After working for two of Australia's most popular fashion labels, Lover and Kirrily Johnston, the talented Brenda Harvey decided to channel her energy into creating her own line of luxury accessories under the label Benah, her childhood nickname.
After catching my eye with her Kodi Mini Bag which is fast gaining cult status in Australia and overseas, I wanted to learn more about this talented designer and her experiences in the fashion industry.
1. Benah is your long term passion project realised. Why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion?
I always knew that I would work in a creative industry, and that I always wanted my own thing. Working in fashion was a natural progression of things that just came together. At school I was drawn to graphics and architecture. Even today if I wasn’t working in fashion I think that I would be an industrial designer. Moving to Sydney was a big turning point for me and opportunities came my way, which made the dream of having my own brand more of a reality.
2. You have decided to focus your label on accessories such as beautiful scarves, belts and bags. What was your decision behind doing so?
I come from a garment background so accessories were not the obvious choice. The more I thought about creating my own brand the more it just felt right. I love accessories and the freedom they allow you to have. From a business point of view it was something I could produce at a certain level of quality while still making an accessible product.
I think travelling a lot even though you tend to be surrounded by people, can be quite isolating. I learnt from a very young age that it was ok to enjoy you own company and essentially be alone. It taught me independence. Growing up in the country you really needed to make the best of what you had. You are definitely your most creative with limited resources. This has come in very handy when starting a small business! My upbringing has shaped me as a person and defines my creative process, which in turns flows into the design of each piece.
4. You have collaborated with your partner, film-maker Ben Briand for your SS 09/10 campaign Castor & Pollux and your SS 2011 campaign Living/Light. How did these collaborations come about and how have they helped your brand?
I really encourage and enjoy the collaborative process. You learn more when you are open with your ideas and share your knowledge and experience. I once read that the more you’ give away’ the more comes back to you. I really believe in this.
Ben is a very talented man and also my future husband so I am very lucky indeed. I love all the films and imagery we have done together and even looking back on it now, being a few years old, I still love them and they don’t feel dated as a lot of other fashion imagery does. It has given Benah a point of difference, which is very important in this industry.
5. You have a Facebook page for your label and you have an online store for your products. Why do you believe it is important to have an online presence for your brand in this day and age?
These days having a digital footprint isn’t so much an option it is a necessity. You connect with your customers directly and you are able to foster a global brand. There are no boarders, time zones have no meaning and the seasons are all blending into one. As online shopping has firmly cemented itself as the next retail frontier, keeping up to date and being relevant is so important. It’s a big wide world out there with so much potential. The possibilities are endless.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview!
Images from Benah's You Promise Me collection taken by Ben Briand:
Images from http://thebenah.com.au, http://stylemeromy.com, Brenda Harvey