Designer Profile – Sarah Makes These

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Last year I came across SARAH MAKES THESE and instantly fell in love with the label.

Quirky, fun and definitely statement jewellery, it was the colour combinations, textures and sculptural shapes that caught my eye.

I ended up buying a bangle and it’s still one of my favourites!

The brains behind the label is Melbourne Designer Sarah Armitage who started SARA MAKES THESE as an outlet for creativity.  Thanks to her background in Ceramics, and Visual Merchendising, Sarah has an incredible eye for form, texture and colour and mixes these elements together perfectly to create interesting, affordable pieces.

You can buy her quirky creations over at the SARA MAKES THESE Etsy store, and check out my interview with Sarah below.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and how “Sarah Makes These” came about?

So much of the SARAH MAKES THESE aesthetic stems from the many facets of the creative ventures of my past.

In my university days I studied Ceramic Design but found it quite tricky to fit the mould of potter at the wheel that the lecturers had in mind for me, preferring instead to create sculptural forms from clay. I battled to get my point across and was so relieved to complete my degree that I decided, as my right of passage as a young independent, to travel. I spent most of my two years abroad in London after meeting my now husband, who is English, in Paris early on in my adventure. Living in London proved very fortuitous as I found my creative calling in a job in Visual Merchandising at Habitat. Fast forward 14 years.. A marriage, two kids, an extended maternity leave and a plethora of experience in Visual Merchandising with Habitat and back home in Melbourne with Country Road, I found myself searching for a new outlet for my creativity. In late 2013, SARAH MAKES THESE was established by chance from humble beginnings with a range of necklaces and bracelets designed for a local fundraising event. The pieces were so well received, I decided to secure the opportunity and start it as a formal small business.

How would you best describe “Sarah Makes These” aesthetic, and customer?

I believe the quirky, easy to wear nature of my pieces is not limited to one type of customer and would never propose to narrow my target market by suggesting otherwise. The collection was never supposed to be too serious and as such I have stuck by my one core principle since SARAH MAKES THESE began. That is that the price point for each piece is reasonable enough that most people would not have to think to hard about purchasing a necklace or bracelet or both without feeling as though it was going to break the bank.

What inspires your design and creative decisions?

My designs are an extension of my Ceramic and Visual Merchandising knowledge; breaking with tradition by using individual materials in a flamboyant manner and yet quite structured and stylised. I am also very drawn to finding inspiration from the juxtaposition of unique colour combinations within a diverse range of mediums; fine art, homewares, fashion and nature.

How would you describe your personal style?

Contrary to my work, my style would be considered conservative but not strictly following any one formula. However, there are times when colour and flamboyance play a role in my appearance.

What are 5 essentials in your wardrobe?

I recently purchased a pair of black trousers from Country Road; tailored with a slight tapered silhouette and fitted cuffs.. They are on high rotation this season as they are so comfortable and versatile.
In Summer I live in dresses, usually knee length and cinched in high at the waist with a belt or cord.
A newly acquired donkey coloured leather jacket from Husk is going to live with me forever.. And of course, improve with age.
Anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m the cardigan queen; long cosy ones in the cooler months and shorter more fitted when it’s warm. I own way too many to choose a favourite!
Of course.. No outfit would be complete without donning a piece or two of SARAH MAKES THESE jewellery!

What is the best place to shop in  Melbourne?

You can take the girl out of Country Road but you can’t take Country Road out of the girl!

Tell us about some of the people who inspire you and why?

Although I’m two years her senior, I have always looked up to my sister. Despite her effortless style and overall “gorgeousness” that I try to emulate at almost every opportunity, as a partner in my business she keeps me in line and brings focus to an otherwise chaotic work environment.. She is my balance.

Designer and artist Jai Vasicek has a truly remarkable and inspirational outlook which I greatly  admire. I once read a quote from him, the basis of it went a little something like this.. “I always did things for myself, because they were the things I believed in. If others happened to like them, well, that was a bonus”. Wise words that I try to save as a mantra when needed.

 If you could design a product for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you design?

I would love to design a large installation piece that would stretch me in my creative process and push my boundaries and structured design philosophy. It would have to be constructed from electrical cord of course, or some form of rope. If it could take me back to my London roots and by displayed at the Tate Modern.. Amazing!

What are the top 3 resources, which you turn to for inspiration?

 Instagram is my best friend and my worst enemy. It can bring me to my lowest point when my creativity seems hopeless and the competition appears to be streets ahead and yet at other times I live for it and get a total buzz from what my peers are achieving.

We are so fortunate to live in Melbourne. Every time I step outside my front door, even if it’s to walk my kids to school I can stumble upon something fascinating I’ve not seen before. The camera on my phone is jam packed with images that capture ideas and inspiration for the future.

I love to shop! I can take my biggest inspiration by simply browsing through my favourite fashion stores like Gorman and Mister Zimi to get ideas for colour and pattern, or the smaller boutiques like Royal Order of Nothing and Feathered Arbour for styles and form. And don’t even get me started on how much of a wonderful resource Spotlight is.. I need me some shares in that place!

 What is next for the label? Where do you see the brand going in the future?

Opportunities are knocking for SARAH MAKES THESE in 2016. So far it’s been a very busy year, kicking off with my range being featured in the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and a quarter page advertorial in the Frankie magazine directory. I have just launched a new ‘Twisted Collection’ and look forward to the opportunities the upcoming Life InStyle trade show and branching out into interstate markets will bring. I don’t like to look too far beyond the next few months, perhaps to my detriment, but I am excited to seek out new ventures as they present themselves.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start his or her own business in fashion accessories? 

 In the creative world of today, where social media can stifle us with such high expectations of success, everyone striving to compete and outdo and copy others to get ahead. I have learnt to drown out the external hullabaloo and listen to your own white noise.

Throughout the many milestones, personal and career, in my life thus far, I have always thought there have been way too many people giving way too much advice that ends up being a jumbled mess of conflicting opinions that I didn’t really ask for in the first place. I like to think the best judgements are the ones you make yourself. Go with your instincts.. You will always learn more that way.

Images by Sarah Armitage, Lucas Dawson Photography and Jessica Apap Photography

  • What amazing pieces! I’m loving them and I might just have to invest in one of Sara’s pieces. x

    • They are so different and fun!
      I always get asked where my Sara Makes These bracelet is from! I love it!