I’m Leanne, the founder of Curious and Brave based in Newcastle, New South Wales.
Starting a fashion label has been a long-term goal of mine. In fact, I was five when I decided that I wanted to design my own collections.
My mum, a trained tailor, taught me how to sew and showed me how to experiment on lined paper and then onto fabric. I was always interested in her clothes and shoes! I was lucky to learn from her as her work is exquisite. (I still have some precious pieces of her designs).
Her training was invaluable and set me up for a lifetime of design. In high school, I created shorts for my friends, complete with a handmade LTB label.
Since then, I’ve studied design and business, including a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Newcastle, as well as courses on fashion manufacturing, fashion colours and styling and interior decorating. I believe each course or job has been a stepping stone to where I am today.
The Curious and Brave fashion label is something I’m incredibly proud of. I certainly count myself as a curious and brave woman. Life is far more interesting when you are open to what life presents around you, ask questions, learn and have a go.
When you push yourself outside your comfort zone, you never know what will happen, whom you will meet, what you can learn, experience and grow as a person.
That’s exactly what this label is about. Curious and Brave is about challenging the fashion industry and doing things differently.
Curious and Brave is a collection of Australian-made capsule wardrobe pieces for real women sized 6 to 20. Many women are frustrated with what is in the marketplace in terms of sizing and style. Female bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and I try to accommodate this when designing the Curious and Brave garments.
I listen to our customers in-person at the Curious and Brave boutique or online when they describe their pain points of trying to find high quality, stylish and well-fitting clothes in shopping centres or online. Their feedback is invaluable as I incorporate them into the design of future garments.
I personally design all of the pieces. Each capsule piece is designed with the end in mind. For example, I think about the garment and how many different ways it can be worn, how the fabric will work with the design and even how the fabric will be cut and made to minimise fabric wastage.
I also think about the women who come into the store, how pieces will flatter and fit each person, and the gaps in the market. Much work goes into each detail, from conception to being stocked online / in-store. Many ideas don’t make it for various reasons, and that’s fine. I focus on quality, not quantity.
I’m also proud to manufacture my products in Australia. Although it’s cheaper to produce garments overseas, I firmly believe in Australian made. Through my commitment to Australian manufacturing, Curious and Brave provide ongoing work, Australian wage rates, job security and safe working conditions to our makers, most of whom are women.
It also ensures a high-quality product as I can monitor the quality of our garments and materials to ensure it measures up to my high standards.
As well as Australian made, I’m also committed to sustainability. I’m always looking for a better way of doing things, especially when it comes to the fashion industry.
I source quality OEKO certified fabrics. OEKO-TEX® is an independent test and certification system which certifies that textiles and fabrics are certified free of harmful chemicals and are safe for human use.
To further promote sustainability, I also encourage people to buy less and be more thoughtful and intentional with their clothes shopping.
That’s why I design the garments of Curious and Brave to be elements of a capsule wardrobe. Our pieces are designed to be worn together in a variety of ways. In fact, five of our versatile garments can create nine different outfits. And that’s not including the clothes you already have in your wardrobe that you love to wear, which can be integrated to create more outfits.
This minimal approach reduces your money, your time and more importantly, fashion waste.
As the mum of three kids, being environmentally friendly resonates throughout my vision for Curious and Brave. As David Attenborough states, “Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations, a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”