YOU ARE BRAVE textiles printed fabrics by textile designer Michelle Kistima-Menser

Textile Designers

Bare Foot & Laid Back - An Interview With Asha Kidd

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-MenserComment
Asha Kidd Mr Haddy Boho Cactus Beach Bag.jpg

Celebrating a laid back Australian lifestyle through her label Mr Haddy, Asha Kidd is living an authentic and enviable life on the east coast of Australia.

Asha's Instagram account conjures up simple yet contented beach side living, merged with her unique boho/vintage personal style ... while images of her hand made products seamlessly mingle with those of her gorgeous self and her 2 beautiful boys, Marlin & Che.

However in her interview with me, she reveals just how challenging running a business single-handedly while being a young mum can be. Finding her creative energy takes more work these days. But it's something she's committed to ... for reason's you'll find out ...

Mr Haddy Eye Painting

1. What gets you up in the morning?

That would be my little alarm clocks, my boys, my babies. Che my 15 month old likes to wake around 7am which is respectable but I much rather like to sleep in til 8.30 – 9 like Marlin, my 3 year old!

2. How did Mr Haddy come into being?

We were moving around a lot with my partners work and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, after studying various different career paths but having nothing that really set my heart on fire, I was always a bit lost. It wasn't until I fell pregnant with Marlin that I knew I wanted to do something from home ... to have my own business to I could spend all the time I could with my babies. I went back to what I always loved and where I find real happiness which is in designing and creating art. Although it's forever changing and I'm still very much finding myself along the way.

Asha Kidd Mr Haddy with Che & surfboard

3. What's behind the Mr Haddy name?

Mr Haddy is a character from the Paul Theroux novel The Mosquito Coast, which was later made into a film. It was one of our mums favourite films and we were forced to watch it regularly! There was a character who just epitomised how we would all love to be, the chilled out Rasta, not a care in the world as long as he had a boat he'd be A-Ok. That's the vibe I was seeking for my brand so the name fit.

4. Your top tip for igniting creativity would be .... ?

... free time, with no pressure. If I make a special time for work, it never gets done. Creativity can't be forced it has to come from a natural genuine place. Most of my ideas come to me when we're driving, the kids are asleep in the back, I'm the passenger, there's tunes playing and I don't have to worry about the washing etc. Sadly it doesn't happen too often! Otherwise, a clean studio ignites the creative fire.

Mr Haddy Asha Kidd Family
Asha Kidd from Mr Haddy Lifestyle Brand with kids

5. What's the bravest thing you've ever had to do?

Deciding to go out on a limb and start Mr Haddy, without any real business knowledge. I knew that I had a burning desire to create but making an actual income has been a different story. Most recently I decided to take the manufacture of our products OS. This was a huge leap for me. From doing absolutely everything from start to finish myself and then handing the reigns over to someone else where I couldn't oversee each process took a lot of bravery. I'm glad I have the skills to make exactly what I want in a sample, as they have to copy it exactly!

Asha Kidd Mr Haddy Palm Tree Beach Bag on the sand

6. What motivates you to create?

I never needed motivation, as it's in my blood and bones, the desire has always been there as long as I can remember. It was never forced. Now though, I'm sleep deprived, I'm running around like a mad woman most of the day and those spontaneous bursts of creative motivation rarely pop up. I have to work for it, I have to do it for myself and my family. It's my happiness that is at stake, no one wants a grumpy mama!

7. Who inspires you? And why?

My sister Sky, she has recently taught herself to silversmith whilst raising her little twin babies. Her creativity and unique style has given me so much inspiration lately.

Asha Kidd Mr Haddy Turquiose Jewellery & palm tree painting
Mr Haddy The bag making process

8. What's next for Mr Haddy?

I'm going to take it slow. I've made the mistake in the past of rushing into ideas that I haven't properly thought through and ended up regretting the decision. I think a lot of creative folk fall into that trap and you end up spending lots of money on ideas that never end up seeing the light of day. I guess it's all a part of the process though ... please tell me I'm not alone? Haha!

I do have a few ideas in the works and one of those is designing clothing. It's my first love and i really want to get back into it.

Asha Kidd Mr Haddy Palm Tree Pillows

You can find Mr Haddy at and catch up on the latest with Asha on Instagram @mrhaddy

* All images are courtesy of Mr Haddy

Mr Haddy Logo

“So many ideas. So little time!” - Caroline Choi aka Allitera

Michelle Kistima-Menser2 Comments

With 3 young sons, a part-time “day job”, freelance work as well as running her beloved label Allitera, Caroline Choi is one busy lady.

Yet her Instagram posts reflect such a sense of tranquility. She calls it her “virtual visual diary” it's full of beautiful images she captures herself which she uses to inspire her work. From her time living in Vietnam, faded building facades, insect life, light reflections on water & a fairly recent trip to Cuba Caroline finds inspiration pretty much everywhere.

Her background in art conservation, research and curating also helps inform her work for her clothing label Allitera. Designed for the 30+ market, Allitera combines Caroline’s love of hand screen printing & uses natural fibres such as silk & linen with classic yet quirky & versatile cuts that (thankfully!) are easy to wear & care for.

I’m so very thrilled to be able to give you little further insight into this wonderful Australian textile designer & printer’s work with this interview she so graciously afforded me this week.

Allitera Clothing Range,jpg

1.  How did you get from the world of art conservation & art galleries to creating your clothing label? Why did you make the decision to go into fashion?

My background is in paintings conservation and art history, but I wouldn't say I have totally left that world. I am still open to pursuing areas of interest in those fields and feel it compliments the more hands-on approach of textile design and screen printing. My academic background in art history and understanding of materials from conservation informs this work and vice versa. Allitera is not a fashion label. In fact I think of it as opposite to that world. Fashion is trend-driven and disposable. I try to create items that are hand made, versatile and long-lasting.

ALLITERA Ondolay Pussy Bow Tie Dress
ALLITERA Havana Lights Tunic.jpg

2. What does hand printing your textiles yourself mean to Alllitera?

Screen printing is my happy place. I think all print making is quite wondrous & love the quality of hand printing - including happy accidents! All my designs begin from the hand - whether its a drawing, a lino-cut or a doodle!



3. What inspires your aesthetic?

Anything and everything! Nature, travel, a crumbling wall, the shimmer of the ocean, a silly comment. Faded facades, unexpected colour combinations and always art. I keep a virtual visual diary in the form of instagram documenting what inspires me!

Allitera Image From Instagram 2.jpg
Allitera Image From Instagram

4. Who inspires/motivates you?

Not any one person in particular. My children inspire me with their innate curiosity and creativity.

Alliteras Kids.jpg

5. Being a self employed designer can seem idyllic from the outside. What’s the hardest part of your job?

Balancing the creative work I love with all the boring jobs one hates! Time is also a continual issue - with 3 roaring boys and an outside job - I have very limited time in the studio!

6.  What is your proudest career achievement?

Curating an exhibition of objects collected by service people during the war in Viet Nam that were being repatriated back to their rightful owners there by a team from UNSW. (Called Operation Wandering Souls Project). It was wonderful for me to be involved in this project as Viet Nam has a very firm and dear place in my heart. I spent 3 and a half years living in Viet Nam conducting research into the contemporary art scene there. I fell in love with the people, the culture and the country. It was the culmination of my personal and professional journeys that made it so deeply satisfying.

7.  What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do? (In life/work/ anywhere?)

Leaving Australia as a young and naive PhD candidate to commence research in Viet Nam. I landed and jumped straight on the back of a motorbike with no language skills and no idea of what lay ahead of me! After travelling from south to north over 3 months, I settled in Ha Noi where I commenced intensive language training and my total immersion into the local art scene!

Photo by Allitera Taken in Viet Nam.jpg

8. What’s new / on the horizon for Allitera?

So many things! I always have so many ideas, and so little time!

Visit to find out more about Caroline's current range. Allitera is also stocked in Sydney & soon to be in Melbourne, Australia at select retail outlets. 

Also do indulge your sense of tranquility & take a look at Caroline's wonderful Instagram posts



All images used with permission from Allitera, except ** by Cath Derksema & * by YOU ARE BRAVE

An Inspiring Interview with Cath Derksema from Prints Charming

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-Menser2 Comments

Hello & Welcome!

I'm so pleased to have the had the opportunity to chat with Cath Derksema, the designer, printer, crafter behind the fabulous Australian textile label Prints Charming.

It was not until I interviewed Cath last week that I realized I'd been admiring her work throughout my burgeoning career in textile design since the mid 90's.  I idolized the designs of Hot Tuna (the iconic surf wear brand), John Kaldor (I so wanted to work there!) & her own interiors label Art Park (I still have a blue green spot quilt cover set from back in the 90's) This is .... to name a just a few of the labels she's designed for.

Cath is so openly warm & welcoming, no wonder I love her work!  If you haven't seen Prints Charming, I can tell you that it's a feast for the happy eye! Bright, fun & so obviously full of love for the textile medium.  I'll leave the rest for Cath to explain in the interview below ... at her gorgeous studio space ...

Q.  I love how you use the words “crafted” & “crafting” on your website. Why is crafting & handmade important these days?

It is important as it is a beautiful antithesis to the craziness of the technology driven world we now live in. Our DNA is rife with making ... there's no hiding from it!

Q.  What inspires the Prints Charming aesthetic?

Clean bold simple lines initially inspired the PC aesthetic ... Marimekko for their longevity and obvious pattern love.

YOU ARE BRAVEs Interview with Prints Charming

Q.  What were you doing directly before Prints Charming?

I was winding down my design business, and having two babies...I thought initially that I could do it all ... however, the demands of motherhood quickly over rode deadlines and forward thinking..

Q.  What was the motivation for starting Prints Charming?

A strong desire to make fabric was the initial motivation ... however I also realized that I needed to be back with creative like minded souls, having spent a good 5yrs in the domestic baby realm.

Q.  What is your proudest career achievement?

I don't ever think like that ... I love what I do, and simply feel very privileged to be a part of this awesome community ... hang on ... come to think of it ... Kirsten and I did a lot of screaming and jumping up and down, when we learned of our contract with 'FreeSpirit' fabrics in NY!  It was 2007 and crafting fabrics were taking a turn for the better, as we were under the same banner as Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey and Heather Ross.

Q.  Who inspires you? Why?

My Mother is a big inspiration as she was a big maker crafter in the '70s (and beyond) and we always had a sewing machine on the kitchen table.

Q What’s the bravest thing you’ve done during your career as a textile designer?

I guess leaving a secure job with John Kaldor and starting my own thing was in hind sight pretty brave, although at the time it seemed so obvious to me.

Q.  What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own creative business?

I would say, be prepared to live, breathe, eat and sleep it! Have relentless reserves of energy and never be afraid. Don't hold back, don't procrastinate ... just GO FOR IT ..... all of this will come naturally if you are really meant to do it!

Seriously inspiring stuff!  A big thank you to Cath for her time, natural warmth & openness!

The Prints Charming range can be found at Spotlight & via her website. Cath regularly runs Shibori indigo dying & embroidery workshops at her beautiful warehouse space in Annandale in Sydney's inner west.  She can be contacted via the website