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family sews best

by Luke Ryan

Photos Bri Hammond

Created in collaboration with National Craft Month at Spotlight

The ladies of UNC. – Alpine frontwoman Phoebe Baker, plus mum Pobby and cousin Kate – make some mighty cool jumpsuits. You might have seen a bit of them in frankie 82 (on sale now!) Here, we have a sticky beak around their Melbourne workshop and ask some impertinent questions.

Working with family isn’t high on a lot of people’s ambition lists. How did UNC. come about? Kate: Well, it was a bit of serendipity. I’d just moved to Melbourne from Perth, and Phoebe and I both arrived at our cousin’s 21st in identical jumpsuits. We got a little bit drunk and started talking about how much we loved these things, and just came up with this ridiculous idea to start a fashion label that only sold jumpsuits.

How did Pobby get roped in? Phoebe: We could both sew, but it certainly wasn’t our forte. That’s where Mum came in. She’s an incredible sewer. I don't know if she loves jumpsuits herself, but she certainly loves sewing and making them. She’s already made like 30 for me to perform in. Kate: I reckon it was a year before we ran the idea past her and she was like, “Just do it. And I’ll help.” Pobby: At a basic level, I love teaching the girls to sew. They always had a natural interest growing up, but now thanks to the business we get to make it a priority.

So, why do you love jumpsuits so much? Phoebe: Jumpsuits just make me think about David Bowie, Grace Jones, the original Charlie’s Angels. There’s something so powerful about them. You feel like you can do anything while you're wearing one. No need to worry about shirts coming untucked or skirts flying up. Zip it up and you're done! It's literally the only thing I'll wear on stage. I put one on and I feel like I'm strapping on a suit of armour.

Do you all bring different skills to the (sewing) table? Pobby: Absolutely. It's a good learning curve for all of us. The girls are learning about business, and I'm learning how to sew better. Phoebe: Mum takes lead on the sewing, while Kate and I do more of the before and after stuff. Personally, I love refining the details and making nice seams. There’s something so satisfying about doing craft and doing it well.

How has it been working with family? Kate: It’s great! We were certainly super-conscious of the risks associated with a family business when we started. Basically we decided that if it ever stopped being fun, then we’d stop doing it. Phoebe: We're lucky in that we can fit it in amongst our regular lives. I love that the workshop is at the family house and people can drop in and out. Just having a gin and tonic and chatting and sewing and dreaming up new ideas is the best part. Kate: Whatever happens, it’s really taught me that you can just give things a go. It’s so easy to say I'd really love to do that, but never quite do it. Sometimes you just need a nudge from your great-aunt to get things moving.

This excellent bit of studio-perving was brought to you by National Craft Month at Spotlight – celebrating creative families and getting together with loved ones for crafty good times.

Want to see more lovely UNC. jumpsuits? Head here.

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