Creating gorgeous statement pieces that reflect the salty, sunkissed lifestyle that inspired them, Cloth & Hide + Moon Child is one of the Sunshine Coast’s most coveted brands. Here we speak to self-taught designer, Moon Lane (yes that’s her real name!) about growing a brand from scratch, the importance of slow fashion and the secret to her success.

Writer: Rebecca Walker, The Conscious Wordsmith

When and why did you launch Clothe & Hide + Moon Child?  

I launched Cloth & Hide and Moon Child in November 2015. I wanted it to be a brand that highlighted the beauty of natural fabrics reminiscent of their origins with classic shapes and didn't rely too much on trends. I wanted Moon Child to be pieces that could be passed from siblings to younger siblings or cousins and really be timeless, heirloom pieces.

I wanted Cloth & Hide to be essentially the same – timeless and classic but with an edge for people that buy forever pieces but also appreciate the details that give our pieces a point of difference. We love open back details, reversible tops, cut-out’s and pretty sleeve details, staple pieces that stand out.

You grew up on the Sunshine Coast. Were you always a fashionista or did your interest in fashion blossom later?

When I was a kid we had an ancient sewing machine we bought from an op shop and I loved playing around with it and making things. When I had my own family, I would make boardies for my boys when they were little and pieces for myself. I wouldn't say I was a fashionista but I have always loved quality fabrics and making practical and beautiful things from them.  

Tell us about your design background. (Are you a qualified designer or self-taught?)

I’m self-taught. Everything I have learned is by experimenting by making things. I love the idea of making something from scratch!

What is the signature style of your brand?

Our signature style is classic, timeless pieces with an edge. Inspired by our coastal lifestyle, we always use natural fabrics and embrace statement pieces rather than staple basics.

You use sustainable plant-based textiles in your designs. Where do you source these materials and how do you ensure they are eco-friendly?

We use only fabrics that will biodegrade and turn back into soil rather than synthetic fabrics that are essentially plastic and add to the burgeoning problem of landfill and pollution caused by micro fibres and micro plastics. We would love to use exclusively organic fabrics but unfortunately we would have to charge a lot more and we are sensitive to what is affordable for our customers. 

Of course we are always looking for ways to improve our sustainability and are always working with our production people to source commercially viable eco friendly fabrics. We like to use fabrics in their raw form and quite often will choose fabrics that still have the qualities of the material they are made of. For example, our linens quite often still have the flax fibres visible, are a more natural unbleached and minimally processed white.

Your brand revolves around a ‘slow fashion’ practice and all pieces are hand-sewn in Bali. What are the benefits and drawbacks of small-batch production?

Slow batch, small production can be tricky as you can receive inconsistencies in product but our home seamstresses are highly skilled. If we do receive something with a fault or needs adjusting, we will always repair or alter it if we can. We try not throw to anything away. The benefit is a beautiful, unique product and our customers appreciate the hand made quality of our pieces.

Tell us about your dyes and prints.

We design our own prints. Our tees are printed locally in Maroochydore and any hand dyed pieces we dye ourselves using non-toxic Rit Dye.  

Does the boys range mirror the same aesthetic as the girls, or does it have a different vibe? 

Our boys range is quite classic and neutral apart from some hand-dyed tie dye. Our girls range is a bit more varied as there are more options and opportunity to be a bit more whimsical and pretty but still retaining our ethos of classic, forever pieces.

You have 2 children. How do you balance your business and motherhood worlds? 

The mum guilt is real!  My boys were 3 and 9 when I launched the brand, and when I first opened the shop there was no balance. I worked 7 days a week in the shop. Now we are more established. I have beautiful staff who take care of the shop for me, so I can be more flexible and can drop my boys to school or work around the family schedule. We also have more family time on the weekends nowadays. My boys are 10 and 16 now, so are a bit more independent and are used to me working a lot, but I always try to do fun things and spend quality time with them when I can.  

What is the secret to your success? 

I have a small team of amazing girls that are helping me manage the retail side of things and help me with social media. This leaves me with more time to focus on design, production and the back end work that goes in to running a business. 

We always try to give our customers an enjoyable retail experience in our relaxing and carefully curated store. Our beautiful customers are what makes us a successful business. We have long-standing loyal customers and our feedback is that our pieces are good quality; last a long time; and are worn over and over, year after year. 

Do you have a motivating motto that gets you through the harder work/mama days? 

Some days I really need to remind myself that I have got this! It’s stressful and exhausting sometimes, but it’s worth it and I’m so lucky to have a job that I love. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I guess my motto is “Back yourself!”

Cloth & Hide + Moon Child is stocked at The Mumsie’s retail cottage in Noosa. For more information about the brand visit https://clothandhide.com.au/