Thursday 18 June 2015


Jo Hankin, left, and Rosie Flynn of Hubble + Duke.

Sewing clothes for their own children has taken Rosie Flynn and Jo Hankin on an adventure that they still can’t quite believe. The women behind the Perth-based company Hubble + Duke met through their eldest daughters, and after both took a break from their careers when they became mothers. Rosie had been working in design and interior architecture while Jo’s background is in marketing. A year after they both had their third child, they began creating clothes for their children and the following year - in 2013 - launched Hubble + Duke, creating and selling handmade leather moccasins. Within a week of going on Instagram they had 1000 followers and after just six months they were able to pay themselves a wage. Given the growth of the company, they now have a dedicated studio space and three seamstresses as well as staff to help pack all of their orders. The duo have also located an ethical manufacturer in Portugal to produce wares so they can expand into wholesaling. 

What was behind the decision to start Hubble and Duke? We were sewing for our own kids and identified there to be a gap in the Australian market when it came to handmade leather moccasins and high quality, classic children’s clothing.

What had you been doing previously? Rosie has a background in design as an interior architect and I was in services marketing. When we started Hubble + Duke our youngest had each just turned one and we were at that turning point of deciding whether to return to our previous roles or start a new adventure. Our friend Katie was also part of Hubble + Duke for the first year but has since stepped back to focus on her family this year. 

What is important to you when designing children's clothes? That they look beautiful, are comfortable and are well made from high quality materials. When looking for an overseas manufacturer we were inspired by the high quality of brands such as Tiny Cottons and Mini Rodini to look to countries with high ethical standards and beautiful fabrics such as Spain, Portugal and Turkey. We are so pleased to be working now with organic fabrics and a small, family owned ethical manufacturer in Portugal.

How do you try to differentiate your products from others on the market? We are constantly looking at our own children for inspiration (we have six between the two of us) which styles they love and what fabrics are comfortable on them. There are obviously many moc makers all over the world, but we believe our clothing is very individual and many of the items we have produced have not been done before. We have been very fortunate to have instigated collaborations with some really amazing people, such as working with Kara from Lulu Lucky on our t-shirts, jumpers and swan cushions. We are also currently working on a new fabric project with the very talented photographer Ashley Woodson-Bailey [interview].

What has been completely unexpected since starting your business? We are always amazed at where we send our products – we’ve sent mocs to over sixty countries around the world as far as Finland, Kuwait, Iceland, the UK, New York every week! The volume of orders we take to the post office test each week always blows our minds.

What is something that people often don't realise about your wares? All of our linen and leather items are handmade locally in Fremantle by our amazing team and we test everything out on our own kids. Many people don’t realise we’re based in Western Australia, especially as our customer base is worldwide.

Where do you look to for design inspiration? Instagram has been an amazing forum for inspiration and for meeting so many amazing people all over the world. Obviously our kids are a major source of our inspiration, but we are also constantly researching on social media to find new ideas and to see what is trending and what international brands are doing next.

What do consider when dressing or styling children? We try to style our shoots to be clean and crisp and to make the clothing the hero of the shot. We are lucky that we get to work with so many gorgeous babies and kids so that makes our job much easier. Rosie is amazing at styling shots for social media and just has an innate ability to know what works and will look good.

What role do you want your products to play in a childhood? We have a lot of customers that buy our teeny tiny mocs as keepsakes upon the arrival of a new baby, or for a christening, first birthday, etc. Our crowns are also really popular for birthdays and special occasions.

What was the last great children's book that you read?
Jo - My son has a dinosaur obsession so we read Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman every night. 
Rosie – My mum recently bought Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers for my girls and they love each little weird and wonderful story.

images courtesy of hubble + duke

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