Kudos! To Sally Prickett and her twin sister Bec for their gorgeous textiles-led fashion label, Colour Coded Clothing. This locally designed and produced label is just my cup of coffee – bright patterns digitally printed onto natural fibres, cut into low-waste shapes, within boxy silhouettes, manufactured right here in Melbourne.
I first met Sally in 2018 when she joined our Textile & Surface Pattern Design short course in March, claiming “I didn’t know I could draw!” After launching Colour Coded in November, I asked Sally if she’d sit down with me and chat about her creative journey and show us some of her beautiful prints.
THE INTERVIEW ~ (Abbotsford Convent)
E: You grew up in a family of four generations of dressmakers, so sewing appears to be in your blood. Has your creative journey been a direct path, or detour?
S: Well, it’s been a pretty weird journey actually. When I was younger, I used to do a lot of sewing and I designed or bought and customised clothes. I sourced fabric from Spotlight, a lot of the crafty one, especially the quilting fabrics. I remember making one of my favourite things, and I didn’t often finish them, but this one dress that I made was a big mirror print and I made it into a singlet style dress with a frill on the bottom. And I love it. I still wear it. I made it when I was nineteen, and I’ve got a good ten years out of it.
When I started uni, I studied Sports Science and found my people, hardly sewed and didn’t design anything for seven years. And then I started teaching, and although I loved it, I wanted to do something different and creative. I wanted to be by own boss and not be so stressed and under pressure all the time. Bec and I had talked about starting a fashion label four years ago, but it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that we decided to leave our full-time jobs and go down to part time employment so we could start Colour Coded.
E: So, you just tipped over your first year of business?
S: Yes, really the first year was about learning. I really wanted to do your textile design short course, but I’d never really done much drawing. Like, I’d done a bit at school but never really painted or drawn.
E: You’re a really good ‘drawer’.
S: But I didn’t even know! I look at these prints now and wonder – did I really do this, was that really me? – it’s crazy to think how much I’ve evolved. It evolved pretty quickly from starting your course, this print was designed within the first two months. Which is ridiculous.
E: What creative pursuits do you undertake, and how do you fit them in, make them a habit or priority?
S: Creative – I have to be in the mood. I’ll have a few days where I go crazy painting and drawing, and that’s it for one month. It’s all a bit sporadic. I’m also driven by the need to do some new artwork, so I try to give myself headspace and time to do that. But then sometimes it’s the opposite – I just do it when I feel like it.
E: Can you define creativity? What does it mean to you?
S: Defining it is really hard, because people can be creative in so many different ways. It’s about having the patience to tap into and explore creativity which is important. I do these classes with my friend Lynden, who is an artist, I say ‘art class’ but I just mean we get together every Tuesday to be creative. She’s great because she sees so possibility in everything. When we were younger our family did a lot of amateur theatre in and out of school. We were always singing in the car and at home.
E: Von Trapp family
S: Yeah, lil bit. I remember we did this video for my grandad in England one year where we did part of the sound of music. The whole family, even mum and dad. We were so dorky. Please don’t mention that. *Sorry, not sorry
E: Do you believe creativity and sustainability are mutually exclusive or compatible with the design process?
S: I don’t think believe creativity and sustainability have to be mutually exclusive. They can be (and should be) integrated though the design and creative process. Bec and I decided early on that it was important that our label be as sustainable and ethical as possible.
E: How important is sustainability to you, how do you incorporate it into your business and personal lifestyle?
S: Sustainability is important to us because we really care about the environment. Bec has a degree in Environmental Management and I work as an Outdoor and Environmental Studies teacher. Through our studies and teaching we have become very passionate about the outdoors, and nature, and always consider how we can minimise our impact as individuals, and business owners.
In our business we use natural fibre fabrics, cotton labels, and compostable packaging for all online orders, working towards being plastic free. We love Mister Zimi and Gorman but there’s so much of it. We were attracted to making small runs, limited edition prints to make it a bit more special and not overproducing. We don’t want to do that.
Personally, I am now way more conscious of what I am buying. I look at the tag to see what fabric a garment is made out of, where it has been made and by who. I want to stop buying man made fabrics and I want to support local designers!
E: Tell us about Colour Coded – what makes it exciting, what about it makes you light up?
S: I think it’s exciting seeing something you created come to life. It’s one thing to design clothing, but when you design the prints as well, is like another level. I love seeing people try on our clothes, it makes me really happy. Overhearing comments like, “oh, I love that print”, or “those birds are so cute” is really nice, and it’s great to have immediate feedback. I don’t identify as a designer or artist, so this is a warm reminder of what I’m doing.
E: What are some of the accredited, non-accredited courses, workshops, blogposts, books, podcasts that you can recommend people who are on a similar journey?
S: You’re not going to go wrong if you keep updating your skills. Doing your short course was a real game changer for me. I’m not sure if I was low on confidence or hadn’t really delved into it, but I genuinely thought I was incapable of learning Photoshop. I’m not good on computers. I thought – I’ll give it a go, and now I’m so comfortable on Photoshop. I created a GIF the other day – it took me two hours, but I did it. I will forever be grateful. It was really special, one of the best things I ever did. Actually doing it, we don’t often make the time to learn and develop skills, is really important.
Bec and I go to Ethical and Sustainable events, some which have been hosted by Walk Sew Good and Peppermint Magazine. I’d recommend reading Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, Bec most recently read and loved Doing & Disruptive by Lisa Messenger.
E: Is there someone you’d like to give a shout-out to?
S: We won a marketing consultation with Steph from PopNod, and she was able to identify who we were and what made us unique, this was so important. I almost cried when I read her Brand-Memo because she understood us so well and was able to articulate who were from a totally new perspective.
E: Any final words of advice? What would a takeaway be for people who are on a similar journey?
S: The thing I hate the most is when people say, ‘you sure you want to do that’, or ‘you’re going to start a fashion label, really?’ Especially from friends, people you’re really close with not being supportive or encouraging. If you’re motivated and believe in something – why not try and make a career in it? Sure, it’s hard, but we’ve also had the best year. We’ve had so much fun, and as much as there’s been difficult things (we’ve agreed to take it in turns to cry on the kitchen floor) it’s been so real and authentic. Everybody should give it a go. Who cares if you fail? You gave it a go. Be in control of your own future, that feeling is so great.
A lot of people say that the fashion industry is really harsh, and people are really mean and unsupportive. But in all of our experiences, we’ve met really amazing people that have been more than happy to help, share their knowledge and assist you on your journey. We came together with other mentees and female fashion start-ups and we catch up once a month to share advice about the business of running a label. Find people that are happy to help each other with questions and maintain the manufacturing industry with sharing contacts.
Photographer: Anthony Tosello @anth_stagram
HMU: Sarah McFadden @melbsmakeupartist
Design a Space Retail Gallery, 212 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
201 Gertrude Pop-Up, 201 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Heide Makers Market (March, 2019), 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen
Finders Keepers (May, 2019), The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve, Hickson Rd