24 Hours With… St Agni
Waking up to the sound of kookaburras, a daily walk along the beach and a day spent designing the clothes we want to live in… St Agni designer and co-founder Lara Fells has surely cracked the code on the good life. With her consciously-minded approach to design and the influence of her breathtaking Byron Bay surroundings, we find out what it takes to run a values-driven brand.
“Taking a moment in Apartamento, our boutique Byron Bay accomodation, prior to entering the St.Agni office for the day.”
What time do you wake up and where?
I usually wake up each day at around 6.50am. I share a bed with my husband Matt and three-year-old son Jude (we put him to sleep in his own room but somehow, he always crawls into our bed through the night). Our house backs onto the bush, so we’re surrounded by nature and usually wake up to the sound of kookaburras.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I walk the Lighthouse coastal track every morning, which takes you to Eastern-most point of Australia, through the beach and the rainforest. I’ve been trying to stay active and use the time to be outdoors before heading to the office, plus I love using it as an excuse to catch up with a friend and have a big chat.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, we have a Cavoodle named Harper. He’s basically our eldest son and comes everywhere with us, and is a constant companion in the office.
What does your average day look like?
7am: Lighthouse walk
8am: Coffee and breakfast
9am: Get ready for work
9.30am: Head into the office
10am-4pm: Meetings and emails – I normally just go where the day takes me and where I’m needed most.
4pm: Pick up Jude from daycare.
5pm: Beach walk with Harper.
7.30pm: Put Jude to bed.
8pm: Have a cup of tea and relax.
9pm: Get ready for bed.
Do you have any rituals?
I don’t really have a ritual as such, though I like simple pleasures - like my first coffee of the morning. From there, I very much go with the flow.
Where is your studio located and how do you get there?
Our design studio, warehouse and HQ is part of Soko space, a space we curated with a coffee shop, art gallery, florist and our boutique accommodation, Apartamento. Soko Space is in The Byron Bay Arts and Industrial Estate - a fast-growing and amazing area full of emerging brands and like-minded creatives. We’re lucky to be a part of the community here. It’s unique in the way that it’s Byron Bay’s version of industrial – as it’s located 5 minutes from the beach and is home to lots of boutique cafes and shops.
“Range planning in the design room with Erika Toscano, our Head Designer.”
“Inside our beautiful Byron Bay flagship store.”
How would you describe what you do?
I’m the Creative Director and co-founder of St. Agni. Since the brand started my role in the business has continued to evolve. I wear a few different hats in the day to day, from working with our design team on upcoming collections, to working with the marketing team on our strategies, to meeting with our retail teams and merchandising our stores, to doing payroll and accounting. In all honesty, no two days are the same for me and I’m grateful for that as it allows me to continue to be connected to each touch point of the business even through incredible growth.
How has your background influenced who you are today?
I grew up in Tasmania (an island at the bottom of Australia) and lived in a little cottage with my Mum, Dad and sister. My mum is one of the hardest workers I know; she’s really driven and has an enormous amount of strength. I learnt so much from watching her throughout my childhood - it’s only now I realise how unique that kind of work ethic and passion is, and how much this impacted my own values. My Dad is the creative.
As a child, I would always try to encourage my family members to start businesses… I would tell my grandma to turn her front room into a florist and my dad to exhibit his metalwork in a gallery. I found business exciting, I loved the idea of creating and sharing with the community. Starting St. Agni never felt like a decision, rather a natural progression into something that was inherent in me.
How did you get your start in fashion?
My background is in retail. I started working in a chain retail store aged 14. I learnt so much from being customer-facing and I’m so grateful for this time in my life.
Who has had the most formative influence on your practice?
It’s a combination of people - my mum for her work ethic, my sister Paris for her brutal honesty, Bianca Gregg our sales agent from Del Rainbow for her passion. I'm lucky to be surrounded by these kinds of people - they are magnetic.
“Fittings with our very talented in-house patternmaker Annette Carter.”
“My husband Matt and my son Jude.”
What are the most important factors in your work?
I’ve always had strong values, but they’ve become really clear over the last 18 months with the turmoil we have experienced around the world. The most important factor of my work is creating strong, honest relationships with our customers, retail partners, and staff. I really believe human connection is one of the most important factors in any kind of success.
What kind of music do you play whilst you work?
I’ve been told I have terrible music taste, so my team always choose what we listen to at work. They created a Spotify playlist for Browns, which I love.
Whilst working, where do you go and what do you do to take a break?
I don’t take breaks when in the office - I work through so I can spend more time with Jude in the mornings or afternoons.
Do you have a favourite piece from your latest collection?
I’m living in the Thea Knit Trousers - I’m 20 weeks pregnant and they have actually saved me. I pair them back with a blazer and shirt for a classic and minimal look. I also love the Ava Knit Dress from our Browns exclusive capsule collection.
Who would you most like to see wearing your pieces?
I really love seeing women in our community wearing St. Agni. It makes me so proud that we have created something that’s accessible to a variety of women and I’m incredibly humbled by any customer that shops St. Agni.
“Taking my dog Harper for a beach stroll.”
“My bedtime routine - a nightly ritual.”
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
I’m currently reading The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley. I recommend it to anyone who has a business.
What do you usually do for dinner?
My husband Matt and I always cook together. Normally I'm in charge of salads and he cooks the meat.
What time do you go to bed?
I normally go to bed at around 9pm, however, most of the time I fall asleep on the couch before I even get there.
Last thing you do before you sleep?
Kiss Matt goodnight!
What do you dream about?
I don’t remember my dreams at the moment – I'm a pretty heavy sleeper.
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