Our co-founder Nessy met Stefanie in Byron Bay and she was immediately drawn to her warm personality and chic style.
That encounter put Odet on our radar, and we have been swooning over their intricate, feminine and unique designs ever since. It’s always heartening to come across conscious fashion brands that value limited production and do not compromise on quality.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Stefanie to talk about what led her to create a sustainable fashion brand, the inspiration behind Odet and what circular fashion means to her.
You grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland. Has this shaped or influenced the person you are today?
We lived on a property divided into halves, the front being the warehouse structure that housed my parent's business, and behind was our Queenslander style timber home where we lived as a family of five. From the age of one, my parents ran the business week in and week out - I grew from a baby on their hip, to a toddler in a sand pit behind the desk, and eventually a teenager.
It was not the location where I grew up that shaped me, but the working environment. My mum often makes comments that lead me to believe that she holds onto what I can now only describe as 'mum guilt'. She doesn't realise that the environment she created taught hard work, dedication and that it is possible to run a business while having a young family. And I didn't hesitate to follow in their footsteps - launching my own small business whilst raising our young family.
What inspired you to create Odet?
My husband and I purchase a piece of art each year for our wedding anniversary. We display it on our walls and it is captured as the backdrop of core family memories, such as our first family photo when we brought our new baby home, both of our boys first steps, and their first, second and third birthdays. This got me thinking...
We dress the walls of our home in art, we admire it, collect it, create memories around it, archive it in history and pass it on through generations. But fashion is also an art form, why don’t we treat it as such?
Due to mass production, fashion is often treated as disposable, having no use once the trend has faded and the next has emerged. My intention was to create a conscious fashion brand, that would educate and re-frame consumers habits, realigning the consumption of fashion with how we consume art.
And so, Odet was born - with the brand ethos ‘Where Fashion is Art’. Each of our pieces is highly detailed, limited in production and individually numbered. I design with un-compromised quality and longevity in mind. To adorn the body, appreciate and create memories within the seams and to pass on to loved ones and covet for years to come.
You've worked for some iconic Australian brands, such as Zimmermann and Spell Designs. Can you tell us a little more about your career trajectory?
I studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Fashion Design at the Queensland University of Technology. After graduating, I interned in various areas within the industry, including as Millinery and Styling.
I went on to manage Australian designer retail boutiques, gaining invaluable face-to-face customer feedback on garment fit and quality, which has shaped how I construct my designs today.
While working in the buying and planning department at Zimmermann I was exposed to the broader team's skills, absorbing knowledge that allowed me to analyse the make and fit of garments, understand what makes a best selling style and determine nuances in demand between regions and locations. My love for numbers and analysis of fine details was born within this role.
Seeking work/life balance, my husband and I decided to move to beautiful Byron Bay, where I secured an entry-level position within Spell. It was here that my passion for sustainable practices was nurtured and celebrated. I worked my way up to the Product and Design Coordinator where I oversaw product development, nurtured supplier relationships, monitored fabric consumption, and reported on sustainability impact.
My career trajectory to date has been calculated, as it has been a lifelong dream to launch and run my own small business.
Over the decade I've worked in fashion I have not once been a 'designer' - instead I have learnt and mastered other facets of the industry to prepare myself to one day launch my own company.
In January 2021, I founded Odet and, by October 2022, launched Collection 01.
How do you approach sustainability at Odet?
We are committed to making informed decisions regarding every facet of the business to minimise our impact - this is aligned with our core brand ethos.
We are committed to a limited edition model and to providing full transparency to our consumers - listing quantities produced on the website and each garment swing tag.
A fundamental part of our business is the mutually beneficial relationships built on trust and respect with our suppliers. This allows us to create small runs of our beautiful designs that toe the line between art and fashion, while ensuring our environmental footprint remains as low as possible.
We work with only natural fibres, we have selected the highest quality, certified, recycled and compostable packaging options, and we're committed to planting one tree for every item sold. You can view our impact via https://ecologi.com/odet
We aren't perfect but we are committed to bettering ourselves through education and action.
What does circular fashion mean to you?
During my degree, we were offered only one unit on sustainability over the three years of study. The unit happened to focus on circularity and this one unit impacted me so heavily that it forever changed how I design and consume fashion.
I went on to personally research the effects the fashion industry was having on the environment, pitching and publishing an article in the universities' Frock Paper Scissors' magazine titled 'The Quest for Sustainable Fashion'.
The article centred on my quest for sustainable fashion, and began with the realisation that I was not an ethical consumer, nor was I an ethical designer. While researching this article, I visited Brisbane's Red Hill, Salvation Army Warehouse where I was confronted with a football stadium size warehouse packed to the brim with large hessian bags full of pre-loved clothing. This clothing was considered 'circular' - it had been donated to a charity to be re-sold. However, these pieces had all been pre-sorted and any item that was marked or showing signs of heavy wear was ready to be discarded.
I still recall it being difficult to swallow the golf ball-sized lump in my throat, staring at the sheer volume of clothing in this space, in just one warehouse, in one town, in one state in Australia.
This experience shaped my design philosophy - I will always produce high-quality, timeless pieces and never contribute to mass production.
Have you ever sold your own clothing or bought pre-loved?
I am constantly selling my pre-loved clothing. Anything I'm not wearing often is passed on to someone who will appreciate them more.
Is there any particular item of clothing in your closet that you could never part with? Why?
I am deeply sentimental; therefore, the items I cannot part with in my collection are not necessarily the pieces that are' timeless' but are those which I have created core memories within their seams, such as the first dress I designed or the dress that I wore when my husband proposed.
I hope to one day pass these on to my loved ones, sharing the story behind the garments and how I felt wearing them.
I would hope that they will also covet them for years to come and feel as special as I did wearing them.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to create their own clothing brand?
I advise anyone wanting to start their own fashion brand to take a deep breath and just do it. As creatives, we tend to stand in our own way, holding back, being protective of our work and thinking we can't start a brand and release our designs into the world until they are 'perfect'.
From one perfectionist to another - your confidence in yourself will grow and your abilities will also grow with each collection you create and release.
So just take the plunge and start now! And be sure to educate yourself on the fashion industry's effects on the environment and create consciously.
We are so excited about your latest Collection 03. By The Seashore which launches in December. Do you have a personal favourite item in the collection?
The collection is inspired by the iconic poem 'she sells seashells, by the seashore'. It is a poem that evokes memories of hunting for treasures along the seaside as a child on summer vacations.
The Seashell Gown in Pistachio is my favourite design. It features hand-painted watercolour artwork and is crafted in a luxurious linen and silk fabrication. This particular pieces is worn off the shoulder, with bubble sleeves gathered in pistachio-coloured ribbons. The gown increases in volume from neckline to hem, intentionally weighted at the hem to float and bounce with movement. It is both innately feminine and effortlessly cool. You will see me galavanting around the Byron Bay and Lennox Head areas in this style for the foreseeable future.