As I’ve mentioned time and time again, one of the things I absolutely love about this venture is how many passionate people I’ve been introduced to one way or another because of it. Katie is one of those people.
Her designs at SJ Lingerie stand apart for the feminine ways she integrates floral lace and mesh – her signature ‘raw’ bodysuit looks spectacular on pretty much everyone, and is out in a white colourway now as well.
How did you get started in the lingerie making business?
I honestly just fell into it. I have always been into fashion and have done some industrial sewing courses and fashion illustration courses after completing my university degree in Psychology. I was just in the beginning stages of starting my other label Silk Laundry and I was approached to buy a pre-existing lingerie label. I am not usually one to say no to an invitation so I took a chance and made SJ Lingerie what it is today.
What is the core of why you create lingerie, the mission, so to speak?
I just want to make women of all shapes and sizes feel good about themselves. I hope to design pieces that are cool and feminine, yet comfortable enough to wear every day.
What is your favourite aspect of lingerie?
I love that it is your own little secret and can bring out so much confidence in a woman.
What is one piece of advice you would give to every woman?
You are a “real” woman no matter what your size or shape so don’t compare yourself to others. If you are kind, generous and honest you will always be beautiful.
How do you define sexy?
I think confidence is sexy on everybody.
What are you most proud of professionally?
That is a hard question. I am proud that I took a risk. I am proud that I am still around. I am proud that I have supported the Desert Flower Foundation since day one even when we really financially struggled. I am proud that I was able to use the glorious Sonya Esman for a campaign. I am also proud of how much I have learnt along the way.
What would you say are your favourite materials to work with?
Silk, tulle and beautiful interesting lace.
Favourite colours (to work with)?
I am quite basic and I love black, white and nude. Yet every so often a certain color blows my mind and I can’t get it out of my head. At the moment it’s egg yolk yellow (free range.. the color is much more rich than caged eggs).
When are you at your most confident?
I feel my most confident when I know I have been a great mother to my son and have been kind and generous to the people I am surrounded with. All a bit mushy but when I am a terrible person… I know it and I kick myself in the guts. On a less sentimental note, if I am feeling lousy Nars velvet matte lipstick in “Red Square” helps.
What is an indulgence or luxury you couldn’t do without?
Marvis Jasmine Mint toothpaste. It’s is the most feminine toothpaste I’ve ever tried and I cant go back to the regular stuff.
How do you relax?
I find relaxing extremely difficult. My mind is always working. I have recently started springboard diving again, it was the only sport I ever really did as a teenager. Diving is so physically challenging that it seems to be the only time I really stop thinking about SJ and Silk Laundry. Red wine helps too!
What did you want to have as a career when you were young?
What didn’t I want!! Firefighter, Nun (for real), Designer, Actress, Lawyer, Psychologist, Motorbike Postie, Acupuncturist.
Favourite piece from your own collections?
I actually wear the Raw bra nearly daily with my silk slip dresses. The slightest bit of applique peeks out from the dress and it just adds a little more interest. I am working on a new bra at the moment though that is posing many difficulties but I think when we perfect the design it will have the ability to transform so many outfits.
Favourite piece from another designer?
I have an I.D Sarrieri bodysuit that doesn’t get a lot of wear but I cherish it. I also have a fantastic pair of Else highwaisted briefs that I adore. They are so comfortable yet look great.
What was the most difficult part of getting started on your own collection?
For me it is trying to be everything at once. I love design and lace and fabrics, but I find spreadsheets, math, accounting very difficult. I also work predominately on my own so I am talking to suppliers every day, dealing with banks, insurance, customer emails, instagram, DHL, Australia post, Wholesale accounts, website design and glitches. Little things seem to take a very long time too and everyday I have so much to do that I have to seriously prioritize. My lists of daily tasks seem endless.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake around 5:30am and check my emails and instagram before my son wakes. As soon as he wakes up it’s breakfast, make his lunch and get him off to childcare. I grab a coffee on the way home from dropping him off at “school” and get down to business. I try to get all the orders that came in overnight done straight away as our courier from overseas needs to be booked before 9am.
Right now I am working on the new collection for SJ so we are having design meetings weekly. I am beginning to release regular drops of my Silk Laundry collection so I am often checking designs, fit, colors.
Then it’s emails, meeting stylists, models, planning photoshoots, spreadsheets and developing the website further. Most days I will work till about 5:30, forget that I don’t have food in the fridge, pick up my son from school and take him to Japanese or pizza for dinner. Then it’s bath, book and bedtime.
I’m actually so tired I fall asleep in next to my son in his car bed most nights and wake around midnight. I check emails again, shower and go to sleep in my own bed. Then it starts all over again.
Katie! I’m exhausted just reading this. Thank you for continuing to do your lovely work, and for not choosing to be a nun!
A note to you lovely ladies and gents reading this, this interview is from a few months back, and Katie’s new collection for SJ is in the process of rolling out…and I should have a bit of a sneak peek for you, but shush, that’s coming up soon.
Edited for clarity, length and grammar. Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of SJ Lingerie.