aje is an Australian fashion house dedicated to raw beauty, tough femininity and effortless cool. Founded in 2008 by best friends, Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest, the cult brand pays homage to Australia’s quintessential coastal and urban style through a curated mix of effortless essentials and statement occasion pieces. The duo’s coveted creations illustrate a pure reflection of their learnings and background, with Adrian’s training at the acclaimed Venetian Art School, Liceo Artistico Venezia, and Edwina’s tenure at leading fashion magazine, Russh. The pair devote each seasonal collection to the celebration of traditional artisanal techniques, craftsmanship and quality of design.
Relaunched by Tania Austin in 2008, Decjuba has become a leading privately owned, Australian retailer. As a female led organisation, employing over 1,400 women, they share a common desire to make every woman look and feel amazing. Offering fashion forward clothing at an accessible price point and delivering amazing customer experiences, through their customer centric approach, is the heart of their business.
While living between New York and Hawaii and practicing yoga daily, The Upside’s founder Jodhi Meares identified a gap in the market for activewear informed by fashion. The Upside’s early ethos laid in establishing a bold brand that catered to sartorially sophisticated and time savvy individuals who led demanding lives but cherished their training. The Upside strives towards the philosophy of a healthy lifestyle made attainable through activewear that is informed by fashion without abandoning functionality. Now, the Sydney based brand has earned its place as one of the top activewear labels in the global market without abandoning functionality or premium style.
Founded in 2000 in Sydney by Jodhi Meares, Tigerlily delivers the ultimate holiday wardrobe designed to take you away at home or abroad for any occasion. Each collection is aspirational but accessible for women who love summer, the beach and share a youthful curiosity for exploring new things. Established as Australia’s leading premium swimwear brand, Tigerlily has evolved to deliver the ultimate Holiday Edit wardrobe all-year round. After selling the business in 2007 she established The Upside.
Alice McCall’s career in fashion began at 19 when she moved to London to work as a stylist for Conde Naste. As a hobby, she began selling one-of-a-kind, silk pieces that resulted in a rapid growing fan based that included style icons Kate Moss & Alexander McQueen muse, Katy England. The brand’s debut at Mercedes Benz Fashion week in 2004 launched its successful journey to date with global fans & influencers including Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez etc. With an international eboutique, 13 boutiques across Australia & 171 wholesale stockists throughout 36 countries globally, alice McCall continues to go from strength- to- strength.
(Instagram: @sarahjane_clarke & @heidimiddletonartclub)
For almost two decades, sass & bide has been at the forefront of women’s designer fashion. Established in 1999 by best friends Sarah- Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, sass & bide was founded on a distinctive creative vision evolving from an underground phenomenon to a cult label of international fame. They presented their first seasonal collection at Mercedes Benz fashion week Australia in 2001, which was followed by over a decade of showings in London and New York. After departing from the business in 2014, they have both continued to build brands that they are passionate about.
CAMILLA was founded fifteen years ago in Bondi Beach by designer and artist, Camilla Franks. As a child, Camilla revelled in the boundless creativity and beach surroundings. CAMILLA has captured the imagination of the world with its vibrant and bespoke bohemian lifestyle offering. Encompassing her love of travel, Camilla began to follow her heart to far away cities and off the beaten path communities. There she immersed herself into the worlds of the unknown and unexpected to draw inspiration for her collections year-upon-year. Every CAMILLA piece is hand-cut, every crystal is applied with precision and every print is placed by hand, and above all, made with love.