Akua & Honest Studios
This first interview on Akua & is with two women who I have known since I was 12 years old. I went to secondary school with Tesa when I lived in Australia, and we quickly became great friends. Suncana is her lovely, talented mum who suffered through many a sleepless night while Tesa and I attempted to learn to sing at 12am! Suncana and Tesa are both owners/designers of Honest Studios - a Melbourne based independent clothing company. They handcraft all their beautiful garments, and I was lucky enough to visit them at their (now old) studio space when I was back in Melbourne in 2019.
Hi guys! Firstly tell me a little bit about what made you set up Honest studios? I know Suncana has been creating and selling clothing for years, and Tesa, you also had your own label at one point. What made you decide to join forces?
Tesa: I guess it was straight after I had graduated and mum asked to be my first client! She wanted me to rebrand her label at the time which was called ‘suncana’ to become Honest Studios and create all the graphics, voice and social media platforms which were becoming essential to running a business at that point. This created the opportunity for us to blend our two businesses in one and be able to expand the brand in so many new areas then if we worked solo.
Suncana: We are a perfect mix of experience & new ideas, pattern making & digital marketing. It’s a perfect marriage of our two skill sets.
How important is sustainability to your brand?
T: Extremely important. The industry that causes the most pollution on our planet is the fashion industry. Which is so sad because fast fashion is so unnecessary. Of course as human beings we need to clothe ourselves, so we want to show and educate people that there is a better way to dress yourself. Rethinking what consumerist habits we have and making better choices to shop less, buy quality timeless pieces from independent labels.
“Buy quality timeless pieces from independent labels”
What is one the of most challenging things about owning your own business?
T: For me it would be not having a guaranteed fixed income no matter how many hours you work that week, staying focused and thinking about the bigger picture can sometimes be hard if you aren’t seeing an instant return.
S: Other than everything? Worrying about not just the creative side of the business but also the legal side, paperwork, deadlines. Not having any security, if you get sick or can’t show up there’s no one that can fill in for you.
What is one of the most rewarding things about owning your own business?
T: THE FREEDOM! With all the responsibility comes all the choice! That really is the best part, running your own life!
S: I agree! Sometimes if it’s a perfect sunny afternoon we run away to the beach. We pay the consequences but we decide if its worth it and sometimes it really is.
“Sometimes if it’s a perfect sunny afternoon we run away to the beach”
Australia has been going through some of the most devastating bush fires it has ever seen – it’s something that is making the whole world really look at the state of climate change. It can be stressful as an individual to know how you can help and affect change. Do you have any tips/things you personally do to be environmentally conscious?
T: There are so many little things I do now that I don’t even think about anymore. Bringing my own mug to coffee shops, never using small plastic bags for fruit and veggies, trying to avoid buying anything in single use plastics or packaging (buying bulk from health food stores makes this super easy!), using bamboo toothbrushes, making my own natural face scrubs, household cleaners, moisturiser, shampoo (just think of all the packaging and waste from household products alone). Each little new habit you make helps!
S: Try not to drive so much, watch where your food is coming from (local is best), watch where your clothes are coming from, make your footprint as small as possible.
What is your favourite part about living in Melbourne?
T: The cultural diversity brings the most amazing selection of food, music and events from all our the world. Pretty lucky considering how far away we are!
S: The cool urban Melbourne fashion culture and of course the coffee.
Imagine I’m coming to Melbourne for one day only and I’ve never been before - what are some of your favourite places that you would recommend for...
Faraday’s Cage Fitzroy
Half Moon Bay Beach Brighton
Very Good Falafel Brunswick or Just Falafs Fitzroy North
Vodka Borsh & Tears Prahran or Elsternwick
And finally, in each interview I will be making a small donation to a charity of the interviewee’s choice. Which charity would you like to highlight and why?
WWF Australia! To help restore the forests and wildlife after these devastating bushfires.
Thank you again to Tesa and Suncana for your time and for letting me come into your studio and photograph you. Honest Studios clothing is available on their website honeststudios.com.au You can also find them in store at Honest & Friends on 201 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Photos by Akua
Clothing by Honest Studios
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 2020