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This Is Northern New South Wales

Isabella & Elizabeth – Spell

I may be slightly biased, but who wouldn’t be if one of the Spell sisters was your fiance?

Anyway, I’ve always been intrigued by how sisters Elizabeth (my fiance) and Isabella came to be running Spell in Byron Bay’s Industrial Estate, a wonderlust world of feathers, leather and turquoise.

In the 1960s and 70s their father was a leather craftsman and their mother was a potter, painter and wove brightly coloured threads on a loom. It seems only natural that the sisters would end up here, in Byron Bay, living a creative passion that flows from their family.

So I sat them down one day, pressed record on the video camera, and got a very special insight into two sisters living their dreams…

Elizabeth/Isabella,how did Spell come to fruition for both of you?
Lizzy: I was down in Sydney going through a big life shift, I asked ‘Spelly’ if I could go into business with her and it was perfect timing. We’d done heaps of designing together when we were young so it was easy to slip right back to that creative place.

What draws you both to feathers and Native American inspired creativity?
We’ve both always had a love for feathers and leather, and then in 2001 I was living in London and discovered a dark, cave-like little shop called Wild Ones. This discovery was the beginning of an obsession with all things Native American, tribal, turquoise, leather – you name it!

What about your Mum and Dad, were they the creative types? Do you think what you do know came from them a bit?
Dad was a leather craftsman in the early years, and perhaps that inspired our love of leather – but mum was the overtly creative one. We were surrounded by pottery, weaving, painting and even photography – our bathroom was a makeshift dark room. So creativity flowed from within, it was natural to finally weave it into our every day lives as adults.

How do you find Byron Bay for creativity and running a business? It seems like there is quite a lot of support through your peers?
That’s the best thing of all – being surrounded by creative people! Our studio and boutique is out in the Byron Industrial Bstate and we’re surrounded by all manner of artists and creative folk! Spell’s best friend Terry of Buffalo Girl is a constant source of inspiration – then there’s the girls across the road at Tallow and Goddess of Babylon. We’re all in it together and inspire each other. It’s very special.

For someone just getting into fashion and starting a label, what’s your 5 top tips for the newcomer?
Choose your favourite label or enterprise and offer to go and work for someone for free for a few weeks! We had a work experience girl come in last week and we’ve already tried to hire her full time! It’s a great way to learn the business and find and build on your own creative talents.

To check out more from Spell, visit their website or blog. They are also just a wee street away on the CG business network.