• Toast Clothing Studio - With Rhiannon Larsen

    I have been following Rhiannon Larsen's gorgeous and entertaining Instagram accounts for a while now and what caught my eye at the beginning was the simple but clever photos taken in the same place in her home;  each day wearing a different dress!  These dresses (she has over 100!) she had made herself or thrifted... Oh!  and when she added a photo with a child wearing the same patterns, or all the children and her husband it was just warm fuzz overload!


    Inspired by her massive collection of vintage fabrics collected over the past decades Rhiannon says she is "all about the pockets and the little details - mismatched facings and bias bound edges".
    Rhiannon has a passion for upcycling vintage fabrics into beautiful wearable pieces. 

    I just love it when I come across people like Rhiannon that are also working to saving the planet one wardrobe at a time.
    And anyone that also loves to Op Shop as much as I do I find so interesting!  So it was only natural that I share her story with you.  Read on to see the full e-interview with a million questions!  (well not quite - but thanks for answering them all Rhiannon!)

    Toast Clothing?  There must be a story to this name?, do tell!
    "It's funny, I get this question a lot, and I feel like I should have a really good, meaningful answer. But, really, it comes from a fifth form English project I did, we had to design an advertising campaign and mine was a fashion line and I couldn't think of a name so I named it after my favourite food at the time!" 

    Have you always lived in Whakatane? 
    "I grew up in Whakatane. I went on a school exchange to The Netherlands as a teenager and have lived in both Hamilton and Wellington briefly. We lived in Nelson for a few years, and loved it, but came home once we had kids."

    What is the best thing about your town?
    "It used to drive me crazy, but I love the closeness, how everyone knows everyone. It's also crazy beautiful, especially the beach."

    You had a children's clothing business before you decided to move onto women's clothing, was it a natural progression to change to womenswear, and what is your dream for your brand?
    "I had Croutons for about 6 years, but Toast actually started as a women's wear brand in 2003. I switched to kids stuff when I had littlies at home and needed quicker projects to squeeze into naptimes. Now that my children are older, I felt the pull back to adult sized pretties. I've always had a soft spot for dresses. My dream is not too different to what I'm doing now- just on a slightly broader scale. I'd love to add more selection to my range.  And, eventually, also offer men's tees and shirts."

    What, or who has been your biggest inspiration?
    "I think the vintage fabric I use is my biggest inspiration. It's practically begging to be made into something beautiful. I love all things old, and love the combo of vintage fabric and shaped with a slightly more modern/practical styling." 


    Tell us about a favourite piece you have created?  
    "I have a real fondness for novelty prints and I think my favourite dresses are ones made from vintage Starwars sheets or perhaps my 1970's Richard Scarry duvet!"

    Can you remember the very first item you sold?
    Back in 2003 I was making wrist cuffs, and I remember, just after building my website, and American lady purchased one. Paypal was only just starting out and wasn't widely used so she actually sent me a money order! It was for $8. I didn't cash it, I kept it to look back on. One day I'll find it and frame it! 

    What/who was the most exciting thing you have made an item for?
    I recently had the privilege of making a dress for someone to get married in- using very pricey vintage Sanderson linen! It was very nerve wracking and a total honour. 

    What do you know now that you wish you had have known at the beginning of Toast Clothing?
    I think I have learned that I can't cater to everyone. I can do an amazing job and produce beautiful things, but I shouldn't say yes to every request and there will always be someone who wants more than I can offer. And that that is okay. 

    What is one of your favourite Instagram accounts you follow?
    Oh gosh, I have so many!! I absolutely adore the account of my friend Hayley Angell (@hayleyangell) who rocks some fabulous frocks, has a wonderful sense of humour and a smile that is incredibly contagious. It always brightens my day. 

    Do you have an item of clothing you just can't live without?
    Cardigans! I have so many and I'm almost never without one. Can I cheat and have two? Cause I would be lost without my clogs. 

    I remember following you wearing a different dress a day on Instagram, this was so cool!  So many different outfits!  Was this a challenge?  Tell us about this!
    I've done this a few times over the years! It always starts as a way to organise my closet and to make sure I wear all of my dresses each year. But I end up adding to them often... I might have around 100 dresses in my rotation 😬


    What finds make you squeal with delight in an op shop?
    Always vintage barkcloth of any kind, amazing retro dresses in my (larger) size, old catholic iconry.. I think the day I found not one but TWO old Bernina sewing machines at the dump shop was one of my biggest squeal moments!


    What is a key/stand out feature of your designs, I know you are a big fan of pockets! 
    Pockets are essential! I love a good, basic design where the fabric speaks for itself. I also have contrasting/mismatching fabric in the pockets and facings on all dresses. I love little details like that.

    You reuse and upcycle gorgeous vintage fabrics into amazing clothing, do you also use new fabrics?
    I do, very occasionally, use new fabrics. More often than not these are bought through destash pages or from Trademe, though I'm looking at buying some new novelty prints for spring/summer for a new premium range! 

    What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner and having a family?
    Time!! Both physical time and mental time. Both children and business require a lot of attention and finding that balance has been a constant juggle so far! 

    What is the biggest benefit of being a small business owner with a young family? 
    Working for myself gives me more freedom when it comes to being available for my kids when they're sick, or have school commitments etc. I can shuffle things around to fit our life a bit better and can be flexible. 

    How do we get a dress custom made by you?
    At the moment my custom lists are actually closed! I've been blown away by the support for my work. I recommend following me on IG for announcements on when custom spots will open again, in a few months.

    Where can we find you?  Tell us about your new studio, and other places we can purchase your beautiful items!
    You can find me in little ole Whakatane. I'm upstairs at 52 Boon street, in a sunny corner space. It's so warm and peaceful, and I'd love to make you a cuppa. I stock accessories by lots of clever kiwi crafters, too - I search for really unique but affordable handmade pieces, that go beautifully with my work. 

    I'm in the process of getting my website stocked up again and you can find that at http://www.toastclothingdressedition.bigcartel.com and you can also order readymades I've showcased on my IG by messaging me there. 

    "Creativity is contagious, Pass it on -Albert Einstein

    Vintage Clothing Store, Online Only,
    Wellington NZ

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