Amy Smith, Ossix

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Summer is here and so is the fresh drop from local label “Ossix”. FOCUS caught up with creative goddess Amy Smith about her stunning new range.

Last time we chatted with you, Ossix was just finding its feet. Now in your sixth year with the label, how have you grown both personally as a designer and as a brand?

Hi guys. I’m sure Ossix is still finding its feet; it’s an ongoing and constantly evolving process!

I actually took a break during this time, and I felt the time was right to restart the brand roughly 18 months ago. I was lucky enough to spend some time under the guidance of David and Diane Edgerly at Softedges Sportswear. Upon their retirement, I acquired five industrial sewing machines and now have a small studio. I can manufacture my swimwear complete from start to finish.

I am also blessed to have continued access to their head production manager, Vicky, to answer any questions and keep me on track; she’s a wealth of knowledge and dear friend. Overall, I’m in a good place; I feel really supported and have all the right people around me.

The biggest area I’ve had to grow in and adapt to is in the social media arena. Since starting the first time round, the escalation of social media, Instagram in particular, has presented a whole new ball game. Social media channels present massive opportunity for individuals to start their own brands and market direct to the consumer. This has created opportunity for Ossix, but at the same time, an increased amount of competition, more than I ever imagined.

What does Ossix pride itself on?

I take pride in producing a high quality product that’s Australian designed and made. Also, being sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethically focused. I use high quality Italian fabric that contains “econyl”; this component is made 100% from post consumer waste products, such as fishing nets from the ocean floor and plastic bottles. I also use environmentally friendly packaging, recycle, support Greenpeace initiatives and am a major fan of the “seabin project”. There is a lot of fabric wastage in clothing manufacturing. A lot of our offcuts are kept and used to make cute little kids’ swimwear for another line launching next year; our wastage and contribution to landfill is minimal.

If you could dress anyone in Ossix, who would it be? 

I am honestly over the moon every time someone chooses to wear Ossix; there’s something very special seeing something you’ve created and put your heart and soul into being worn and appreciated. Someone quite iconic who keeps coming to mind when asking myself this question is Lady Gaga. I discovered her latest documentary, Gaga: Five foot two and found a whole new level of respect and appreciation for her and her music I’ve never had before. I’ve listened to her latest album on repeat many times whilst sewing my collection over the last few months. She is one talented and incredibly inspirational lady.

I especially love that she bares herself to the world; in the first scenes, she appears in tracksuit pants and no makeup. I actually had no idea what she really looked like underneath all the makeup. It’s nice to see that under her performing persona there is just a normal girl who feels the same emotions and life’s trials and tribulations like the rest of us. It’s refreshing in an age where our own identities are lost between our real selves and the false ones we project through our social media channels.

What’s the inspiration behind your latest line?

I’d have to say the motherland, Australia, is one major inspiration behind the latest line. I adore the rawness of her history, her barren terrain, luscious landscapes, the opportunity and freedom she offers, and our multiculturalism. I love using dusty, rusty, rugged and neglected buildings for our photo-shoot backdrops. I find there is something so artistically enticing about placing a beautiful lady in front of something so raw and organic; the contrast is epic.

The first drop,  “Essential elements”, is the basics line. It embraces class and style; the cuts are simple, clean and on trend. The fashion shoot for this range was taken mainly around Wauchope. The team all worked in closely with Tia from TDK creative. The imagery is bang on and unique – such a fun day.

The next drop is our high summer “Chanamee” collection. Chanamee is the Walpiri name for the Tanami desert in the northern territory and means “never die”, as some of the rock holes in this desert were thought to never run dry. We are planning this shoot with a “Burning Man” vs. “Mad Max” avant-garde theme. I’m so excited to roll this one out!

For Summer 2017/18, I’ve also drawn inspiration from Z-boys and ‘70s fashion and music culture. I feel that music and fashion go hand in hand. Music festivals have created their own unique fashion obsession; it’s next level, and I love it. I’m looking forward to seeing it all unfold during FOTSUN 2017.

From a personal perspective, what do you think the most important thing is to take into account when buying swimwear?

I think it’s all about how you feel in the garment. We have so many options and access to just about any brand via the Internet that things like comfort, fit, price, quality and service are only just the beginning in the decision making process when purchasing a product.  We now also take into account elements like company ethics, sustainability, fair trade, who made the garment, what they support, transparency, the environmental footprint the company leaves and things that the brand/company does to give back to the community. All these features and more can play a part in how we view a product and determine how we feel when wearing or purchasing a garment.

Do you have any exciting future plans for the brand?

Oh, it’s all excitement and nothing short of !!! 2018 will see a stronger focus on the wearable art line; I’m looking forward to working in more with local artist and legend, Adam Murray. I’d also like to launch a men’s line and bring back the budgie smuggler. Next year I’ll launch our cute little kids’ line, “MOKA means fun”, and eventually if all goes well, I’d like to branch out into apparel.

For budding young designers reading this interview, what advice do you have to share?

I think I’d have to say to keep it real and in perspective; go at your own pace. Be patient; dreams often take a lot of time and money and don’t happen overnight – especially when starting at the bottom. Always listen to people you admire and know the game, but don’t be discouraged if you do it differently and in your own way; there is no one “right way”. Get a mentor, be prepared to work extra hard, surround yourself with good people you love, swallow your pride, exercise, do yoga, meditate, drink water, be kind to others, don’t judge, say thank you, show appreciation, compliment more/complain less, eat well, say “I love you”, pat your own back; above all, look after yourself and your mental health.

Someone once told me, “If starting a business was easy, everyone would be doing it”; this has rung true many times since! I’ve been told on numerous occasions that I need to be more organised and focus on planning and goal setting; unfortunately I struggle in this area. I feel that if I waited until these skills were polished, I would never actually start or accomplish anything. I seem to work in the short term, often my best work is done at the very last minute, and my goal setting is more along the lines of daily to do lists. I certainly would pass this wise advice on to everyone else though, as having a plan and measurable goals on paper is proven to aid in success.

Where can our readers purchase Ossix and follow you on Social Media?

Our swimwear is available at “Sublime and Blossom” with the beautiful Corinne. Sublime and Blossom is under the Observatory building across from Town Beach. And on an exciting note, Ossix is making its debut at Stormriders as we speak. We also have an online store at www.ossix.com.au

Anyone wishing to follow us on social media can do so at Facebook @ossixswimwear and instagram @ossixswim.

Thanks Amy.

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