Chatting to the face behind this iconic brand is definitely one of my most favourite wholehearted finds of ours. St.Agni are a ‘must stop’ if you’re ever in Byron and have taken some serious ownership of the online shopping world as well [hello Net-A-Porter] so this beautiful brand will only keep making waves. As someone who is the proud owner of a variety of St. Agni products, I loved hearing some of the tale behind it’s beginnings and growth from founder Lara Fells, and I know you will too!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lara Fells and I am the Designer and Founding Director of St. Agni Studio.
We create timeless pieces using quality leather and fabrics that we hope synergise with a structured wardrobe or everyday style.
What is a typical day for you?
In all honesty, no two days are the same for me and I’m really grateful for that.
At the moment I have a different routine because my 8 month old son Jude is sleep training, so that’s dictating a lot of my schedule. Usually Jude and I will wake up quite early with get ready for the day together. Then I like to get out of the house as soon as possible to make the most of the morning. We’ll walk to one of my favourite local cafes in Byron Bay, the Road House or General Store and I’ll get an iced latte and croissant to start my day.
Then depending on the day, either my husband Matt or I will come into work whilst the other stays home to be with Jude. I will always try to get to a Pilates class with the girls from work, or at least do a beach walk with our puppy Harper if nothing else.
Matt and I are constantly taking things in turn, so in the evenings one of us will prepare dinner and then we like to have some time together just the two of us. We’ll watch a film or catch-up on some work or see friends.
What do you love most about what you do and why?
I feel so lucky to do what I do every day and to work with the people that we do.
I am a retail girl at heart, and still to this day one of my most favourite things to do is be on the floor in our Byron Bay boutique with our beautiful customers and product. I love connecting with people and seeing how they style our pieces in their own way. I’ve always loved the social aspect of retail and as the business has grown and I’ve been required to do more and more behind-the-scenes. Now it’s such a treat to get back in the boutique and be amongst our product in that way.
When did you start doing what you do and turn it in to a business?
I actually started the business nearly 5 years ago now as a passion project while I was still working full-time somewhere else. In many ways, it is what I have always done. Clothes and design have always been huge for me – my Nona is a seamstress and my friends and I used to make our own dresses to wear out on a Saturday night when we were younger.
I decided to start my own label because I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere else. So when the timing felt right, I just went for it.
How did you get the courage to take the jump and make the leap?
I just knew deep down that it was possible. I had also reached a point in my life where I felt that It was the natural next step. I didn’t want to wind up wondering what could have been, and I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to create. The timing felt right and I was ready, but with no real expectations of what would come. Ultimately in the longer run, this has meant that I’ve been able to be so grateful for everything along the way. We’ve worked really hard to be where we are, but because I didn’t put any major expectations on myself or the brand at the beginning, it’s all felt like a gift.
What does being wholehearted mean to you?
I think that to be wholehearted, you have to be true to yourself and approach life from a platform of appreciation, patience and kindness, and to live with compassion.
Tell us about a time when you really had to push through and be wholehearted?
In the beginning with St. Agni, I experienced a lot or rejection which naturally made me question myself and what I had set-out to do. But it was also a huge blessing, because it taught me to trust myself and my ideas more and to keep a bigger picture in mind – not just for the business, but with my life in general as well.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
The proudest moment for me personally was seeing our product go live on Net-A-Porter earlier this year. For us to be represented with a global retailer on that scale was the ‘pinch me’ moment I simply did not see coming.
It has taken some time to properly sink in, but realising that our hard work and vision positioned us in such wonderful company has been very humbling.
It will be hard to top that moment, but I’m open to whatever is in store for us and trust that what ever is coming down the line will exceed anything I could have imagined anyway!