WHEN you pick up most of the kids' clothes in major department stores these days, you see the words 'Made in China' on the label.
But a backyard seamstress from Larnook is reversing the trend with her reversible clothes and accessories.
Parents picking up clothes in the fashionable Lane Crawford department stores of Beijing and Hong Kong will be seeing 'Made in Australia' labels on Dianne Alberth's Wanawara brand as she exports from her Northern Rivers home to the world.
Dianne has been making kids' clothes and selling them at the Bangalow and Byron Bay markets for about five years. A chance encounter with an appreciative customer has opened doors and had Dianne sewing around the clock.
The customer was Ross Urwin, the creative director of home and lifestyle for Lane Crawford. He obviously liked what he saw and put in an order for 152 items.
"I was sceptical of the email at first. I thought it was a hoax," Dianne said. "But it shows you can get fantastic exposure at the local markets."
Dianne's clothes and accessories will be placed alongside big name labels such as Givenchy and Stella McCartney when they are officially launched in Hong Kong on April 16.
"I'm hoping mixing with those well known designers, at that level, will give my brand increased exposure," Dianne said. "If it sells well, there could be ongoing orders. That's what I'm hoping for."
Dianne said she started sewing her own kids' clothes after the birth of her twins, Tianna and Tara, because off-the-shelf items didn't fit.
"So really, they gave me my business," she said.
Dianne was working at Centrelink when she started sewing. She always hoped that the business would make enough income to allow her to quit her day job.
"I really wanted to be able to work around my kids... This allows me to help at school and I can put it down between home time and when the kids go to bed."
Until now, her clothes have only been available from one retailer in Melbourne, one in Byron Bay, and from Dianne at the markets.
"I've had a lot of support at the markets from people who are looking for something unique and handcrafted... All of my clothes are reversible. I'm not sure if that was a selling point, but I spend a lot of time researching fabrics and wherever possible I use Australian products," she said.
"I'm very possessive about my product. If it takes off and I can't cope with the work load, I'll get another parent who can work the hours to suit them, rather than give it out as piece work."