Well, 2021…**Deep sighs*… where to even begin?
2021, you showed no remorse. You ruined my holidays, you made me feel loneliness like never before and you stripped me of much freedom. In the beginning it was all baking, new hobbies and welcomed downtime. But the honeymoon phase soon wore off and you began to suck the life out of me. You made me question everything.
There was so much extra time to think and no outside distractions. You forced me to address skeletons I’d been hiding deep down in the “do not touch box” of my mind. That was bitter-sweet.
You **weren’t** all bad, no way. There was a whole lotta’ GOOD. And a whole lotta’ learning.
You taught me resilience. Real, UNBREAKABLE and powerful resilience. You pulled and pulled and pulled it out of me when I thought the tank was empty. You allowed me to find magic in places I wasn't looking for it before.
You changed the way I see the world and I can confidently say - for the better. Unlike other years gone by (that always turn a little blurry) 2021 - you'll remain clear in my mind forever. I know it.
So let's take it back to the beginning…
We came back to the office after the break feeling fresh and were pretty excited to put 2020 behind us, “this is going to be our year” we all chimed. The team was growing and we welcomed lots of new faces for the year ahead, things were looking up. While Covid was still looming… we all felt pretty optimistic at this point. If only we knew what was headed our way (but we’ll get to that later).
My main highlight for Jan - was releasing our first ever dress range. We’d been getting dress requests from y’all for yonks and it was a total dream come true to pull this mission off. Four different shapes, three insanely be-autiful prints and all the boho vibes. Jem + Mim worked on Christmas production and you all begged us for ornaments and advent calendars. Your wish was our command (sorta). Again, we’ll get to that later.
I’d envisioned endless beach days + lounging in the sun for summer but with Melbourne’s angry weather, those days were few and far between. Overall though, January was a good month and we were oh-so-grateful to be together in the office after the previous year where #WFH became the new norm.
Our Design team Jem + Mim creating some Christmas magic.
Say hello to our first ever dress range!! Ain't she pretty??
How I envisioned my summer plans... but not how they turned out :)
Ahhhh hello photoshoot C-H-A-O-S. You’d think by now the preparation and lead up to these shoots would be all smooth sailing… NUP. Shoot weeks creep up on you like a slippery little spider and there’s always some hiccups along the way. So much planning, prop sourcing and stress. BUT once the flat lay shoot was finished and the trucks were loaded… I could breathe again. Shoutout to Dad for his reputable truck driving + unloading skillz on these photoshoots. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
On a hot Sunday arvo at the start of Feb, we arrived at Lewellyn House in Daylesford. This gigantic home had nine bedrooms + nine ensuites… it’s fair to say we felt like Queens. Nestled amongst the trees, with a huge backyard - this destination was a sweet treat after many months of lockdown. To our surprise, this shoot was probably the most mellow in Sage x Clare history (as far as photoshoots go). Usually they feel a lot more hectic and something always seems to go wrong. But apart from forgetting my breast pump… we were pretty blessed on this shoot.
There’s always a beautiful energy at these shoots & it’s a fascinating process to watch. Being surrounded by some of Australia’s best creatives, to hang out with the team after work and to see the story behind a collection really come to life. A mid-week announcement from Dan at 10pm had us totally freakedddd about the destiny of our Camille shoot but we thanked our lucky stars b’cos the only restriction brought in was: mandatory masks. PHEWWWW. The show went on. But hello clogged pores.
Feb flew by after the shoot. The warehouse was busy busy packing orders + unloading containers and we started getting *really* excited about the Camille collection after we received the imagery from the shoot. It was everything I’d envisioned. And then some more.
You're the bomb Dad. The best truck driver I know.
It goes without saying that my milestone from March was easily - our epic PJ collab with Jumbled. Inspired by the place we call home, Australia and its varied landscapes, native plants and vibrant natural colours. It was dream-stuff to work with them and as predicted…the designs were a total HIT.
During March we also kicked off our #BedOfTheWeek series and we were srsly chuffed with your kind feedback for this weekly venture. It’s an exciting feeling to share these with you each week. And it feels even better when we see that we’ve inspired you personally - with the exact same combinations replicated in your homes.
The office crew shared tips + tricks on styling our apparel range (bribery was needed for Jem and Erins involvement) - read this journal here. Then finally, after a couple of setbacks, we were able to commence our warehouse sale. And boyyy-ohhh-boyyy do you know how to shop Melbourne. It was an absolute joy meeting so many friendly faces at this sale.
April kicked off with a bluddy’ BANG! We partnered with the incredible collective of women behind the Dangerous Females organisation and launched a really special Sage x Clare + Dangerous Females range. 100% of proceeds made from this initiative went to charities who support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The paper doll chain designs on the products reflected women supporting women and the importance of empowering each other. Read all about the charities contributed to here.
On the 22nd of April I was driving home and heard a devastating announcement on the radio - that India had reached a nation-wide global record of new Covid cases. My heart was breaking for our friends + team in India. We felt completely helpless and wanted to do something so we launched an initiative… that kinda’ went viral. With your help - we sold 262 Tula Nudie Bath Mats and were able to donate $20,725 to GiveIndia to support families who lost loved ones from Covid. This was a really proud moment for me. Thank you Sage x Clare community for standing with us to support India back in April. I’ll never forget it.
April also saw the release of our Mother’s Day gift edit - our Penny Embroidered Pillowcase Set and Didi Beauty Bag. Limited edition designs with a whole lotta’ charm. Now, to wrap up April - it’s imperative that we mention one of the *most memorable* moments of 2021. The day Jade and Bonnie gave a Dirty Dancing performance in the office. Erin nearly passed out from laughing so hard. We’re still not over it tbh.
Nobody puts baby in a corner.
Camille, Camille, Camille! Eeeeeek. After months and months of planning, it was finally time to share this collection with you. And your love for her was a forever-kinda-love. You fell head.over.heels for Camille. Golly gosh this launch is a special day in my memory bank. The team clocked off early and we hit the town to celebrate (or rather, a winery in the Warrandyte hills). This was one of those days that really stick with you forever, it was so full of happiness. We had delicious drinks, food and desert…nutella crepes to be more specific. Then we sat outside overlooking the most magical view and chatted for hours while watching the sunset.
After the new collection launch came our collaboration with Rollie Nation. We shot this collab with the Rollie Nation team at St Etienne on the last day of our Camille shoot. The vibe of the shoot was something special and it turned out exactly as we’d visualised. An explosion of colour. As soon as we set these beautiful beasts into the wild… you bloody well pounced on them. All three pairs sold out in under 15 minutes. Holy Rollie.
I’m not gonna lie, watching Dad aka BB aka ‘Mr Who Took My Stapler’ retire and move to the Sunny Coast was a pretty emotional journey for me. He’d been around from the very beginning of this biz (but officially joined 5 years ago). I knew it’d be hard saying goodbye to him but it proved to be even harder than I thought. Something about this pandemic makes the thought of loved ones moving out of reach really, really scary. There were lotsa’ tears on BB’s last day but I know he’ll be part of the Sage x Clare spirit forever. While I miss him like cr-azy, I’m lucky he calls me at least 18 times a day to check in. 😜
We excitedly began our prepping for the Anabelle photoshoot. Planning a shoot amidst Covid announcements + fear became the norm. Shoutout to Aus who took over Dad’s role as truck driver and collected all of our props. Geee whiz there was a lot of stuff. Somewhere amongst all of the shoot prep mayhem, we squeezed in our flat lay shoot. Anabelle was starting to feel real.
On a rainy Sunday in July, our team pulled up to The Oxford House in Hepburn Springs and despite the dreary weather, we were SO DARN READY. I had a good feeling about this one. The days always pass by so quickly on shoots, one minute you’re boiling the kettle at 7am ready to conquer and the next you’re packing up the set to prepare again for tomorrow.
Our shoot family is one-of-a-kind, it’s a joy to spend an entire week with these humans. Our photographer - Armelle Habib is like no other, I can truly pick her images a mile away. And as for our stylist - Heather Nette King? Well she’s a rare sort as well. Both magicians of their art.
This shoot and collection was my favourite to date (big call, I know). I stood back taking in every set and looked in awe at the intensely beautiful portrayal of Anabelle we were creating. It was perfect. In fact, it was better than perfect. It was too good to be true. But in the outside world… something was a brewin’. During the week we were getting updates that case numbers had seen a rise. But we were too busy to sit around moping about what could happen… until it did. Yup, smack bang while shooting Nudie Taffy Towels we were told we were going into lockdown at midnight. Oh Dan, could you not have waited one.more.day? We still had to shoot our PLAY and kids + baby range. Nooooo Dan. Noooo!
And so we packed like madmen and headed back to the big smoke with heavy hearts.
It wasn’t all bad though, this lockdown went by pretty quick and Sage x Clare welcomed its newest employee… my hubby Chris. Mansplaining aside, this has been the biggest breath of fresh air. And no we don’t car pull b’cos my podcasts, phone convo’s and car rides are sacred. We also began our diversity + inclusion training and will continue our learning (forever). Then started working with a diversity expert and were committed to educating ourselves every single week. I can’t tell you how important this training has been to our growth as a team in 2021 and to have open conversations about our learnings is really formative.
On Thursday August 5th I was mid-way through a meeting and heard the news: another lockdown. This is where things began to go downhill for me in 2021. This lockdown brought different feelings: extreme sadness, lack of hope and languishing. The novelty of lockdown had well and truly worn off by now, as case numbers soared… there was no end in sight. To be honest, I think this was the hardest month of all for me. Myself and the team began to feel a little weak. There were more lows than highs this month and lockdown was really taking its toll.
But thank goodness we went through this s**t storm together. I couldn’t have got through this year without such a supportive, kind and special team of people. We started practising weekly gratitude together at the start of our team chats and this became the favourite part of my week. We also played Friday night Zoom trivia and I took up knitting again. Apart from that, August was a whole lotta’ #WFH, river walks and sittin’ at home.
Lockdown continued for weeks upon weeks……. and I really started to resent Zoom. I was craving real encounters, I was craving the office and my team, I was craving going out for dinner, I was craving the hairdresser, I was craving my sanity, I was craving joy. I NEEDED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE.
Along came the Anabelle launch and that really gave me something to look forward to and celebrate. I was ab-so-lutely blown away by your reaction to this collection. It’s fair to say, we broke the internet (toot toot, that’s our horn). I mean I thought you were exceptionally smitten with Camille but this was *double* the intensity of that. The happiness this launch brought me, pulled me out of a dark locky-d hole and that blissful launch high stayed with me for weeks.
Now, because we were unable to shoot the kids + baby range - we called in some help from talented NSW based photographer @lamblovesfox. We also kicked off a style series with the incredible Heather Nette King who shared her top tips and tricks for creating the Anabelle look in your homes - read it here. The colours + prints within the Anabelle collection, along with your genuine love for her too, had me feeling myself again.
SING HALLELUJAH!! SING IT TO ME!!! After being dubbed the “most locked down city in the world”… us Melb folk were finally set free on October 26th. Well sorta. The rules were lifted and there was light at the end of the tunnel at least. Too bad my hairdresser couldn’t sort out my root crisis for another two months.
The end of October saw one of my biggest career milestones to date: our collaboration with Cotton On Kids went live. When Cotton On Kids first approached me about this collection, I was in complete shock. A brand I’ve adored for such a long time, a brand that I dress my kids in on the weekly and just one of my favourite Australian brands in general. From the very beginning, the whole thing just felt right and there was this beautiful synergy between our brands.
Inspired by the nostalgia and fun of summers gone by. The collection weaved in a retro vibe; playful florals and classic stripes feature throughout, new and exclusive designs with some iconic Sage x Clare favourites. It’s pretty surreal to think that this summer I could be strolling along the beach and see your kidlets rocking these designs. #ADreamComeTrue.
Shop this collab here.
In November I began to feel new again. We were staggering our team back to the office and I got to wear jeans for the first time in MONTHS. I was still on my Anabelle high and the energy in the office was pure happiness. I’ll never take moments there for granted with my team **ever again**.
With summer around the corner, we released our final collection for the year - Carnival. Celebrations and summer entertaining never looked so gewdddd. Handmade ornaments, Santa sacks, limited edition Taffy Nudie Towels, our first ever circular Tula Nudie Bath Mat and new resin. Did I mention the resin shapes were hand-crafted by Mim, Jem and myself? We’re pretty happy with ourselves tbh. It brings a totally unique feel. Oh and the colours are to-die-for.
The warehouse began receiving your Chrissie orders and were super-duper busy. And on the 15th of November? Sage x Clare turned eight years old. #WhatARide.
How the hell did we get here??? Now, remember how I said we designed some advent calendars back in Jan for this Christmas? Well yeah, they were fabulous, and fabulously late. The container arrived wayyy too late and we were sadly unable to share them with you. But it’s O-K because now we’re really organised for next year. I’m not mad about it, no way. I’m a half cup full kinda’ gal these days.
This month I'm extremely grateful for our Christmas party we had last week at Mr.Myagi, it was the perfect night and end to the year. Five courses of food I’ve been fantasising about all year. Don’t even get me started on the salmon tacos.
2021 it’s almost time to say goodbye and when I look back on everything, I’m pretty amazed at our strength. I’ve learned more about myself this year than perhaps any other, same goes about my team + family too. I’m grateful for the masterclass in resilience, the gratitude and the lessons I’ve learned. Before I go, a huge shout out to YOU, our Sage x Clare family. Thank you for your endless support. We really appreciate it. X