For Katherine Gracey, creating a range of Uniek womens wear was not only about the fashion, but also about creating safe spaces for all ages, shapes and backgrounds.
With a corporate background and a rapidly changing life, adaptability proved to be the catalyst for creating an equally adaptable capsule wardrobe.
We had the pleasure of chatting to the founder and creator of the sustainable loungewear brand about her journey so far and her advice for women launching in business.
Welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
Uniek is a Melbourne-born brand that offers a curated range of pieces designed to empower women to take on the shifting demands of modern life in the post-2020 world. In sizes ranging from 6-16, the five-piece capsule collection includes a track pant, crew-neck sweater, hoodie, short sleeve tee and long sleeve tee, all made locally from 100% organic, sustainably sourced cotton.
Can you share with us a bit about your journey so far and where it all began?
Over the past 18 months, the lines between work, parenting, leisure time and the daily admin of everyday life have blurred so much that I believe we need to simplify our lives where we can. I wanted to cater for a woman who wants to know that she has an effortless capsule wardrobe of comfortable separates on hand, that are not only extremely versatile but also align with her values.
What do you think it is that makes your work unique?
UNIEK is the result of my own experience searching for adaptable loungewear that was not only beautiful to wear but that also resonated on a more personal level. After almost four years as Head of Marketing at Mercedes Benz Australia and New Zealand, I was inspired to create a sustainable and inclusive loungewear label for women who often feel unseen or unrepresented by the existing offering.
What has been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Understanding that the product is the hero. Working for Mercedes Benz impressed on me a passion and understanding of excellence and quality which I have carried with me into Uniek, with the intention of creating clothes that look and feel absolutely beautiful.
Beyond that, my background has built my understanding of the power of ambassadorship. As me and my friends moved from our late 30s into our early 40s, we would talk a lot about how we felt pretty unseen and excluded by the fashion industry. When I launched UNIEK, I definitely had myself and my friends in mind. I wanted to ensure that Uniek represented a safe space for all ages, shapes and backgrounds.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?
You can't do everything. It is important to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses. It is ok not knowing something but finding ways to learn or surrounding yourselves with experts in their field to help grow your business.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
I have been so fortunate to work with some big brands over my career. Through working with these brands, I have had access to some amazing organisations and people. With that, you are always learning. You develop some amazing connections and when you take the leap to go out on your own, you have a huge support network behind you.
Where do you go or what do you do to recharge your creativity?
In the times we find ourselves in, for me its exercise. Getting out in the fresh air to clear my mind is so important. I love pilates and have recently started running again which is amazing.
How are you fulfilling your creative passions this year?
Running my own business allows me so many moments to sit back and think of ways to engage our audience. I love listening to podcasts and music. And being in fashion, I am always looking at amazing brands for inspiration - I love nothing more than a good scroll through Instagram!
We’re all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
My mum. She is the strongest person I know. She ran an highly successful business side by side with my Dad and that inspires me everyday.
What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Just have a go. We as women sometimes feel we need to have every box ticked to feel comfortable about doing something or applying for the ideal job. You can't fail, you can only learn from your experiences - just have a go!