Inspired by Beauty, Love & Family
The popularity of boho fashion is huge right now and it only seems to be growing. Violet Fish is an Aussie Boho label that’s been around for 12 years and counting. We asked the sisters behind the label, Jill Culbertson and Eleanor Barker, to tell us more…
Tell us first about your intriguing name and where it comes from.
Violet Fish was our Grandmother: a beautiful creative soul by all accounts. She taught embroidery in David Jones in Sydney and her love and joy in creating beautiful pieces was passed on down through the generations to us, her granddaughters and her great granddaughters. Together with a wonderful team of artisans, photographers, designers and makers we are Violet Fish.
What’s the story behind your label?
We started Violet Fish 12 years ago, as a way of expressing our creativity and love of all things beautiful. We also wanted to honour our ancestors by creating beautiful women’s clothing that we also love to wear.
We aim for our clothing to gently flatter the body and inspire the heart. We want our customers to feel beautiful and confident and comfortable. Only natural fibres are used, such as cotton, linen, silk, rayon and viscose. These fabrics have superb draping properties and breathability. Many of our prints are designed by us and these range from vintage inspired to playful and modern. We are continually experimenting and offering new and different styles to our lovely customers.
Who are the people behind Violet Fish?
Violet Fish is a family business that we founded.
Jill Culbertson is a pattern-maker and Eleanor Barker specialises in fashion design and sales Between us, we oversee all aspects of the business, producing two collections each year of approximately 40 garments. Jill’s husband Paul and daughter Lily handle the accounts, factory and customer orders. Eleanor’s husband Haydn assists with factory communication, market stalls and even some branding – our logo is his handwriting!
Jill’s daughters Paris and Harriet assist with production sampling, graphic design, specs and tech packs, yardage artwork, photoshoots and everything in between! Paris’ partner, Josef Gatti is a cinematographer. He photoshoots each collection for lookbooks and campaigns, as well as shooting video content for marketing promotions.
Of course, none of this would be possible without our wonderful manufacturing team. We have worked with them from the very beginning and developed beautiful friendships.
We are constantly shooting Instagram content with the women in our family! Niece Lucy Mcpherson is always up for a street style shoot. Eleanor’s daughter- in-law, Cath Denmeade shoots amazing photos from her home in the Sunshine Coast.
Our regular lookbook model, Brittany Shemmeld who is beautiful inside and out, has designed two of the exclusive Violet Fish prints for our upcoming Summer 2020 collection inspired by Australian flora.
As a family business, we try to build genuine relationships with any collaboration or work we do. We find it difficult to use the typical Instagram ‘influencer’. Instead we have built genuine friendships with lovely people across the globe. They include artist and creative Elina in Thailand, Soozie from the Great Ocean Road and Grace in Adelaide.
What are your designs inspired by?
We draw inspiration from our everyday lives. It feels so innate and natural to find inspiration in many places and spaces. There is beauty in everything, but not everyone sees it! Whether it be the blooms and leaves on our morning walk, romantic escapes, that first dip in the ocean at the start of a summer or powerful words from a loved one.
There are also common themes and ideas that we are drawn to each season. For example, our beautiful Australian landscapes – from the mountains to the plains, the beautiful colours and shapes of our flora and fauna and the free spirit of the Australian woman.
What’s the ethos behind the Violet Fish?
We strive to create flattering, timeless, feminine clothing that shares our story. We want to make women feel confident and stylish, while still being relaxed and comfortable. We work hard to make real connections with our community. We care about our beautiful planet and try to tread as lightly as possible and are always trying to improve. Our business is built on authentic relationships with shared values. The people behind the scenes are our family and friends. Together, we are striving for a more sustainable and ethical Violet Fish.
Tell us more about your design and production process.
We design, pattern-make and construct the first sample of each garment in Australia. This allows us to get the fit and style just right, which makes the manufacturing process relatively straight-forward. We manufacture in Indonesia, which means multiple trips each season to ensure the production runs smoothly. To ease this process, Jill and some of our team have learnt Indonesian, which allows us to strengthen relationships with our friends in the factories and produce a high-quality product.
Tell us more about the brand’s values.
We are striving to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. For us, this means as little environmental damage and waste as possible and no exploitation of humans or animals. We also believe in the longevity of clothes. We design our prints and clothing to defy seasonal trends. Our styles are timeless – if it was beautiful last year it is still beautiful today.
We are proud of all the beautiful clothing we have designed over the years. We are proud of our resilience and the fact that we are still designing and making beautiful clothes with our amazing team. The connections and friendships we have made through Violet Fish will last a lifetime.
What’s next for Violet Fish?
A flagship store in Bali. Bring it on!