Surrounded by flowing fabrics, elaborate beading and elegant furnishings, Melbourne fashion designer Anna Campbell is at home in her bridal boutique.
After launching her distinctive label in 2007 at the age of 20, Anna’s success grew rapidly. Last year, demand for her product skyrocketed and she opened her first showroom. Due to its reputation as a rising eclectic suburb of Melbourne, Anna chose Sydney Road in Brunswick as the home for her fashion label where she shares a strip with established bridal designers such as Mariana Hardwick. Anna is now regularly fully booked by women wishing to wear one of her exclusive wedding gowns and has an increasing waiting list.
It was during Anna’s younger years she discovered her passion for creativity, although says she wasn’t always one to fuss over her own appearance.
“I always remember loving to create. I was probably, and sometimes still am, the most unfashionable grubby child you could imagine. I didn’t really know anything about fashion, but I loved drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing – anything creative,” Anna told Australian Women Online.
Anna’s late grandmother was a major inspiration in her decision to become a fashion designer and her designs clearly show a touch of ‘old world’ charm.
“My grandmother was an incredibly strong, proud and intelligent woman. She dressed beautifully and she expected the best from us. She made success the only option. She encouraged us to believe that we could do anything,” she said.
Off the back of this kind of support and with the freedom to explore her imagination, Anna turned her focus to design when she began high school.
“I was doing textiles and started looking at wearable art. I began to love all of the amazing things that you could do with fabric. By Year 11 and 12 I made the decision to work towards a creative career, so I did four Art based VCE subjects with a focus on being accepted into Fashion Design at RMIT’s city campus.”
When Anna was accepted into the RMIT Fashion courses that she “wanted so badly” she packed up and moved to Melbourne to start a whole new chapter of her life, which she says wasn’t all it had cracked up to be.
“I was only 18 and three days in (to the course) and I was unsure. Five months later – I quit. I wasn’t really sure where I was going so I decided to take six months off and transfer to the RMIT Tafe program the next year. During this time I designed a range of fascinators and started selling them at local boutiques. That led to selling dresses, creating a range and finding stockists,” she said.
Anna said the launch of her label is all a blur these days. But she does remember the frenzy of excitement surrounding the event.
“I was paranoid that no-one would turn up, so I was very shocked when half an hour before the doors opened there were girls squished into a queue wanting to come in. I remember the music not playing properly, my little sister and one of my best friends modelling for me and my older sister trying to seat people and keep some kind of calm – I don’t think any of us were expecting how crazy it was going to be,” she said.
Her fashion philosophy mirrors that of many; keeping it “classic and feminine”. But it’s her independent attitude to follow her own taste that confirms how she has kept her designs unique.
“We really do ignore current trends and just create pieces that we all love. We are a small team and we work incredibly closely with our clients. They are the ones who inspire so many new ideas for us. They give us incredible feedback every day,” she said.
While Anna acknowledged not every day was a joyous occasion of launches, parades and photo shoots, and rather mounting emails and a general lack of time to get everything done, she said the rewards far outweighed the challenges.
“We adore it when customers send us pictures of them at their wedding or event, it really makes you swell with pride and love for them and your work. We have some incredible customers, who we get close to across all of the fittings, and consultations, we are so excited for them on their wedding day,” she said.
Now 25, Anna believed a key factor to her success was in fact her lack of knowledge starting out in the industry.
“Number one would be being so naive when I started. I think that if I had a degree or a lot of experience in working for someone else, I would have over-planned and been so cautious of budgets etcetera.
“I literally started with nothing and threw everything at it. I am a huge risk taker – it helped then and it helps now.”
For more information visit the website: www.annacampbell.com.au