Fashion designer living a holistic lifestyle – passionate about our earth, humanity, and nature.
I grew up in the world of dance and theatre. My mother had a very large ballet school, so my world growing up was very colourful and I was dancing before I could walk. I moved from New Zealand to Australia when I was 15 to attend a full-time ballet and performing arts school, and following that I went on to pursue a career in musical theatre – that was me into my late 20s. When I wasn’t dancing, I was making my own clothes, costumes, cushions, duvets and decorating my house. When I was 25, mum bought me my very own sewing machine, and that’s where it all began. I started my first homewares brand and called it Emma Jay. I sublimated my dancing and performing into the world of textiles and interiors, which then became my purpose and passion.
But there is another side to me – I have a big picture approach to life. I am passionate about sovereign health, our earth, humanity, and nature, and throughout my personal life journey, living a sustainable and holistic ethos has become a big part of my everyday. So from this heart space, Boem was born, which is such a big extension of all of the things that I am.
Four years ago, I had a vision to create a product that polarised where I saw the world. I wanted to create something with substance that was far removed from the mass produced, over saturated product that flooded our marketplace. I wanted to create something that was soulful, raw, imperfect, and handmade, something different and original that could reconnect us back to the earth and ground us, subtlety. I knew it was going to be something handmade by artisans, and I felt drawn to India. In late 2018, I jumped on a plane to bring my vision to life and fell in love with the place, the people, the opportunities it presented and the world that it opened up to me. The rest is history!
Linen and hemp
Linen and hemp have beautiful, sustainable properties that are in perfect alignment with my ethos. They boast imperfect, raw and tactile qualities. As textiles they are both so earthy. They are natural, healthy, and from an aesthetic perspective, they are perfect to capture the imperfect, effortless, grungy vision I have for my designs.
Homeware x Fashion
While working with one of my factories in India, they fell in love with my ethos and the products I was creating. They were also a garment factory, and the boss, who is now one of my closest friends, invited me to create a garment collection along the lines of my homeware direction. I embraced this wholeheartedly, as I used to make my own clothes, and started straight away. Creating homewares and soft furnishings is immensely rewarding but to create garments is just a little bit next level for me and secretly something I always wanted to eventually do. I am super excited about it, and even more so at the response it has gained.
Boem is for the person who loves comfort, effortlessness, beauty, nature, organic fibres, and bespoke design. It is for the conscious consumer, who recognises the shift that we need to see in product design and manufacturing processes. It is for the woman who loves femininity with a twist, for the urban bohemian, the coastal dweller, and the linen aesthete. Boem is raw, imperfect, edgy, deconstructed, natural, hard wearing and 100% original. Each product is handmade – there is no production line and each piece is made one at a time, dyed by hand, fringed by hand and layered with stitch work that is also done by hand. No two Boem products are alike. Boem brings linen to the city, it has an urban feel with coastal flow.
Unique and rich
My mum used to make all my costumes and put on these very elaborate concerts for her school. I have visions of our house as a child scattered with beautiful costumes and sequins and creative chaos. There was always music playing and the sound of mum on the sewing machine, so I guess a lot of my inspiration has come from her. There has always been an element of theatrics to everything I create and some would say “you are just like your mother”. Combine that with my holistic ethos and the inspiration I draw from nature, voila!
Working with artisanal, handmade products is so important to me! It’s essential for me to create something that has significance, soul, meaning and that offers something much bigger. To create something by hand means a person has imprinted on the product their hand, their heart and their energy. It means the product is original and that I’ve given someone a purpose, a job and significance in their life, an opportunity to work, to earn and to provide. I love this, its circulation, its original design and it’s the change we need to see in the world.
The gift of India
The biggest gift I’ve ever been given was to go to India. The country, the people, the substance, and the opportunities it represents are beyond words. My first trip to India was indescribable. I met so many amazing people and it has literally changed my whole life. During my last trip to India, just before Covid, I ended up in hospital with dengue fever, which could’ve been quite terrifying if it weren’t for the people that I was surrounded by. It became a humbling and nurturing experience for me, and from that my friendships in India have been cemented. The people I work with are like my family. I feel like I could live there and just create magic with them for the rest of my life.
I am entirely grateful and very lucky. Namaste!