Thursday, 11 February 2016

INTERVIEW | MARCELLA ORELLANA OF AUBRIE







Fashion and textiles have almost always been a part of Marcella Orellana’s life. She learnt to sew at the age of eight, and after school moved from Rockhampton to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Design majoring in fashion at UTS. Marcella graduated with honours and now teaches at the Billy Blue College of Design. However, after leaving the fashion industry to have her two youngest children, about eight years ago, she decided to start creating her own childrenswear label, Aubrie. Word of mouth helped to kickstart interest in the label, however, it wasn’t until Marcella broke her leg in August and could spend some time focussed on the label’s Instagram account that it gained a enthusiastic following. 

With her Autumn-Winter lookbook just shot, Aubrie is now preparing to exhibit at Life Instyle Sydney. Register now to attend the upcoming event that explores Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make this site possible. - NW 

What was behind the decision to start your brand? Having left the gruelling full-time ragtrade eight years ago to have my two youngest babes, I always knew that the next thing I did would be for myself. I actually started working on this six years ago but consultancy work, lecturing, broken foot and my final baby girl got in the way for a bit but once the stars finally aligned my fourth baby was born. 

What had you been doing previously? I have been a fashion designer for 25 years but always in the womenswear and youth fashion area. However, from the day my eldest daughter was born 18 years ago, I started collecting ideas as always knew I would one day have my own baby/girls label.

What is important to you when designing children's clothes? That they are pretty and practical, good quality, value for money, and where possible only made of natural fibres - despite the little bit of ironing they may require - and that they are timeless enough to be passed down over the years.

How do you try to differentiate your products from others on the market? I’m a great believer in quality over quantity so am always sourcing the best fabric and spend a lot of time perfecting the fit and details and then only produce limited quantities of each style so that they are that little bit more special. Hopefully my brand is known for its quality, the fact that each piece is designed to work back with pieces from previous collections so mums don’t feel they have to buy an entire new look each season and the gorgeous prints and colours that I spend so much time uhmming and ahhhing over for weeks on end at the beginning of each collection wanting them to be just right.

What has been completely unexpected since starting your business? My little Instagram family of customers - a whole new lot of friends - who are just so lovely and keep coming back for more for their little girls.

What is something that people often don’t realise about your wares? I receive lots of lovely messages from my customers when they receive their packages telling me how impressed they are by the fabric and quality and that they are even lovelier in real life. I guess that can sometimes be the downfall of shopping online, that what arrives doesn’t live up to expectations, so love that Aubrie appears to exceed them.

Where do you look to for design inspiration? I have always been a little bit of a collector and still have some of my own baby clothes as well as those of my eldest daughter as well as quite a few vintage pieces and patterns I have collected over the years. I love little details, muted colours as well as the classic French aesthetic. And having taught myself to sew at eight, I appreciate the old school sewing techniques of French seams, hand embroidery and pretty details all of which you’ll find throughout my collection.

What do consider when dressing or styling children? As a mum of two daughters I am a little old school and loved them to look like little girls when they were growing up - by that I don’t mean all frilly and pink as I love a little girl in blue, but like them to wear the clothes rather than the clothes wear them, so Aubrie pieces may be pretty but always practical - hence some of their names like “tree-climbing” skort and “cartwheel” camisole and definitely age appropriate.

What role do you want your products to play in a childhood? That they become their favourite piece that they wear until they just can’t anymore and with a focus on quality make and fabric they should get better with age and teamed with timeless design, after they have been handed down to younger sisters that just perhaps they will want to hang onto it for their own.

What was the last great children's book that you read?
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman bought this for my baby girl for Christmas and it's her new favourite - and mine.

images courtesy of aubrie; photography courtney king

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