Inspiring Women

Isabella and Elizabeth, Spell And The Gypsy Collective

April 23, 2018

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Who is Spell And The Gypsy Collective?

The story began when two sisters joined each other in the idyllic beachside town of Byron Bay, Australia, to continue a journey they’d started together many moons ago, as children.

The sisters’ designs allude to the dreams of their Latvian grandparents who fled war-torn Europe bound for America, but for a twist of fate ended up in a dusty refugee camp in Australia; to their hippie parents, a leather craftsman and potter, who in the 1970s hopped from town to town following their own wild dreams.

Most of all, Spell’s flowing, feminine dresses, love of turquoise, florals and age-old-lace, whisper to the sisters’ own childhood. Spell taps into that sense of nostalgia, beauty and freedom that so compliments the female spirit. The vibrant, expressive part of you that emerges on vacation, or mid-strut at a festival, Spell brings that spirit to life, wherever you are.

It’s like a romantic world at Spell And The Gypsy Collective. The New HQ is a gypsy’s paradise and every inch is IG worthy!

All garments are proudly designed and sampled in the Arts & Industry Estate of Byron Bay and produced ethically in factories around the world.

The empire Isabella and Elizabeth have created is constantly evolving and growing. How did it all happen and what makes Spell And The Gypsy Collective such an amazing brand and movement…

Meet Isabella and Elizabeth.

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It’s been at least a decade since the journey started. How did it all begin Ladies?
Yeah, I moved up here to Byron in 2009, Isabella had been making jewellery for a few years but I guess it was when I moved up and we went into partnership that it went to the next level. Like so many epic brands up here, we started by selling our wares at the local markets, and we basically found customers through word of mouth. Byron’s a small town, so when someone bought something at the markets on a Sunday they wore it to the Pub that night, and there’d be all this Spell floating about… people would notice it and the word just spread.

Why do you think Spell and the Gypsy Collective has become such a cult sensation over the years?
We started making clothing because we couldn’t find what we wanted to wear, or perhaps we just wanted to wear vintage finds, and they were becoming harder and harder to find… this must have resonated with a lot of customers! But I think the real point of difference, other than Spelly’s unique designs, which have always been the cornerstone of the label, was how we told our story. And how we brought such a visual element to that storytelling. At the time blogs were just taking off, and so was social media, so our customer base was really ripe for the kind of imagery we were producing. Inspired by the editorials we saw in Grazia and Russh, we started to create our own. No one was really doing this at the time so it was very new and perfect for the new platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. We just really filled a niche and now everyone’s doing it, it’s the new normal for a brand to create an editorial every time they bring out a collection. I think when we started, the only brands doing that were maybe Planet Blue and Free People.

I’m not going to kid myself, ladies, I’m fangirling as we have this interview. I’ve been a fan for years, but not only for the pretty things but for the collective you have created. I’m all about women inspiring each other. But I feel like you have taken it to the next level.

Not only do you give back to Bravehearts, you ethically know the ins and outs of your factories and constantly have workshops inspiring young gypsies who are just starting to find their feet in this world. You have really created something special in Byron.
What is your mission?
I love this question (and thank you for the amazing words). First of all, we love Byron and the creative energy and supportiveness that is here. We feel so at home here and feel like we have grown as the town has grown, and seen so much amazingness come from this place. Our vision, and it’s an ambitious one is to become the most inspiring and conscious fashion and lifestyle brand in the world. Big I know, but I figure you’ve got to dream big!! In regards to our factories, telling their stories and bringing transparency into the DNA of Spell has been my main focus for the last 24 months. The thing is, because it comes from the top, its spread throughout our whole business. As for our mission, it’s to lead and inspire, beautifully. This is not just about posting a beautiful, inspiring photo to Instagram, but to create a better, more beautiful world (inside and out) for the future and our children. We love what we do but didn’t want it to be at the cost of someone else.

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Do you ever have sisterly fights in the office? Can it be a challenge to work together at times?
Haha – we get asked this often and we’re very undramatic, we don’t fight. I think that is the benefit of working with your sister, there is an immense amount of trust – because we’re family. And it actually works because we’re so, so different, to be honest, we work at other ends of the office so we don’t spend all that much time with each other. In fact, when we do finally spend time together we just fill each other in on what we’re doing and we both just trust that each of us has ‘got this’. Isabella trusts me with all the brand, sustainability, giving back and workplace culture stuff, and I have to trust her on the design stuff. 

What has been the best experience you have shared together through Spell and the Gypsy Collective so far?
Maybe it was the point where, only recently, we’ve been able to actually step away to have a holiday with our families and meet up in Mexico together. 8 years of solid work without annual leave or anything (even for maternity leave) can take its toll, and that was a point where you feel like you’ve built something! Spend time together with our families are the best times.

If you each had to choose one favourite piece you have created over the years what would it be and when was it from?
For me personally it is our Xanadu Boho Dress which is a favourite of many of our customers, Isabella is probably the Gypsy Queen Kimono or her Panther Jacket, she wears so much old Spell though… 

Do you have a mantra you live by?
Be kind, be generous.

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Favourite place to travel and why?
This year, we went to the US and did a road trip and I really loved Big Sur and Yosemite, both places I’ve been to many times but that was the first time I was there with my husband and kids, it was so special to share my spirit places with them!

What advice can you give any young hopefully keen to start their own label?
First of all – just start! Put yourself out there, we did it without any money (literally zero dollars) and just jumped in. If you are passionate and really believe and love what you’re doing, it will show. Second, while jumping in consider just for a moment your bigger picture – we were caught up in creating with supply and demand, and although we always chose suppliers that were small, family owned and shared our values, it wasn’t until recently we started truly considering the cost on our planet… now ethical and environmental certification is just as important to us as choosing small, family-run businesses to partner with.

Spell and the Gypsy Collective has been worn by many a famous celebrity, who has been your highlight?
I love seeing people wear Spell, and these days with social media it happens so often it’s not such a buzz as before. But I still get a total buzz when I see an older woman wearing Spell, like our mum or my friend’s mums, it means so much to know that our garments have relevance beyond our demographic.

What’s next for Spell and the Gypsy Collective?
We are continuing on our sustainability journey and are super excited to be releasing our new Spell and the Little Gypsies styles which are 100% organic or modal, a sustainable fabric! I also have another bub on the way so for me that’s as far as I can see right now!

Lastly, tea or coffee and how do you have it?
Both Isabella and I are soy cap ladies, and we have them large and first thing in the morning!

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Thank you, Isabella and Elizabeth for letting us into the Spell And The Gypsy Collective world.
For inspiring us, allowing us to live in a dreamy world, for allowing us to come on this journey with you. If you are like me, I love Spell And The Gypsy Collective IG and can’t get enough of it!

Join the Gypsy family, Shop Here.

KB xx

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