Global Inspiration With Geo and Louise: Founders, Cin Cin

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Geo: I was born in Brisbane but my primary school years were spent residing beachside in Auckland, New Zealand. We’d swim in that freezing water and kidnap crabs and Pippi shells. My face painting kit was also a highlight. Growing up, I was in heaven escaping life in my imagination but loathed school. 

Fashion was always just ‘it’ for me. When I was still a nerdy kid in primary school, I had floor to ceiling bedroom wall collages of all the fashion mags. I’d get L’Officiel, Vogue Italia and the massive V Magazines for Christmas and the wonderment was real. I’d even go to the length of untraceably stanley-knifing my fave pages out of all the vogues in the school library. Defacing school property – not cool, but no one else was reading them.

Louise: I grew up in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. Growing up in Brisbane was great - the relaxed lifestyle, warm weather and amazing beaches close by made Brisbane the ideal city. Having completed my high school education at Brisbane Girls Grammar School, they gave me the confidence to enter the workforce and pursue my dreams for all things art, fashion and design. After graduating in Brisbane, I decided to pack my bags and move to Sydney where I based myself for 5 years before making the bold move to South Africa to be with my fiancé. 

I have worked in the fashion industry since the ripe age of 16. Starting on the retail shop floor in a sales position, I progressed to styling, visual merchandising, and eventually to a variety of roles in head office positions. Having completed a Bachelor of Design at the Queensland College of Art majoring in visual communication, I always knew a future in the creative / fashion industry was inevitable. 

Career

Geo: Firstly, we have definitely not made it! In my eyes we are yet to graduate from grade one, but Moda Operandi really does mean something to us. Them stocking our first season was an incredible reciprocation of the excitement we felt for what we’ve created. It confirmed we need to keep forging ahead and developing the brand – that we are onto something! I’ve already learned so much from working with them, and from the small but oh so valuable mentorship relationship we’ve been lucky enough to have with the buyers. It has accelerated our journey into knowing our customer and being able to curate and refine a collection.

I knew we were on to a good thing when the head buyer from Moda Operandi approached us and asked if we would like to sell to Moda.

Moda Operandi is the most innovative, modern, experimental and luxurious multi-brand retailer out there in my eyes. It blows the others out of the water with their modes of selling ie. trunk shows and the way they champion emerging designers in the name of curating an experience of fashion discovery for their audience. So yes, I must admit, I shed a tear when I saw our product on Moda Operandi – but that was quickly cut-short by a new set of gut-wrenching deadlines. 

From our light-bulb moment to launch day, it took us over 12 months. Our challenge was clear from the outset and that was creating our product. There is a reason there are only a handful of printed silk brands and why most of those are in the luxury market aka luxury prices. We, however, are attempting to remain in the contemporary market space and all the while not use busy repeat prints like other brands which are quick to create and allow a lower quality of print as imperfections are camouflaged. My business partner, Louise, digitally renders every single line of the prints individually then translates that onto an adobe suite. It can take weeks. We also do placement printing on all our swim so each piece displays the perfect section of our artwork, rather than printing a whole roll of the print and cutting from that. We don’t cut corners. 

There’s a huge spectrum! My days look very different to Lou’s. They usually entail hours of WhatsApp, deliveries going in and out like a take-out restaurant, hard yakka on the laptop (old-fashioned aussie slang hehe), me visiting printers, fabric houses, shipping depots and tailors (often in desperation). Usually there’s also at least an hour a day of me motorbiking around in the dusty Bali city (yes there is a city, it’s not just palm trees) with piles of fabric or boxes of something tied to my bike. It really isn’t glamourous. We hired our first employee this year and she does a lot of the time-consuming running part which has been great. This said – it’s absolutely crazy how much work I can do solely on my phone if need be. 

Louise: Geo and I spent a lot of time traveling together abroad and our fondest memories are from living on the Italian way of life along the Amalfi Coast, sipping aperols, basking in the sun while attempting to converse with the locals using our limited vocabulary of  ‘ciao’ & ‘bella’. We admired the beauty around us and drew inspiration from the people, fashion, architecture, scenic landscapes and delectable food. Soon after arriving back to Australia we made dreams become a reality and Cin Cin was born.

The journey has been a roller coaster to say the least, however I am excited and motivated every day for what the future holds. Blood, sweat, and tears… we have gone through all the emotions of starting up a new business. When times get tough, it is important to always remember why you decided to start your own business. As my father always said, patience and persistence and perseverance is one of the greatest life lessons in business.

I knew we were on to a good thing when the head buyer from Moda Operandi approached us and asked if we would like to sell to Moda. We jumped at the opportunity and strived to do what we thought was the impossible - having our debut collection featured on one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in America.

As Geo lives in Bali and I live in South Africa, a typical day involves waking up to countless WhatsApp messages, e-mails, and phone calls. Every morning we will update each other on our day, assess our priorities and always ensure we are both across everything going on in the business. A long distance business relationship has its challenges however we aim to hopefully one day reside in the same country… at least!

Style

Geo: My style is whatever makes me feel badass on that day and I am not a fan of anything too conservative or ‘nice’. If I’m going Cin Cin then I will take the bold glam to the next level or possibly edge it up with a sick sneaker and a scarf as a top. But my current badass feels are denim denim denim with a bit of grunge and some great jewels. Cin Cin pieces also take on a whole other life when teamed with denim. All hail the denim gods. Right now I am digging through the vintage markets for a really baggy pair… total hip hop vibes. ☺ But will wear with some pointed flats me thinks. 

I think we really notice the subtleties of design, both having it in our blood and in our study background.

Lou and I ultimately operate on the same aesthetic frequency. We have very similar tastes and pretty much always agree on what is average, great or next-level gorgeous. I think we really notice the subtleties of design, both having it in our blood and in our study background. Although we dress differently (of course!) but that to me, is down to personality and how that manifests into wardrobe.

The process usually starts from us organically picking up on something we want to create and we move towards that with mood boarding, verbal conversations and, most importantly, our mid-season sketch sheets that really allow us to pick it apart and develop, cull and refine. 

Louise: My wardrobe is definitely more of a Summer wardrobe consisting of printed linen, silk and flowly easy-to-wear dresses and pants. I believe growing up in a tropical climate inspired my laid-back attire. If I am comfortable in what I’m wearing, I will also feel good and be in a more positive mind set.

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The beauty in our relationship is that we both compliment one another in areas of the business. Our skill set is varied which allows us to clearly distinguish roles within the business. Geo and I rarely disagree therefore we are always confident in the decisions we make regarding all things branding and design.

My go-to look currently involves our Cin Cin Ciao print pants teamed with a baby pink sweater and casual white sneaker.  

Accessories

Geo: My fave accessory of the moment is a legit chain bracelet in your metal of choice. I’m a gold girl. It adds luxe to my denim/black looks and adds a layer of shine to my glam Cin Cin get ups. Rings are a given and the layered necklace look is over, red rover. 

But let’s regroup to the question at hand. Every woman should have:

  • A good pair of sunglasses. Keep them in their case. You can tell a lot about a man from his shoes and you can tell more about a woman from her sunglasses.

  • A pair of shoes you feel like you can take on the world in. By that I mean a pair that feels as great on as they look, a pair that you can traverse a city in without walking with an altered gait or scrunching your face up at times.

  • Good underwear. VPL’s are never okay. They will never be okay.

Louise: Every woman should have a dressy sneaker to take you from day to night, A handbag that can jazz up the most basic outfit and a quality jacket / coat that will look expensive and last you for years

My LV handbag can always jazz up my go to jeans and t-shirt look. As for my most worn pieces include my Natasha Schweitzer gold hoop earrings and of course my engagement ring!

Sustainability

Geo/Louise: It’s GREAT – but it is also 100% necessary and completely logical that this global movement has had an impact on the demands customers have, and in turn, the ethos’ of brands popping up everywhere now. 

We always have and always will, visit all our factories and printing houses in person and often to ensure the work conditions are safe and ethical.

Our journey to being the most sustainable and ethical we can be will be a never-ending one and will grow with us as our brand grows. Upon researching the impacts of certain silks on the planet we have changed to a 100% bamboo satin for our upcoming collection. We always have and always will, visit all our factories and printing houses in person and often to ensure the work conditions are safe and ethical. We work with family-owned local businesses.

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There is, unfortunately, a lot of greenwashing and a lot of small production elements exaggerated and focused on to create the foundation of brands. I think as consumers we need to expect transparency and look for deeper information.