When Covid-19 hit a year ago, many companies were hit hard by lockdowns, restrictions and not being able to travel overseas.
For Ostara Collection founder, Sonya Dukes, it was no different as the shutdown in manufacturing meant she wasn’t able to get any new products.
“As for most people, Covid-19 brought a whirlwind of changes and 'the unknown' to life and business (along with the fact that I was pregnant with my first baby),” she remembers.
“We were hit hard by the shutdown in manufacturing (three new collections were sat for months unable to be sent to us) and by the time we could get it, the Australian dollar had plummeted and shipping skyrocketed, which meant paying over double than anticipated.
“However, I decided to take the time in lockdown and the negative impacts into time to refine my brand, organise remote photoshoots and do some upskilling. We learnt a lot from 2020 but if anything it has made us more resilient and determined to grow the brand.”
After plenty of daydreaming, illustrating and copious amounts of coffee, Dukes started the sleep, lounge and resort label in 2017.
“At the time I was seeing my now-husband, Leonard, and was struggling to find something I could wear at his house while relaxing that wasn't cartoon cutesy PJs or leggings and an old t-shirt.
“I wanted to look cute without looking childish and feel sexy while still being a little modest. I soon realised there was a gap in the market for sleep and loungewear that could be stylish, sexy and functional for the bedroom and beyond.
“I wanted to design something that worked as much at home in my downtime as it did to pop on a pair of jeans and wear down to the local cafe for another latte. I want my customers to feel playful, luxurious and confident while still being modest (you can still answer the front door),” the designer and illustrator adds.
The brand’s prints are bold and bright, blending sleepwear with outerwear and bringing resort style lounging to your home or holiday. All prints are limited edition and illustrated by Dukes in Melbourne.
“I find inspiration from nature and travel. I love blending detail with abstract elements and visualising a time and place for each print eg Jungle Seeker collection was born from my experience in the African jungle in my husband's village, and Golden Hour evokes the warmth of sun and beachside sunset cocktails.
“These visualisations really impact the colours, although I am always drawn more to vibrant tones which make a statement.”
The next collection from Ostara Collection will be more focused on Australia itself, says Dukes. “I have already been working on new collections with inspiration coming from Australia's beautiful coral reefs. I have also been testing new recycled fabrics, which is something I am excited to bring into our collections.”
The brand also recently partnered with Wateraid, donating $1 from every order to improve global access to clean water.
“For me, fashion and wearing prints is a form of art and expression. I also believe that you don’t need to be a millionaire to make a difference.”