The time has come to reboot our Misfit of the Month feature! Our directory of alternative wedding suppliers has been growing and we want to shout about some of these awesome businesses, so here's an in depth look at one of those suppliers...
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Maria Murphy and I’m the designer and owner of clothing label Sarsparilly. I live in Newcastle, Australia which is a coastal regional city about 2 hours North of Sydney. I have a beautiful family that consists of one awesome hubby and two awesome little boys. I also like chocolate, everything pink and 80's/90's pop culture.
How long have you been doing this, where did it all begin?
I had always wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 11. After High school I went and studied Fashion Manufacturing because I wasn’t able to get a place in Fashion Design (it was so cut throat! There weren’t as many places available to study it back in in the late 90’s). I had moved out of home and parents were unable to support me while at school so I stopped my studies, got a full time job, told myself I’d come back to my studies, but never did.
Sarsparilly started in 2009, but I started doing it full time in 2016. For a very long time it was a side hustle, something I did alongside my full time office jobs so I wouldn’t go spare, I had to do something creative! In 2015 my youngest was born. He has Down Syndrome and very common for children with Down Syndrome, he needed bowel surgery at birth and then open heart surgery at 9 months old. As you can imagine it was a crazy and stressful time, but after his surgery when he was about 1 and all had gone well, I knew it was time to go back to work again. I absolutely dreaded the idea of returning to my office job, but also wanted the freedom to work around my son’s many medical appointments, so I discussed with my hubby about launching my own label full time, he agreed and I started Sarsparilly the way you see it now in March 2016.
What sort of items can people buy from Sarsparilly?
We are known for our pop culture and novelty print dresses on vintage style silhouettes. So basically everything from Harry Potter inspired to Bluebirds, Sushi prints to Star Wars.
At the moment we are going through a big change as we move from made to order to ready to wear made in a factory. This has also opened our label up to stocking more styles than we currently do.
You can currently buy dresses and skirts from us, but soon you will be able to buy pants, jackets, tops and knitwear from Sarsparilly. We are also moving into wholesale which will mean our clothing will be stocked in brick and mortar stores so keep an eye out on our social media as we announce stockists.
Which of your styles/designs are most popular at the moment?
The most popular prints and dresses are definitely the Harry Potter inspired dresses. The Headlines dress in particular is insanely popular and recently we released dresses in the Hogwarts house colours which people love.
Do you have a favourite style/material/design?
My favourite dress both style and print wise is the Because I’m Happy dress which has blue birds all over it and cute bow details on the back. Who doesn’t love bluebirds of happiness? We only use cottons at the moment, but I really love all of the luxurious fabrics that are soft and drapey for their feel and look. I also love layers and layers of soft chiffon.
Are there any subcultures or wedding themes you feel your work is particularly suited to?
Definitely anybody into rockabilly or vintage style and of course geek fandoms are big, but I do have to say that we are phasing out our current pop culture prints as they are not licenced items and are moving into the officially licenced arena. We are working on our first officially licenced collaboration at the moment and it is super cute so if you like kawaii/cartoon animals or just cute things in general, this collection will be for you.
Without giving away your secrets, can you tell us a bit about your work process?
At the beginning I used to do it all myself, but now I outsource the patternmaking and sewing part so I can focus on other aspects of running the business along with the designs. So I usually have a book that I write things down in when ideas for collections come into my head, I also save images that I see that might inspire me, buy books for inspiration. I also have a look through fabrics and see if anything there inspires me.
At the moment we release dresses one by one and not in collections so I’m often inspired to design something based on a print I’ve seen. I draw it up, give it to my pattern maker, she does up a sample of my design, we tweak it and then make it in the correct fabric. This becomes our working sample, I have it photographed on a model and then we put it up for sale on the website. Everything we do currently is made to order so people place their orders and it takes 8-10 weeks for us to complete the dresses/skirts.
Now we are factory made it’s very different. I still design everything, but I’m designing a whole collection at once rather than piece by piece. The time frames are much stricter and you have to work months in advance. For us, we are showcasing at three international trade shows towards the end of the year and will be showing our Autumn/Winter19 (Spring/Summer19 in the Southern Hemisphere) collection as fashion is two seasons ahead.
These will be in shops next year, but you design them a year ahead. As a fashion designer it helps if you go to a school to learn all the ins and outs of garment construction, fabrics and how they work, but if you want to make it a business the most important thing you need is business knowledge. I’d say running Sarsparilly is 80% business, 20% creativity and design. Some days I wish it was the other way around!
Do you take custom orders? If so, what sort of customisations can be requested?
We do take custom orders at the moment, but once our ready to wear collection is launched we will no longer be able to (so get in quick!). We get a lot of people that want particular prints so we search those out for them. People can also add sleeves, have the dresses made custom to their measurements, anything can be made long or shorter.
Have you had any unusual/weird requests?
No! I’ve never had any requests where I’ve though that was weird. Sarsparilly customers have good taste :D
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I’m a creative soul so definitely the design is my favourite. I also get a huge buzz out from seeing my clothing worn by others. Every time Sarsparilly gets tagged on social media by customers wearing our clothing I run and show my hubby or sister, gives me the warm fuzzies.
Can you talk us through what you feel makes Sarsparilly stand out from the crowd?
Sarsparilly has a very clear design aesthetic. It’s fun, it’s nostalgia, it’s also as our tag line goes, we want people to ‘wear their true colours’. So if that means you wear Harry Potter, planets, unicorns and you think that reflects who you are, then you wear it, you look beautiful and you are proud to show the world. Also the vintage silhouettes are classic and beautiful, the prints are super fun. I’d be surprised if you wore one of our dresses/skirts and didn’t get compliments!
What can customers expect from you and your work?
They can expect high quality prints, beautiful workmanship and happy customer service.
Do you have any tips or advice for brides/couples planning an alternative wedding?
Do what you always dreamed! And also make sure you get a great photographer.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for this opportunity! I love seeing all of the wedding ideas on Misfit Wedding. I now regret not having a unicorn wedding after seeing your blog post!
Ah, you've had a sneak peek at our unicorn wedding ideas have you?! :D
Thank you so much for telling us all about Sarsparilly, it's been wonderful!