Sue Paul is a long way removed from her Invercargill roots. An orginal U-shaped 70’s home in the warm suburbs of Queenslands; Palm Beach seems worlds away from the deep south of NZ. The morning I arrived for a visit I was virtually sweating from my eyeballs until I stepped inside the cool air conditioned interior of her home. This would take some getting used to!
Along with partner Robbie, Sue first arrived in southern Queensland in 1996 in search of the balmy surfers lifestyle. For a few years they skipped between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, chasing work opportunities before a move to the Currumbin Valley in the Gold Coast hinterland in 2000. It was 2003 when they finally put their roots down in the seaside suburbs of Palm Beach. Recently they lucked out in getting their hands on one of the extremely sort after original 70’s homes of the area and are respectfully renovating it to reflect the awesome retro glam of its era. U-Shaped housing …definitely the way of the future!
Despite being a creative soul since childhood and now fully immersed in her own project, Sue – like most of us, took some time to realise her passion. She has studied across law, graphic design and has a degree in Zoology while her work history spans from being a travel agent to accounts administration. She held her most recent full time role from 2000 -2010 as part of the accounts department at Morrison Media (the publishers of Frankie and Smith Journal).
In 2009 she could no longer ignore the itch to get creating. It was a random visit to a local op shop that essentially opened the doors on what is now her own small business. She took home a boxy leather jacket, picked not for its cut but the beautiful softness and quality of the material. It received some serious treatment from a pair of scissors and a sewing machine and was reborn as a supple and roomy handbag. The bag was a hit in the Morrison Media staff room and it wasn’t long before Sue found herself scouring secondhand stores to fill bag orders from her workmates and friends.
Her small domestic sewing machine died a quick (and to be expected) death tackling the thick leathers so she bit the bullet and bought herself an industrial model – immediately reaping the rewards with a faster and easier turnaround of construction. Despite having always been a sewer, she began to feel frustrated and limited at her lack of pattern-making skills. While the bags were an unexpected project, she was enjoying the challenge so much that it was time for some serious decisions and a rejig of priorities needed to be made.
She initially took long service leave from Morrison Media and enrolled in Fashion Design at TAFE. This became all consuming and led to her total resignation so she could fully meet the demands of the 18 month intensive course. During that time she also launched her Etsy store and continued to sell her bags…now to a global customer base.
In September 2012 Sue completed her training and has spent much time researching the future of her brand. Currently selling under the name onceworn twiceloved – following my visit she has been working through a re-branding process, developing and positioning products, and launching a website and online store. In short, she is transforming her hobby into a business and I have no doubt that she has the wheels and grit to give it momentum.
All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
WHAT I LEARNT FROM SUE:
Passion is the fire starter but if you don’t have the right tools or the skills – you need to make the effort to go and get the best ones.