Rachel Ussher for HEANDHERTHELABEL

River Bennett (Photographer River Bennett)

She is a Sydney girl living in Melbourne. Mother to Florin and wife to Dean. She is the founder of HEANDHERTHELABEL which has taken Australia by storm. Now the doors are opening globally. Her name is Rachel Ussher and this is her story.

1. Has fashion design always come naturally to you or has it been a learned art?

It's actually always come pretty naturally to me. When I was in primary school I used to see things in magazines that I wanted (but couldn't afford) so I would have a crack at sewing them up myself.

My Nan encouraged me and was a pivotal voice for me to pursue fashion. She had this massive cupboard full of fabric and all her old dresses from when she was young and she'd let me study them and then have a go at sewing them up.

After school I studied Fine Arts at COFA and majored in textiles. I got my first job with a textile wholesaler making swatches to give out to all the designers who came in and looked at the range. I remember sitting at the showing table with a designer and showing her the fabric and deciding in that moment that I wanted to be on her side of the table. 

From there I started my own label! I went to night TAFE to learn pattern making and did a business course, but it was crazy. I was way out of my depth. I did the label for about 1.5 years and learnt on the fly. My products made it in a few stores, but then finally I came to my senses and realised I needed commercial experience if I was going to get anywhere. From there, I worked at Fleur Wood, Jigsaw, One Teaspoon, Ladakh & Huntingbird.. Each job was completely different and allowed me to see really different sides of the industry - everything from small boutique to large commercial companies. 

2. You recently moved your family (while you were pregnant with your first child) from the heart of Sydney to the city of Melbourne. Tell us about that.

It's been really fun. Huge. But amazing! 
We moved about a year and a half ago when I was 6 months pregnant with Florin. It felt as though we'd just gotten here, then Florin came along (2 weeks over due and in the peak of summer). I remember that night of the day she was born - Dean had gone home for the night and my hospital room overlooked the city. I sat there rocking my brand new little love looking out over my new city. It was overwhelming but wonderful.
We have come to love Melbourne. It's got such an amazing energy and vibrancy. It's super creative, full of amazing architecture & musicians. And it feels like home. 

3. You gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Florin and also gave birth to a business. Wasn't life crazy enough with a newborn? (haha) What made you want to do a kids clothing line?
Haha, yeah crazy is right! Having a baby, especially your first, is life changing and amazing, but after a few months I found that the creative, driven, business part of myself wasn't stimulated. That, and the fact that I couldnt really find any kids stuff for Flo that was simple and cool, but also not too expensive and had to be bought overseas. 

So I started planning to put together a few pieces. It then it morphed into a whole range. Ha. It was a massive stretch at first, working whenever Florin was asleep and not having much time to rest myself. But I honestly love what I do, so eventually I came to a place where I didn't feel the stretch as much, and it became more manageable.

4. HEANDHERTHELABEL is expanding quite quickly and your line is becoming more and more familiar to mums and stores across Australia and now globally. What has been some of the challenges of this recent growth?

It's kind of like what I was talking about above. As the business started to grow, I needed to then grow my capacity to maintain it. I worked on the business completely independently - no employees - which isn't glamourous. It means me working during Flo's nap times.  Because I work from home it also becomes a struggle sometimes to switch off from work. I keep a fairly clean line between home life and work life. I definitely haven't arrived at this balance yet. There's been many days that Flo's tugging at my legs and crying while Im trying to answer an email, or pack just one more order. Haha, but that's life right?! Some days are a win, and others are a little trickier. It doesn't mean that life or work is a "failure" that day - it's just a reminder to try keep things simple and maintain the balance. 

5. Florin is your beautiful baby girl, full of 1yr. old energy. How do you spend time investing into her and also investing time into your business?

Sounds obvious but there is a huge shift when your baby becomes a toddler. Your day looks really different from being able to chill at cafes or museums with a baby sleeping in the pram.

Florin has heaps of energy and is a huge adventurer. She has no limits, which I actually really love that about her. But it's meant that I have to approach my days and my design times differently. I actually look for inspiration everywhere now. It's amazing how when you're in a pretty steady routine of creating, inspiration pops up more clearly for you. Inspiration these days comes from anywhere and everywhere.

Florin is also a huge inspiration, without that sounding corny. She's has such a unique little personality and I try to pull that same spirit into my ranges. I design the prints based on her character - random, quirky, adventurous. If the print doesn't represent her well, then it doesn't make the cut for the range.

6. When things get crazy what do you tell yourself.

Firstly, I tell myself to go have another coffee! Then I sit down and usually write out a list of what I actually need to get done. I'm very visual and these lists help me.  More often than not it's easy to get swept up in the momentum of everything and feel like I've got more to do than what I actually do. By making a list it helps me focus on the basics and pinpoint the key things to do/change/implement.  I usually find that once I get the first thing done, then my perspective changes and the tasks ahead don't feel as overwhelming. Keeping it simple and sticking to the essentials is the key for me. 

7. Tell us about your latest range. And what's in store for summer.

I've called the summer range Summer Haze. It's an ode to long summer days at the beach, toasty summer evenings spent with friends & a bit of double denim goodness! 

The colour palette is really clean, featuring crisp whites, navy, summer greys mixed back with light blue denim, and sunset peach colour. 

I'm pretty sure that I say this every season, but this one is actually probably my favourite so far!

8. For mothers who are have had a creative concept brewing in their hearts, what is the best piece of advice you can give as they pursue it and make it a reality.

I'd say to run for it head on. Don't focus on the risks, and change your mentality on 'failure'. Failure is actually a brilliant opportunity to learn from your mistakes, stand up, dust off and keep running with a more focused and clear direction and understanding of what your trying to achieve. By no means should failure be negative.

9. Recent Inspiration comes from ... 

In a general sense I've been really inspired at the moment by amazing business women and men around me. Gleaning knowledge from them has helped open up my mind and stretch me to think in a bigger and better way than I have been. It's given me fresh perspective on everything in terms of the way I design, collaborate with people and approach my business. 

10. You couldn't live without ...

Coffee. And my little fam bam. They are cool and keep me happy. 

11. My wardrobe consists of ... 

T-shirts, jeans and Converse. 

12. I always wanted to ... 

Be a archaeologist. I love the idea of treasures and mystery!

13. I feel good when ...

I get enough sleep. I seriously love sleep. It's worth more than gold in my opinion. 

14. My mother always taught me ...

Be forgiving. 
Never have I ever met another person with such a large capacity of forgiveness as my Mum.

15. I believe the fashion industry for kids is ...

Super exciting!! I'm loving doing kid wear because there is a real ease with it. Kids don't take themselves seriously, so there is heaps of room to experiment and do something new and fresh! 

 

For more info head to:

heandherthelabel.com

Insta:

@heandherthelabel