Growing up riding their bikes on the street until dusk, listening to Nirvana and the Pixies, and spending way too much time dreaming about being rock stars is what Kelli, the founder and Creative Director of Anarkid, drew upon when creating their latest label.
Children are born with the innate ability to imagine and dream far beyond their own experiences. Their minds are pure and full of magic. Anarkid believes that we should engage, encourage and explore that magic in our children. By embracing the wonder and the chaos, we reignite the passions and the dreams that we all have locked within us. The Anarkid new collection ‘The Dreamer’ is inspired by the wonderous, endless potential that each and every child has within them.
Time for an interview with Kelli.
Would you mind introducing yourself and your brand to our readers?
Hello. I am Kelli, the founder and Creative Director of Anarkid. We are a Melbourne born kids label that was conceived with an idea and a laptop, that now runs out of Sydney and Melbourne, with a growing International team. We care about the world we live in, and we believe we can have a positive impact on making it a better place. We are passionate about ethical manufacturing and work practices. If we have just a small impact on the world we hope that we encourage free thinking, a love of art and always a little touch of Anarchy.
What was your background prior to starting Anarkid?
I am a qualified Graphic Designer, and have been obsessed with Design and Art since I was about 15. I studied Graphic Design at University and immersed myself in the local band scene in Melbourne. We worked really hard, and partied even harder. Prior to Anarkid I worked in studios and agencies in Melbourne on super exciting brands such as Porsche, Bang & Olufsen, Witchery and many more. I cut my teeth in an industry where long hours were the norm and we always had to think out of the box.
How did you develop your skills as a designer?
For me personally I am very influenced by my surroundings. Both my kids at home and the world at large. I think we have a responsibility as creators to do something worthwhile. I have been a designer in some form most of my life, but when I entered the fashion realm, I really had to start from the beginning again. I have developed my skills by trial and error, and endless hours of working on my iMac! Each range would probably have 300-400 different design options before we finally arrive at the end range. Over the last few years the belief in myself has grown and I trust my gut. We try not to focus too much on what we think the end buyer will want, as we aim to be visionaries, and give them what they don’t know they want yet!
At what age did you first notice art around you?
I think as a visual person, you see art in everything. But it takes a while to realise that not everyone sees the world that way. I often see the world as a series of patterns – lines and shadows inside my house, or colour gradients in the sky. My personal hate is when I see outdoor installations made that have no cohesion with the environment around it. The environment is just as important element as that of the art that sits within it. I also realised quite young that my mood could be very affected by my surroundings. I also believe that art is within us, not just around us. We live in an era of conforming, and being afraid to offend, which is the antithesis of art.
What sort of clothes and or accessories did you enjoy wearing as a child and what did you hate wearing?
My fashion style as a kid was always extreme! I had to have the biggest hair, the shortest skirt, or the flounciest tutu. If Id had it my way I would have been walking around looking like Madonna circa Desperately Seeking Susan, or Prince from Purple Rain every day. I can remember being so happy when I had all my hair cut short and a purple rats tail left long at the back, only to have it cut off by the teacher at school! I loved pushing boundaries, but was the only artsy person in my family. Needless to say they didn’t really understand my personal style!
Can you tell us a bit more about your designs from the new collection? What were your inspirations for the new Anarkid looks?
Dreamer evolved out of the purity of childhood. I look at my own kids with their infinite imaginations and belief in themselves. I never want to squash that, at Anarkid we often say that kids are chaos, and we embrace that. Once we start trying to make them conform, they start to lose that innate ability to dream far beyond their own experiences.
How does it feel to see a child wearing Anarkid?
What I love most about seeing kids in Anarkid is the attitude that it gives them. I see kids in Anarkid, and I know that firstly they have the freedom to move! We want them to feel the range. Our dresses are designing to move and spin while you dance. Our shorts and baggies have a pocket that you can stuff in your favourite toy. If I see a kid wearing our clothing and causing a bit of havoc, I know my work is done!
What do you love most about your job?
What job? I love that most of the time it doesn’t feel like a job. I love that my job is so beautifully incorporated into my life. Most nights I work until 11pm to make up for spending time with my kids after school, but it rarely feels like a chore. Creating something from nothing is my biggest joy in life
What is your greatest strength?
I am very determined, and I am also naturally optimistic. This industry (and life) puts so many hurdles in your way, but every time we come across a road block, it makes me every more determined to get over it. There is always a way. It encourages me to work harder, be smarter, do better, be better! There is never any cap on being a better person, its a life long journey.
What is your greatest weakness?
I am terribly messy! And I have a terrible memory (unless its the lyrics to a song, or what someone wore to a party in 1989).
Do you have children?
Yes I sure do. I have Ruby who is 8 and Henry 6 and two crazy staffies.
Where can we find Anarkid?
If one of our readers is in your city, which is, for 24 hours. What things would you recommend they do?
Melbourne is such a magnificent city. Firstly coffee! I would take you to sample why friend Ben Toovey’s award winning roast, followed by breakfast at vegan Sister of Soul in St Kilda by our beautiful bay. We would then catch a tram into the city via the Botanical Gardens and check out the free Art installations at Fed Square. Lunch would be in the graffiti filled lane of DeGraves street and then wander down AC/DC lane to see a few Banksy stencils. A short walk to Brunswick Street to check out the amazing vintage shops and record shops would be a must. I would finish off the might with a few starters at one of Melbourne’s laneway bars, then make our way to one of our live music venues such as The Espy or the Corner Hotel.
Anarkid is committed to fair trade practices throughout the entire manufacturing process. From responsible organic farming to fair treatment of the workers in our factory. They are proud that their factory follows strict ethical, moral and fair trade guidelines so that workers are looked after well, paid fair living wages, are free from discrimination and have the rights to enterprise bargaining. They visit the factory on a regular basis to ensure that high standards are met, both from a quality perspective, but most importantly one of humanity.