Her story reads like a potential film script, from her excommunication with her familial home at the tender age of 18 to her teen pregnancy a year later and a hop, skip and a sewing machine to Home Is Here. Asked who would play her in the story of her life and Bianca Easdown, the true star of this show, selects a powerhouse comedic line-up in the form of Rebel Wilson (“though she’d have to go brunette”), Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls is my all-time fave show”) and Melissa McCarthy, “I think seeing (Melissa) play my most awkward moments would be HILARIOUS!”
In reflection of her tremendous trio, Bianca herself is an inimitable role model to her three young children, Gracie, Ryan and Leo. “I’ve been independent ever since 18 and I couldn’t imagine a different life, this is where I’m meant to be,” she asserts. Trying her hand as a pastry chef following Leo’s arrival, she later abandoned it in search of something which could afford her more time with her kids. “I was given a sewing machine two years ago and the rest is history!”
It was her father-in-law who unknowingly handed the creator the tools to her eventual success. “I played around with it for a long time making random things for the kids,” says Bianca, who also cites YouTube as an undoubted source of learning and inspiration. Though speaking of inspiration, it was and continues to be Bianca’s children who serve as the maker’s ultimate muse. “It always came back to what they would like,” she says, citing their personalities, personal style, likes and dislikes as key sources of creativity for her designs. “I had this idea in my head to try and make a bag, so I played around with that for a while and I loved using different fabrics and trying new things and it grew from there! I started selling the first bags under a different name, but I found my focus and where I wanted to take my little business and changed the name and logo to Home Is Here.” Officially relaunching her business on 24 April 2015, there was no doubt that Home was most definitely Here.
A purveyor of solutions to storage for the typical family home overrun with toys and general childhood debris, Bianca laughingly admits that “neat and tidy” are unquestionably second nature. However, with three kids to keep track of, her once always immaculate house must now settle for suitably tidy, a status shared by mothers the world over (myself included). “There’s not enough time in my day for cleaning, so I actually use a lot of my own bags around the place to hide mess!” she says.
That busy working woman, plus kids, equation lends itself perfectly to Bianca’s chosen slogan if she were ever to create a Home is Here design for herself: “Must be too early/not enough coffee,” she laughs. So, with a refill of the finest coffee beans steaming beside her, I’m keen to know more about the maker’s creative process. “When I create something new, it always starts with a badly drawn picture on paper,” she admits. “Then I’ll make a pattern and normally stick the pattern together to see if it will work. I play around with it from there, make a sample, normally show a few close friends for input and keep working on it until I’m happy and then it ends up on the virtual shelves.”
From her super cool backpacks and funky handbags to her range of storage bags in varying sizes, Bianca knows how to put the fun in functional with prints that transport you back to the 90s, add a pop of colour bright and others that do exactly what they say on the “tin”. Collecting fabrics from local supply shops in and around Melbourne, where Bianca lives with her trio of offspring and her fiancé, the maker is no stranger to online stores and in “a big exciting change” she has even started designing her own fabric. “I’ve been dabbling with designing and drawing my own prints (one is online as we speak) and I’ll be experimenting with lots of different dying, printing and painting over the coming months to bring some more individuality to our range,” she says.
“When I first started, I literally sat in my kitchen at a table with a few small bags of fabric strewn around the floor. I now have a small corner of my living room, but I have a big work station, big enough for my three machines,” Bianca explains of her home office set up. “Luckily I have a handy man on tap, so we recently made an office area in the kitchen for me to pack orders and store excess fabric. When I have a big work night planned though, the couches, the floor, the kitchen and my work station are normally all in play, meaning my poor fiancé is generally squished in a corner watching TV!” The sacrifices of running a business from home!
Yes there may be losses of personal space and of time spent together, but sometimes those things must be briefly set aside to allow the magic to happen. From pieces of fabric come unique pieces of wearable art, the part of the process, Bianca says, that makes it all worthwhile as she watches her ideas come to life. “After that first sample is made with a new fabric, the best bit is turning it out and seeing the finished result!” Making room in her home and her life for her business, the designer asserts that night-time holds the greatest freedom to allow her time alone with her ideas and her sewing machine. Though while she would opt to work to blaring music, three sleeping kids means her background noise comes courtesy of her TV-bound fiancé!
During waking hours, Bianca’s eldest two try their best to covet their talented Mum’s creations for themselves. “My kids love most of what I make,” says the designer, “my older two especially! My youngest would be a perfect backpack model if he would cooperate, but being three he has no interest in anything that doesn’t come in a chip packet!” Her children and fiancé always, unequivocally, come first and with no family support that means work occasionally gets set aside. “I started this business to help my family out and they shouldn’t suffer for me to work, and they are first priority, always,” says Bianca.
In addition to her line of fashion-tastic bags, Home is Here is also “home” to a collection of funky softie “weirdo” toys but Bianca has no plans to stop there. “We love our product range as it is, but I want to grow,” she says, “so we will be looking into wholesale and small shops to stock our range in the future and I have had a dream for as long as I have had this business to have a small collection of children’s clothing. It WILL happen one day, not just yet though.” Mind you, did you all see the awesome Bart (Simpson) dress Bianca made for mini Belles and Bruisers’ stylista, Sid? It seems that dream may be getting closer!
On the subject of fellow small biz brands, Bianca recently teamed up with Kapow Kids’ maker Andrea to apply the latter’s latest prints to some fabulous Home is Here creations, including Splatter, Cheetah and Soft Serve. “When we first started I never dreamed any of the businesses we have worked with would have EVER considered us to collaborate with,” confesses Bianca, “they’ve been our personal faves for EVER! Our newest collab is with Kapow Kids and we are extremely excited about it! Kapow was one of the first brands we bought after being introduced to the world of small biz online shopping, so it’s a big honour to have been asked!”
As for what else is on the collaborative agenda for the remainder of 2016, Bianca hints at exciting things ahead including a fashion foray overseas, though she’s keeping the fine print under wraps for now. “Most are in the early planning stages,” she says, “so I can’t give too many details but this year is PACKED with awesome-ness and we can’t wait to show everyone what we are working on!” Championing her fellow small business owners and makers with providing her the support network she has come to rely on in paving her way to success, Bianca says, “I have made so many friends online through my biz and they are a really great resource for honest opinions, advice and support about anything I need! It has definitely played a big part in where I am today, without the small biz community it would be hard to get my name and products out there! Small biz mamas are the biggest customers I have too!”
Many of those makers and mamas will be gathering at the must-attend event, otherwise known as Swagger Child Market, next weekend in Melbourne. Bianca is a regular at the quarterly style summit, revelling at the opportunity to share some face time with her loyal client base and fellow Swagger alum. “Swagger has been a massive part of our business! We always get our best feedback from markets, and seeing repeat customers coming back market after market really makes me smile, seeing them make a beeline to our stall because they already know they need more bags always gives me such a high!” says the maker.
From small businesses come big dreams, something Bianca states those wishing to join the small biz ranks must prioritise above all else. “The best piece of advice I was given was to not listen to anyone telling you that you can’t do something you’ve dreamed of,” she says. “They are trying to keep you from growing. They want you to stay small, for their own benefit. If you want it, do it!” Wise words indeed from someone who has defied the odds to literally turn her dreams into part of the furniture, “I only use fabrics and materials that I would love in my own home and on my own kids,” she says. It is that personal touch and genuine excitement over creating a product that serves as the key to making a success of something. “Don’t make what you think will be popular or “in trend”, create what makes you happy,” says Bianca.
Running her own business, raising her children and proving that home is wherever real love and respect exist, Bianca has established a brand that reflects her journey to a tee. Home is both present in the assorted content of childhood paraphernalia kept in the storage bags she sews and in her backpacks and bags worn by children intent on keeping that essence of home close while they explore the possibilities beyond. My four year old won’t leave the house without her Gummy Bear handbag, the perfect vessel for the treasures she finds. Because no matter where you go, this maker has woven home into the very fabric of your everyday, with the clear message that near, far or wherever you are, Home is Here.