Founding the label in 2017 after spending a decade working for a fabric wholesaler in New Zealand and Australia, Dominique Healy knows her way around beautiful fabrications. We spoke to Dominique about her journey to starting her own label, the design process, and of course her top wardrobe essentials.
We would love to know about your path to where you are now. Where did you grow up, what did you study, what do you think has made the biggest impact on where you are now?
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand which is also where I studied Fashion Design at AUT (Auckland University of Technology). I've been interested in making clothes probably as long as I can remember.
There are a couple things that have had quite an impact on me. The first being the time I spent with my Aunty growing up. She’s an incredible seamstress and I spent a lot of time with her. She always had so much patience with me and taught me to sew from when I was about 8 right up until when I went off to study.
Secondly is probably moving to Melbourne in my early twenties. I think being in a new city gave me a kind of freedom I hadn’t felt before. When I started my label I always felt so supported by the community here, I think this really helped build up confidence over time. I’m so grateful for what this city and country has given me over the years I feel very lucky to be here.
You started your career in the textile industry working for a fabric wholesaler in New Zealand and Australia, what did you love about this sector of the industry, what did it teach you about the fabric choices we make with our clothes?
I honestly love everything about fabric so I really enjoyed working in this sector. I definitely learnt a lot about why people like certain types of fabrics, a lot of it has to do with each person’s day to day lifestyle and what they need from their clothes. This has been invaluable to me and has helped me so much with my design and fabric selection process.
When and why did you decide to move from the textile industry to designing your own label?
I think I always intended on having my own label but just didn’t have the confidence when I finished studying. I found the fashion industry a little intimidating which I think is what pushed me toward staying in the textile sector for a fairly long period of time. It just took time and experience before I felt ready to jump in and give it real go. I loved the company I worked for but I reached a point when I knew I wanted to be the one buying the fabric, not selling it.
What were the biggest challenges with starting your label and what advice would you give to those that are looking to follow a similar path?
I never did a business plan when I started, I can see now looking back that I could have saved so much time simply by getting a plan onto paper. Even if it’s only a page, writing a road map to where you want to get to from the start will save you so much time in the long run. Your goals will change over time and it will need to be updated as you go but it’s so important to know where you want to go and have some kind of plan in place that you believe will get you there. As I’m saying this I realise I need to take my own advice and update mine!
What has been the biggest learning and what’s working well for the brand?
The biggest learning is probably that you don’t need to make new things all the time, often you just need to refine and adjust what you already have. So many of my pieces are all an evolution of my first collection. I find people often are most drawn to styles they feel comfortable and confident in, my most popular pieces are the Anna Frill and Bella Blouse from my classics collection which I’ve been making every year since I started my label.
We love hearing about the design process, where do you begin designing a collection?
I always start with fabric, it’s always been the biggest inspiration for me. The first thing I do when starting a collection is source the fabrics. From here I start to imagine what each fabric could be made into. I suppose I’m also fairly technical too so how a fabric falls and feels affects what you’re able to do with it so this is always something I keep in mind. I like to design through making, I’m a very practical person so the design process for me often happens through making and developing shapes as I go.
What’s important to you when designing and creating your brand?
My customers! I want to make pieces people feel good wearing. I also want to find a way to connect my customers more with the people making their clothes which is why making locally has also always been quite important to me. I want to spend a little more time finding a way to communicate this process.
What can we expect from Dominique Healy in the future?
As I get older I’ve found myself wanting to spend a bit more time with family which has lead me to set up a second base in Auckland, New Zealand. It means I should be able to more easily split my time between the two places. I’m actually in the middle of this right now! Hoping to get the doors open this week.
Longterm, I just want to find a way to continue doing what I love and connecting my customers more to the people making their clothes. I also want to continue finding a way to do this which will have fewer impacts on the environment we live in. This will always be an ongoing process.
How would you describe your personal style?
What are your wardrobe essentials?
JEANS! Anyone that knows me knows I live in denim! I recently bought a pair from you actually which I’m obsessed with. The SLVRLAKE London High Rise, they are such a great denim, I just know I’ll have these for a very long time. You can just tell by the fabric they’re built to last.
In addition to the jeans I live in linen and cotton blouses, the Louie Crop in Sand from my latest range has been my go-to lately.
I also love my shoes and have a great little selection of staples from Melbourne brand Nelson Made who I saw you are now stocking! Her Juliette Midi in Cacao are my current fav, they’re the perfect shoe for day to night I love mine.