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

Textile Screen Printer

What Makes A Creative Heart Sing? An Interview With Simone Deckers from Femke Textiles

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-MenserComment

It took Simone Deckers 15 years to find her passion.

Simone arrived in Australia from The Netherlands with her parents and sister when she was 8 years old. Her dad was a woodworker and her mum was a nurse and avid sewer. The Deckers family settled in Brisbane and quickly fell in love with the Australian bush.

After following in her mums footsteps as a nurse, the realisationn finally came for Simone that her passion for colour, pattern and textiles needed to be honoured more fully in her life.

She quit her job as a clinical nurse at a blood bank, took the leap of faith and re-trained in Textile Design at RMIT in Melbourne.

The career move was a brave one especially since it meant a giant pay cut.

Simone Deckers at the door to her studio in West Melbourne. Photo by YOU ARE BRAVE.

Simone Deckers at the door to her studio in West Melbourne. Photo by YOU ARE BRAVE.

After finishing her studies Simone started her textile label Femke Textiles, so named because “Femke” would have been her name had her parents not chosen “Simone”

Through Femke Textiles, Simone creates beautiful, nature inspired prints that explore her intimate connection with Australia’s flora and fauna … a connection that not only ties her with the bush but also conveys something influential about her family bonds.

Simone Deckers is also a Print Technician at RMIT. Photo by Simone Deckers.

Simone Deckers is also a Print Technician at RMIT. Photo by Simone Deckers.

I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with Simone in February at her wonderful West Melbourne studio … here is that interview ….

In the studio at Femke Textiles with Simone.

In the studio at Femke Textiles with Simone.


What does the Australian bush & fauna mean to you? Why does it feature so heavily in your work?

What’s not to love? I love the uniqueness and the diversity in colour, shapes, textures. I love that some of it can survive in the harshest of conditions. I just find the Australian bush so inspiring. It means home. My favourite smell has to be that of gum leaves - any variety!

I associate the Aussie bush and fauna with many wonderful camping holidays I took with my family when I was young. We spent many Sundays bush walking, enjoying time together as a family and I think my love for Australian flora and fauna was definitely a spark that was ignited during this time.

I lost my Dad only 18 months ago and the Aussie bush and fauna definitely helps me feel closer to him. He had such a big love for both.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

The bravest thing I have ever done would be to follow my dreams and creative energy and go from full time nursing and a steady income to studying textile design and now running my own business! I won’t lie, it hasn’t always been the easiest, but I really love what I do and feel very thankful that I get to go into my studio and create.

Femke Textiles print range. Photo by Simone Deckers .

Femke Textiles print range. Photo by Simone Deckers .

What is it about textile design and screen printing that drives your passion? Why do you choose this as a career?

I have always love fabric, patterns and colour. I remember mum sewing a

lot of mine and my sisters clothes and being surrounded by fabric when I was younger. I have always loved the act of screen printing and I still get excited when I lift the screen and see my designs come to life on fabric. I love that the options for patterns on fabric are endless. I choose to mostly work with linen as I love the texture and drape of it. I love the way screen printed textiles look VS digitally printed. I love the texture and the difference in each print. I love the beauty in imperfections that screen printing creates.

Linen top by Femke Textiles. Photo by Simone Deckers.

Linen top by Femke Textiles. Photo by Simone Deckers.

What frustrations or difficulties are you experiencing with your work?

Hmmmmmm...the frustrations and difficulties of running your own business sometimes seem like many! I guess one of the biggest frustrations is not having enough hands to make/do all the things I have ticking over in my head! I have to wear so many different hats and having some help with things like marketing etc would be helpful.

What does the name Femke Textiles mean?

My name was going to be Femke if it wasn’t Simone. Mum and dad decided on Simone in the end so I thought Femke was a good name for my business (the other me!) It is a Friesian name - my grandfather was Friesian.

At the studio work table at Femke Textiles. Photo by YOU ARE BRAVE.

At the studio work table at Femke Textiles. Photo by YOU ARE BRAVE.

What impact do you think coming to Australia as a little girl had on your outlook and your chosen path in printing and textiles?

I think seeing my parents work really hard to re-establish themselves and also run their own business in a foreign/new country gave me the strength and courage to try something new and work really hard to achieve it. They showed me that anything is possible really with the love and support of your family behind you and ofcourse hard work!

Who would you most like to work with or collaborate with?

I would really love to collaborate with a ceramicist. I would love to see some of my designs on plates cups etc.

I would also love to work with a restaurant or accommodation provider in country Victoria and design the patterns for their linen/menus etc.

My biggest dream (hopefully to come true one day) is to design a large scale public art/design piece somewhere!

Wattle Puff Print on Flax Linen by Femke Textiles. Photo by Simone Deckers.

Wattle Puff Print on Flax Linen by Femke Textiles. Photo by Simone Deckers.

Femke Textiles is based in Melbourne and you can find out more about Simone and her work by visiting her website https://www.femketextiles.com.au/

A huge Thank You to Simone for her generosity with her time to do this interview AND also, she picked me up from my accommodation in Melbourne to go to her studio!

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“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!

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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 www.allitera.com.au 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 www.instagram.com/allitera_

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