Eloise Panetta is a storyteller a craftswoman and an accomplished designer with the most incredible career journey.
As the eldest of 5 kids. Eloise’s love for fashion design, sewing and pattern making started early on in life, having learnt most of the skills from her grandmother as a child. A couple of degrees later, work experience and a passion botanical dyeing, jewellery making and painting later and Eloise started her own business.
Eloise transforms silk into bespoke camis, slips, dresses, blouses and scarves which she botanically dyes by hand. To hand dye these one-of-a-kind garments, she uses a botanical technique that involves wrapping small batches of leaves, flowers and berries in the silk and steaming.
This interview is for any passionate creative.
Where did you you grow up and how did your experience shape the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Sydney, Australia as the eldest of 5 kids. My love for fashion design, sewing and pattern making started early on in life, having learnt most of my skills from my grandmother as a child. This led me to pursue a career in fashion design after school, completing my Bachelor of Fashion Design and then working full time as a designer for an Australian fashion label. After several years working in the fashion industry, I decided to go back to university and complete my Master of Fine Arts in Sydney. It was during these years where I refined my skills in botanical dyeing, jewellery making and painting.
Love this story, so what did you want to be when you grew up?
From as early as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a designer. I was really creative as a child and loved art and sewing. I was a really good sewer, learning from my beautiful Italian grandmother, Rosa. I got my first sewing machine when I was 9 and it just bloomed from there. I was such an entrepreneurial kid, making little purses and taking them to school to sell. I have always been passionate about being a designer, it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to school at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney. I had such a wonderful high school experience. I actually got into that school as a dancer and danced all the way through, training in classical ballet and contemporary! I also specialised in art, textile design and had weekly guitar lessons! It was great fun!
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I would definitely say that Newtown played an important role in nurturing my career in fashion design. It really was a wonderful school and they embraced everything about the creative arts. It definitely was an amazing foundation to have as a young aspiring designer.
That is amazing, and so lovely to hear. Go Newtown! So, did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
As a young person, I was incredibly independent and took the initiative to complete as many different internships and work experience placements as I could- even if it wasn’t required. I was so keen to dive in and learn as much as possible from professionals already working in the industry! I volunteered my time at many places, including ACP magazines, Lisa Ho, Nicola Finetti, Rachel Gilbert, Fashion Week… just to name a few. I really valued all my time at all of my work placements. It was a wonderful opportunity to absorb as much as I could from the Australian fashion Industry.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I studied a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Fashion Design at the Whitehouse Institute of Design straight after high school. My favourite subjects were pattern making and design, and I adored my teachers Jill and Mel! They were incredible and quite instrumental in helping to shape my creative direction. Later on, I also took myself back to uni to study a Master of Fine Art at UNSW COFA! I loved immersing myself in a new way of creative thinking and collaboration. It was here that I really refined my skills in botanical dyeing, painting and jewellery making.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
I am so grateful to have worked with so many amazing industry professionals in my career so far!
My first full time job was working for Zimmermann. It was a dream. I really loved being a junior on the design team, working with so many amazing creative people. After my time at Zimmermann, I went straight into my MFA at COFA and shortly after that started my own fashion business, Eloïse Panetta.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
I was always destined to run my own business, but really valued how important it was to gain industry experience as a young aspiring designer. I really valued the skills and experience developed while working for other people and the incredible insight into how to run a business.
After working in the Australian fashion industry, I pursued creating one-of-a-kind pieces for clients. It all started by making bespoke bridal gowns and veils for clients and evolved from there. At the very core of Eloïse Panetta is the love and craftswomanship for creating made to order and bespoke pieces of wearable art. That is the foundation of who I am and who my business is. The silk hair accessories evolved over time as a result of the resourceful nature of my business values and EP has bloomed ever since.
What is the hardest part of your current role as the Founder and Designer?
There are so, so many challenges…
Probably one of the hardest parts of running a business for me is that it doesn’t really feel like a job. Self-employment is incredibly rewarding, but also comes with its setbacks and I find you really need to create a solid structure and roadmap for different tasks. No one is there to tell me what tasks to do or prioritise. You really need to create everything from scratch.
I absolutely adore what I do and have such a deep respect for my current role and what it entails. Each and every day is incredibly different, and you need to think quickly and adapt to many different situations- good and bad. Production has also been challenging because everything is handmade in house in my Sydney atelier. I am still very much a part of the production process which can be very intensive.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
Each and every day is so varied! I work 7 days and have done so now for a few years.
My day always starts out in my Sydney atelier with a lovely coffee from my favourite cafe in The Rocks. From here, I’m managing the production process, making and preparing online/ wholesale orders, balancing my time with emails (which I’m terrible at as I’m never at my computer) and also front of house in the retail boutique. I spend a lot of my time creating and being creative, which I absolutely love. I employ a small team of amazing, creative and talented women who inspire me greatly. We work alongside each other daily to create and bring my visions to life.
I always feel so inspired when they are here working alongside me, they are integral to the success of Eloïse Panetta, and I am just so grateful to have such an amazing team who love and believe in EP as much as I do.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
My mum, sisters, grandmothers. These women have been instrumental in my career and have been my greatest supporters and inspiration. They are strong and courageous women and inspire me daily in my life and work. They have really shaped who I am today, I absolutely treasure my relationship with them all.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
If I had to offer a small piece of advice to anyone wanting to start a fashion business, it would be to really consider what’s involved and if it feels right for you. It’s a lot of hard work, a huge commitment financially and you need to really operate with the right attitude to get through the highs and lows. It takes a lot of persistence to work through those challenges, but at the end of the day, running a business has hands-down been the best thing I’ve ever done! 5 years in and going strong. It’s incredibly rewarding and such an amazing feeling to get amazing positive feedback from customers who love what you do. If it feels right, I will just go for it!
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
My most valuable resource I constantly turn to is the natural world! I have such a deep love and respect for the natural world, and I am constantly in awe of its ability to provide. It’s my biggest source of inspiration. I also look for inspiration in art and architecture, interior design, travel and of course, beautiful textiles!
- Favourite Websites: I love the Bed Threads website, especially their makers series journal, I am also obsessed with the Pinterest website!
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: I am loving this amazing Art Instagram account at the moment called @artistforaweek where different artists are featured weekly and you get to dive deep into the stylistic characterises of their works. For beautiful jewellery and object design my go to is @mociun, interior spaces- @studiolowsheen and of course my own hehe! @eloisepanetta
- Favourite Podcast: So hard to choose because I love and listen to so many. Lady Start-up stories, The Design Files Talks, She’s On The Money, Babes Talking Business, Jumbled Loves A Chat… are some of my most frequented podcasts!
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but Master of None was a really good series my partner and I enjoyed recently. A friend of mine really loved it and recommended us to give it a go.
- Who is your mentor? I have so many incredible women surrounding me who are my mentors and go to for business support and advice. I really value networking and making connections with other entrepreneurs and business owners. These relationships are incredibly valuable to me and I am so grateful to have such an amazing network of friends and colleagues who run businesses and can be my go-to if I need help.
- Favourite all time book/s: ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle
- Favourite App that you use every day: Shopify and Instagram