YOU ASKED : SARAH ANSWERED
YOUR OWN PERSONAL Q+A WITH CHASING UNICORNS FOUNDER SARAH HUMPHREY
What is your most coveted vintage find?
Ohhhh, tough one. But I’d have to say it is this incredible 1920s cutwork lace dress that I found at a Byron garage sale for $30 (see above pic). It’s one of my favourite pieces ever. Incidentally, it was the inspiration piece for SPELL’s Isla Bonita story a few years back.
If you weren't doing Chasing Unicorns what do you think you would be doing?
Definitely working for myself and being creative but not sure exactly what. I’m a terrible planner, I'm more of a follow my heart kind of person who doesn’t usually have a clear agenda when I set out. This quality in me drives my husband crazy but following my heart and just seeing where things lead has always worked out ok for me. All I know is after having kids (and the meaningfulness of that role) going back to work in an occupation that I wasn’t passionate about or wasn’t meaningful to me was not appealing at all. I think this is pretty universal for all Mothers.
What is the greatest lesson that motherhood has taught you?
Strength and priority. Motherhood has shown me that I’m much stronger as a person than I ever conceived. This role has also made my life priorities crystal clear. I put no energy into petty things since having kids.
Do you have any advice on storing and wearing your vintage pieces to keep them in great condition?
I’m hopeless with this, sorry! I wear my vintage every day and everywhere and it’s often damaged by my real life as a result. Picking up kids and using ergo baby carriers is not kind to 80-year-old fabrics!!! I do a lot of patching and repairing but always figure better to wear and love something than to just have it hanging somewhere. Out of necessity (no closets), my clothes are always hanging in the open. This is bad for sun damage if they are near a window but good for avoiding mould, mildew and moths.
Awwwww! I adore reading but have literally not read a whole book since having sky, my second child. I don’t watch movies or Netflix shows either. I just run around like a psycho day and then fall asleep the minute I lie down in bed. I love anything by Ken Kesey, Hunter S Thompson, Hermann Hesse, Anais Nin, Milan Kundera. My taste in authors kind of matches my taste in clothes.
What are your favourite vintage labels to collect?
Most of what I collect is unbranded or random pieces from dress shops from some random place. With Indian 70s dresses, searching designers definitely helps: Ritu Kumar, Adini, Phool, Keiser, early Judith Ann, I. Magin, Treacy Lowe.
What is your best advice on starting your own label? How do you even begin the process?
Production is obviously the biggest hurdle. Finding the right people to make the pieces by the right ethical means. Concentrate on finding that. The designing and marketing are much easier but getting the image of what you want to create out of your head in into a quality garment is hard.
Tell us how Chasing Unicorns came about?
A little while ago I put together a piece that answers this question perfectly…if you feel like a read: "A Little Look at How I Got Here"
What is it like living, running a business and raising a family in Byron Bay?
I adore it. There are so many creative, entrepreneurial people that there is a really uplifting, inspiring sense of community here. People are all in Byron for the lifestyle so everyone is outside and active and running their own businesses because it’s not like the city where there are lots of well-paid employment opportunities. Here people more often than not create their own employment.
You seem to have such a strong sense of personal style, one that inspires so many. Who inspires you in terms of style and fashion?
My sense of style is intrinsic and although I am of course influenced by everything around me, I don’t follow or look at any specific stylish people for inspiration. I more likely to trawl Etsy looking at pieces that I can weave into my aesthetic rather than look at people. My style isn’t trend based. If anything, I usually rebel against trends because I don’t really like looking like other people.
Is it easy living a consciously greener lifestyle? How do you make it work with such a busy lifestyle, 4 kids and a fashion label? Do you have any tips?
I think it’s easy if you just break it down to individual choices and then stick to those choices. For instance, we decided before we had Phoenix (our eldest) that we would not use disposable nappies, only cloth reusable ones, and from the moment he was born we did that and continued to do so with all our other kids too. I haven’t found it hard at all but that’s because I never gave myself the option of the easier, more convenient and much more wasteful disposable route. I knew that if I did, then all of a sudden the cloth ones would seem hard but because it’s all I ever used, I didn’t see it as hard just as normal. I apply this ethos to lots of my decisions. For instance, If you’re going to compost, do it all the time so it just becomes a habit and “normal”, not “hard”.
Where did your love of vintage come from?
My parents. Definitely. We have very different tastes aesthetically and era preferences but they love antique, handmade things and I grew up at flea markets and estate auctions surrounded by the old and handcrafted. They always promoted collecting things you love. I always loved clothes and have collected them for literally as long as I can remember.
What are your tips for sourcing the most unique and good quality vintage, what should one look for and where?
I use Etsy a lot because you can find pretty much anything you want on there but you have to search actively. I’ll get a vision of what I’m wanting to manifest and then type in a bunch of random words like “1920s mesh embroidered lawn dress” and see if I can find what I want. Etsy isn’t cheap but it’s a great sourcing venue. If I’m going to a flea market then I’m not actively searching for anything specific but roaming with an open mind looking for things to grab me.
With Chasing Unicorns you have stated that you will never open a bricks and mortar store much to all our distress, why is this?
I don’t think I’ve ever said “never”! I just think let things happen organically and know how far to stretch yourself. I still have 2 kids around me on most days so 9-5 shop is not an option for me to man. It's also a priority for me to keep my operating costs down so that I can keep offering you clothes at the prices I do. If I were to wholesale, everything would have to retail for twice as much money and although increasing my operating costs wouldn’t have as a dramatic effect as doubling, it would inevitably make prices go up. I use very expensive fabrics and expensive, time-consuming, and ethical production techniques so being a small online business, I can offer a really high-quality product at way below the norm prices.
How would you describe the Chasing Unicorns woman?
Free-spirited, free-thinking, intelligent, confident and individual
You have travelled this world a lot, where for you is the most beautiful place?
I found beautiful things everywhere I went!!!! Favourites were Reunion Island, Morocco, Portugal, Columbia + New Zealand, all for many different reasons. Sometimes it was the landscape, sometimes the architecture, sometimes it was the hospitable open hearts of the people that were what made the place so beautiful.
Your clothes make everyone feel so beautiful, what makes you feel beautiful?
When I’m with my family, wearing something carefully considered, carefully made and more often than not old and filled with other lives + stories.
If you could design for any decade past which would it be and why?
It would be the 30s. I love old Hollywood glamour, Art Deco style and late 20s/early 30s Parisian bohemian. I love the cotton's and silks used back then and I love the feminine cuts. Although I’m hugely influenced by the 70s also, the abundant polyester they used pushes that decade into second place favourite with regards to this question.
Do you only wear vintage? Why?
No. I wear some new stuff too but probably about 90% vintage. I only buy new if the quality of it is comparable to vintage quality. I love handmade, artisan clothing and it’s definitely possible to find some small labels making pieces this way that are worthy of bring worn alongside beautiful vintage.
What is the honest to god truth about living on a bus with 4 kids and your husband? Is it something you would do again?
I honestly loved it and would totally do it again! It was really liberating getting rid of heaps of furniture and things that I realised I actually didn’t need because I didn’t miss them in the slightest. As the boys got older, we definitely needed more privacy and space (hence relocating the house this past Jan) but the 3 years snuggled in the bus together was really beautiful. Less definitely is more!
Who is your all-time muse dead or alive?
Cliche as it is, no one beats Jane Birkin
Your kids all have the most incredible names (I'm so jealous) how did you choose them?
Haha! Thank you. All of them were named in utero. The names just seemed to fit the energy of the person inside me. They are all significant to us and in all 4 cases, my husband and I agreed on them. For those who don’t know, their names are: Phoenix Zowie, Sky Kala Thunder, Tala River and Coda Cassidy.
How do you stay grounded whilst being inundated by all things fashion worldy?
I’m so not in the “fashion world” even though I’m in fashion. There is nothing pretentious about this label. It’s all about authenticity. I’m never worried about being perceived as “cool” or my clothes being seen as “cool”. That stuff really isn’t important to me and I think that trends and fleeting fashion is so bad for the world that even if it looks good, it’s uncool. What’s cool to me is being conscious and genuine in our life choices and in our appearance. Clothes make women feel beautiful and that’s the aspect of fashion that I like but not the industry itself.
What are some things you really believe in?
I kind of covered this above but what I most believe in is being authentic and true to myself. Making conscious choices that I truly believe in. Happiness and success in life are really contingent on living genuinely. Social media breeds a culture where people worry a lot about appearances and perception and this is NOT something I believe in. It’s easy to “look” one way but actually living that way is what’s most important.
What are your favourite life lessons you’ve grown to love?
Acceptance of doing my best vs being “perfect”. When I was young, I was a total perfectionist and worried about what other people thought about me. Now I’m completely comfortable with being imperfect and content in knowing I genuinely tried.
Would you ever be able to live in a city?
Never. I love the energy and culture and food in cities but I could never live there. I need wide open space and freedom and only want to raise my children close to the earth not in an urban environment.
Why do you mostly use the same models in your photo shoots?
For a few reasons. For one, the girls I use regularity truly reflect this brand in their own individual life choices, thus they are authentic ambassadors. I don’t wish to pay a model to be the face of my brand and have them also represent a giant fast fashion business that is the antithesis of what I believe in. I don’t want people to wear my clothes only because they are paid to. Also, these women are true friends and it’s very easy and effortless to work with them. I won’t lie to you, I feel overstretched and crazy busy in my juggling roles so with models and shoots easy and effortless is crucial. That said, diversity is a good thing so it’s by no means a closed group, my model choices. New conscious lifestyle babes are always welcome!
Your kids look really free-spirited. Is this something you actively promote?
Yes, absolutely. I want my kids to have a strong sense of self and the confidence to be individuals. I want to raise non-conformists. I think this is largely due to me being from the east coast of America where there is a lot of social pressure to conform to societies expectations and standard of “success”. I want my kids to know that they are amazing as they are and will do all kinds of great things by following their hearts and doing it their own way. As they get older, they will inevitably become aware of social norms so one of the best things about being children, is the unawareness of convention.
We received so many amazing questions about Sarahs unique and inspiring personal style so we thought we would pop together an exclusive and oh so dreamy edit featuring Sarah's favourites from the current collection styled in the way she would rock them every day!