By Lauren Ferrone
When Tessa Kirk opened Loxton’s fashion boutique Frankie & Dandelion three months ago, little did she know women from Adelaide would make the three hour trip to buy her handmade garments.
“Women from Adelaide actually come into the shop and say they struggle to find in the city what we have here in the shop,” Tessa says.
“It’s really interesting because you often think it’ll be the other way around. Everyone has been so supportive, so I’ve been very lucky,” she adds.
When the 24-year-old fashion designer isn’t at her shop, Tessa drives more than 200 kilometres to source fabric and work with Adelaide agents who represent some of the other brands at her shop.
She also “confines [herself]” to her sewing room at least twice a week to keep up with the number of customers wanting her handmade pieces.
“Designing my own label is all I remember ever wanting to do; it’s all I pursued through high school,” she says.
Tessa, who has lived in the Riverland since the age of two, regularly travelled to Adelaide during her school holidays to complete work experience at Malvern’s high end couture fashion brand, Alexis George.
“George was a fantastic mentor and guided me a lot. I got to the end of year 12 and a traineeship opportunity popped up in a fashion boutique in Loxton,” she says.
Tessa was torn between her love for designing and working in retail.
“George encouraged me to stick with retail before following my passion for design. I ended up falling equally in love with the retail side of things, and loved talking to and helping women,” she says.
It wasn’t until the birth of Tessa’s son in 2013 when her two loves for designing and retail came together and she created Frankie & Dandelion’s online boutique.
Now a few years later, she has opened her shop in Loxton; ironically the same shopfront she completed her traineeship.
As a young mum, Tessa’s philosophy behind her label is to support women.
“I come from a family filled with women. We’re all different shapes and sizes, and we’re all at different life stages. Some of us are new mums, mums with grown kids, and some not mothers at all,” she says.
With a vision to create a label that could be worn by all women, Tessa says “women everywhere have the same needs; whether in the city or country”.
“My designs are especially ‘breastfeeding friendly’. I wanted mums to be able to feed their babies easily and without feeling restricted in what they’re wearing,” she adds.
A Frankie & Dandelion staple is Tessa’s handmade kimono style range.
“Women of all ages, including breastfeeding mums love this shape and it comes in a huge variety of colours and prints,” she says.
Tessa has just released her latest kimono range of new colours and prints in time for Christmas.
With help from husband Michael, sister and mum, Tessa’s filling a gap in the region’s retail fashion space.
“So many people I went to school with spoke about one day leaving Loxton to follow their dreams,” she says.
“Loxton may be a small town, but I’ve travelled to towns even smaller and the women there might be lucky to even have a post office and grocery store.
“In all honesty, it has not been my desire to leave. I love the region, the people in it and I’m just about supporting women in general because that’s what I’m most passionate about.”
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