What is it that you love so much about the 1950s?
The music and the cars! I like modern rockabilly music from Europe, bands like The Go Getters, and I’ve grown up in a classic car family, I have four myself. This year will be the first year I will actually have a car of my own finished! I’m taking a 1964 XM wagon that is tiki-themed so inside is all wooden panels.
Wow! How long did it take to restore that beauty?
It took us a year working on it every weekend. My dad does paint and panel and my boyfriend Matt is a mechanic and I do everything in between so it was very much a family thing!
When did you first become interested in the era?
I’ve always gone to Wintersun with my parents but I never really knew there was a fashion behind it. It wasn’t until I was about 15 and I did a fashion design course and one of the topics for the end of year essay was to come up with a style that best reflects your parents passion. I just started doing research and discovered there was this whole rockabilly movement in America and I just fell in love with it. From that moment I started collecting pieces from the Op Shop, I have a huge vintage clothing collection at home.
Is your home a time capsule of the 1950s?
It is! Everything from kitchen utensils to plates are all from the 1950s. I have a 1950s kitchen hutch that we painted in pastel pink and mint with a matching 50s fridge, that still works!
Who are your style icons?
I like Betty Grable, she was the general pin-up girl from the 1950s, and Ava Gardner. But if we’re talking modern icons it has to be Dita Von Teese.
How would you describe your style?
Very period correct. If I wear a 1950s dress I have to have a 1950s bag and shoes and accessories to match.
Tell us about My Little Rockabilly.
I started it when I was doing my fashion design course when I was 15. I launched myself into making accessories and clothing that was rockabilly style because no one was really doing it in Australia at that time but now it’s sort of branched out into revamping vintage furniture. I also do hair and make-up at festivals around Australia and I teach girls how to do it for themselves. It’s just become this whole thing within the name.
How did it all come about?
I was still in school and it was taking over too much of my schoolwork and my parents actually pulled me out and said that if I wanted to do it full-time I couldn’t be in school as I wasn’t focusing on my work. I went and did a business course to learn how to do social media, marketing and business management and that was it. I left school at 16 and have worked for myself ever since.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced owning your own business at such a young age?
It’s not so much a challenge but always trying to reinvent yourself is important. You’ve got to always look to America and Europe because we’re quite behind in the vintage reproduction scene. There is a lot of imitation out there so you’ve always got to be one ahead of them and try and recreate your style all of the time.
My Little Rockabilly Beauty Salon will be setting up shop at the Retro Street Party to celebrate the start of Cooly Rocks On 2015. What are some of the hairstyles you’ll be creating?
A lot of victory rolls, they always seem to be the most popular as they are quite difficult to do on yourself. Last year I did 170-girls over three days, there was a line-up down the street!
What inspires you?
I love everything mint and pink and colourful! I really like 1950s Hawaiian style and I’m constantly inspired by covers of records and old movies.
What’s your go-to movie when you need a little inspiration?
It might sound strange as it isn’t really 1950s, it’s more 1960s, but the Gidget movie Psycho Beach Party. I found that movie in Crazy Clarks for $2 and I swear it has just helped me in every way. It even inspired the colour palette for my car and my business.
What’s the best part about being you right now?
Just being recognised and appreciated for what I do. Recently I’ve met some amazing people within the media and Gold Coast City Council who are really supportive, which is great because it means I can put on events. If rockabilly is more known and appreciated then there will be more things for us all to do.
Do you feel like the perception of rockabilly is changing?
Definitely! I used to always get asked if I was going to a costume party and I don’t get asked that anymore, it’s very normal now. If I am not dressed up people think there is something wrong with me.
What’s the one piece you would love to own?
It’s not really a piece but my dream car is a 1956 Ford Victoria. It has a glass see-through roof. There’s one in Melbourne for a very hefty price of $160,000. One day I’ll find one!
Any secrets on where to find amazing vintage wares?
20th Century Antiques & Collectibles at Coolangatta! My friend owns it and a lot of people don’t know that they sell clothing out the back. Each section of the centre is leased by different sellers so they are constantly changing their stock over all of the time. From the front it looks like a man-cave sort of shop but out the back there are a lot of girly things and it’s very cheap compared to the city. We go to Melbourne and it’s about $500 for a 1950s dress while 20th Century is selling them for $30.
Finally, do you have any advice for people who would love to be their own boss?
If you wish to be your own boss, create a business so unique that you cannot possibly fail! Always be one step ahead of everyone else and never copy anyone.
Only a Gold Coast local would know … that Retrosheila in Coolangatta has amazing vintage clothing from London.