Shelley from WA describes herself as a “low maintenance, jeans and t-shirt” kind of girl but she also loves an occasion to dress up and making quality racewear for those who want to stand out at the track. Her ‘Live Love Race’ clothing designs are always striking and worn by fashion lovers Australia wide. Her unique use of prints and patterns make each dress individual and fun to wear which makes them perfect for competing in Fashions on the Field (FOTF). We caught up with Shelley to find out how she comes up with her ideas and what goes into running your own business.

Q1. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in Dressmaking.
I have always been interested in dressmaking from a young age, I began by sewing clothes for my barbie dolls from the off cuts from the garments my mum happened to be making at the time. Dressmaking runs in my family, right back through the generations, to my Great Grandmother. My Nan, my Mum, my Aunty and my Sister, have all been keen dressmakers for most of their lives.

The skills that have been passed down to me, along with my 16 years of making and altering thousands of garments, have been very valuable, enabling me to create beautiful quality clothing for Live Love Race. For many years I designed Ball Gowns and Wedding Gowns however, I felt limited by the restrictions this type of dressmaking placed on me. I couldn’t unleash my creativity and make something out of the ordinary as it just didn’t fit the formal wear profile. It wasn’t until I designed some custom outfits for Bunbury Cup, that I discovered my passion for race wear.

Q2. Your pieces are easily recognized in a FOTF line up, how would you describe your clothing designs, how did you establish this unique style?
I’d say this unique style has evolved from my love of colour mixing, printed fabrics, textures and a bit of an addiction to symmetry. I would describe my designs as high quality, classy and bold with a little touch of crazy.

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Q3. What are 3 interesting facts about yourself that your customers don’t know?
I have two gorgeous sons Curtis and Eddie ages 9 and 6. I love birds, so far I own a weiro, a love bird, a few budgerigars and hope to add some chickens to the list soon. I also run a busy Bridal and Formal Wear alterations business in between designing, sewing and running Live Love Race.

Q4. Do you have any advice for ladies ordering their outfits from you for the first time (what is the usual process)?
Recently we have launched a website to make it much easier for ladies to shop with us. We offer a Ready to Wear category, where women can purchase a one of a kind garment that is ready to ship or they will be able to take advantage of our new service called Create First Place.  Create First Place allows our customers to choose a design from the range, select their size, colour choice and an additional option such as sleeve or neckline. Once their custom order is placed, we will construct their unique dress right here in our studio.

Q5. What designers do you love and why?
I have mainly worked in Formal wear for most of my career, so I admire Haute Couture designers such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. I love any high end designs made from quality exquisite fabrics, from around the world.

Q6. With many women buying items made overseas or from sites like ASOS what can we do to promote local companies and encourage people to buy Australian made?
I think we need to get more people talking about the Australian Fashion Industry! It’s about making customers aware of the benefits of buying a quality Australian made and designed garment. Choosing Australian made means you are choosing to support local employees who work for these labels and therefore, supporting the Australian fashion industry.

Q7. What is the hardest thing about being a fashion designer/dress maker? What kind of hurdles have you faced in setting up your own business?
To be honest, the hardest thing for me about designing/dressmaking is finding the time to sit down and focus on drawing up new designs then getting them from a sketch to a finished product. It’s a long process from paper to garment, drafting a pattern, cutting fabrics, interfacings, sewing, pressing etc.

One hurdle I have encountered was fabric sourcing, it’s not as easy as I imagined. Even with the massive amount of resources on the internet, it still takes a long time to filter out potentially good suppliers and then there is ordering samples. If your sample was not up to scratch it’s on to the next contact.

Q8. Do you ever get a creative block? How do you overcome it?
Yes absolutely. I try to take time out when I have a creative block, I will leave my sewing studio for a whole day and get out and about with my family. With the nature of this label, new designs are required more frequently than if I was a designer who only released one collection each season, this is why last year I had my sister Kym join me.

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Q9. What is your biggest fashion ‘no no’ or something you cringe at?
Poorly made garments! Things like twisted seams, badly sewn hemlines, puckers etc. My advice would be to keep the quality classy ladies!

Q10. What are the future plans for Live Love Race?
Over time, we will continue working to improve Create First Place with more fabric choices, designs and options. This is our main focus for the future but soon we will be looking for the right lady to represent our Label at FOTF events throughout Western Australia, we will also collaborate with a Milliner for the outfit our representative will be wearing. Our aim is for Live Love Race to be the “go to” brand for top quality, unique, one of a kind Race Wear, for women who want to stand out from the crowd.

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