9 questions to Annabelle Hardie

There are few things we love more than a good statement accessory and Annabelle Hardie’s colourful jewellery pieces are perfectly fitting the bill. Taking her slow fashion ethics from Australia to Spain, she agrees to tell us more about the story behind the brand.

1. When did you start working on Annabelle Hardie, and when did you launch? 

I officially started working on Annabelle Hardie in the summer of 2016. Previously I had a very colourful jewellery label Three Lives Collide with my best friend in Australia, but she didn’t have time to work on it with me anymore. I had also been doing some bridal design here in Madrid, so I decided to combine my two loves under one roof and Annabelle Hardie was born.

2. What made you want to start a jewellery brand? 

My love for jewellery all started many moons ago on school-summer holidays at the beach. My friends and I weren’t allowed outside in the brutal Australian sun in the middle of the day, so we would go to a bead shop and learn to make necklaces. From then on, I always had a little supply of beads and tools on me. I went on to become a high-school hustler and made jewellery to order for formals and school dances for my boarding house friends for some extra pocket money.

3. What did you study? Did you work in this industry prior to launching your brand? 

When I left school I decided to give designing a proper crack and started my own label Minterbelle which I ran for several years, traveling to India to source jewellery supplies and had clothes made there too. After lots of wrong decisions running a business as a creative teenager, I let the label go and was hired as the Accessories Designer, Stylist and PA for Lorna Jane, an Australian activewear label for women. I learned a lot working with China and the ins-n-outs of a bigger label, but the travel bug had really got under my skin, so I quit to work several hospitality and admin jobs to save up and I bought an around-the-world ticket and set off with my jewellery tools in my backpack. I bought so many treasures from local tribes and markets that my jewellery kit grew so big that I had to get rid of clothes to fit everything in my backpack! When I got to Barcelona I fell instantly, truly, madly, deeply in love with Spain and I wanted to live here more than anything. Eventually I won a scholarship to IED Madrid to study Fashion Design, specialising in accessories, it was my version of winning the life lottery. I had to learn Spanish as I went and starting out alone in a foreign city was painfully hard, but by the time I graduated I had fallen so truly, madly, deeply in love with Madrid that I decided to stay on working on Three Lives Collide, doing an internship in a marketing agency and teaching English to pay the bills. I finally fell truly, madly, deeply in love with a Madrileño and so here I am, still in Madrid over 8 years later.

4. What does a regular work day look like for you? 

Every day is different and that’s exactly the way I like it… well to be honest, I LOVE that no day or week is ever the same. This is a one-woman show and it’s a lot of work in a lot of different fields, some of which, I’m not good at, at all. Funnily enough, I would say that only around 30% of my time is actually dedicated to designing and making accessories, the rest is book keeping, organising shoots, maintaining my website and Instagram etc.

5. What are the pros and cons of having your own business? 

The biggest pro is being your own boss, working when you want and how you want, which is usually all the time, including weekends! But I wouldn’t have it any other way, the day a creative stops creating, is the day they die, literally or figuratively, I can’t live without creativity pumping through my veins. Of course there are many cons, instability and not knowing when the next decent order and paycheque is going to come along. I teach English on the side to try and make sure I have cash coming in to help pay the bills and reinvest in my business.

6. What advice would you give anyone who wants to start their own brand? 

Be completely honest with who you are and then BE your living, breathing brand. In today’s world I think people want authenticity and they know instinctively when you are trying to be someone you’re not. There is no way of escaping who you and your brand are, you have to be one. You also have to be prepared to live and breathe your work, you have to love it so much that you won’t ever be discouraged when life or the fashion world throws you lemons.

7. How important is sustainability in fashion to you? Does it influence the way you shop? 

The fashion industry has to take a long, hard look at itself and so do we as consumers. Massive fast-fashion labels have changed the way we consume and it’s not healthy for the environment, our psyche nor our wallets. When you make garments and accessories yourself, you quickly realise just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into making a piece, how is it that products in chain stores can cost so little? And that’s just looking at the manufacturing, what about the energy and effort that went into farming the raw materials? We have to relearn how much things are really worth, we have to relearn how to shop. We need to make wise investments in pieces that we truly love, that will last for many years and that our love for them will last too. Too much of landfill is made up of our hasty purchases that haven’t stood the test of time. After being caught up in this fast fashion movement myself, I have been slowing things right down and trying my best to stick to the pace of the slow fashion movement which I hope will become the norm again. I personally love reinventing my look with old pieces, I also love reinventing jewellery pieces that I made 15 years ago, these pieces take on a life of their own. Another part of shopping sustainably is supporting small, local businesses, it keeps your money stimulating the local economy and in the pockets of people who actually care and who will most likely make more wise local investments. We all have a small part to play, vote with your wallet.

8. Name your favourite place, favourite style icon and favourite wardrobe staple. 

After all the places I have traveled far and wide, my favourite place is right where I started, my family’s old sheep and cattle property in Outback Australia where I grew up. There is nothing like an Outback sky lit on fire as the sun sets from up on top the red flat top hills (they look a lot like Uluru), just me and animals running wild and free as far as the eye can see. The colours of those never-ending horizons really come out in my designs subconsciously. There really is no place like home.

Style icon…. my aunty Lyndall. She had her own fashion label back in the 80’s and made glorious linen pieces quite like Gold. I have been lucky enough to be gifted some of her designs over the years from her friends and I recently found some of her clothes in our old dress up box which are so in right now… for example a black, linen crop top with big buttons from the 80’s! What made her so glamorous was her bright lipstick on her big smile, she was infectiously fun. Unfortunately she’s not around anymore but she has proven time and time again she is timeless.

My favourite wardrobe staple would have to be a gold ring my mum had made out of my great grandfather’s cufflink for my 30th birthday, my wedding ring and the diamond in my nose that I got in India 14 years ago, they are the 3 things I never take off and have become a part of me.

9. And finally, what’s your favourite Gold piece? 

The Honfleur suit, hands down. I love natural fabrics, it’s super chic and it would be a great addition to my wardrobe as I know it’s going to be a timeless set.