By Kate Foreman
With local community support, Lucindale designer Hayley Smart is making a name for her label The Eighth Letter.
Launching in August 2016, the Eighth Letter might be new to the fashion industry, but has already secured stockists in Australia and New Zealand.
With a background in visual communications and marketing, Hayley credits the invaluable experience she’s had working locally, her strong family support network and the local community for the success of her business venture.
“I had always wanted to do something in fashion for myself,” says Hayley. “I had an awesome job, that I loved and I worked with amazing people, but the opportunity to do this for myself came up and it really came down to timing – it was now or never.”
The choice to stay in the region was an easy one for Hayley and has proven to be a smart way to grow her business without the overheads.
“I do everything from designing to accounts, packing boxes to sorting freight, but when it comes to photographing my range and setting a shoot up or creating a look book I use talented locals,” says Hayley.
“We are so lucky to have so much talent right in our backyard, I work with local photographers, make-up artists, stylists and hairdressers.
“Our region is aesthetically beautiful as well, so there really is no need to look for locations else where, whether it be Mt Gambier’s Blue Lake or the beautiful coastline of Robe.”
Donating to local fundraisers and charity events is also important for the Eighth Letter as it not only has great exposure for the company it is also a “wonderful” way to give back to the community.
The Eight Letter’s range is relaxed and wearable, with monochrome separates, knitwear, jewellery and accessories. Pieces are sourced from Vietnam, China, India and Indonesia, which means Hayley travels often to work with overseas factories creating the designs and checking out samples.
“At the moment I am only doing a summer and winter range, so I roughly have an idea of a theme I want to follow and the designs come from,” she says.
“I follow fashion and keep up to date with trends, which helps me to design pieces I like to wear in the hope that other women will love to wear them too.
“I am very conscious of my designs being appealing to all different ages, so something I would wear would be styled or worn differently to the way, say my mum would wear it, but that we could both have that piece in our closet.”
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