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Meet the Creator: In Conversation with Lara Fells of St Agni

A story of design, community, and effortless style.

Words: Anna Hutchcroft
Photography: Jessie Prince

Meet the Creator: In Conversation with Lara Fells of St Agni

It’s hard to imagine St. Agni at its conception when today, they’re known worldwide for their curated selection of foundational pieces that bridge the gap between progressive style and effortless nonchalance. Their journey began with handwoven leather accessories and has since blossomed into a collection that prioritises versatility and longevity in each design, offering a modern uniform for the discerning individual. Exceptional fabrics and a commitment to ethical practices throughout their supply chain further elevate the brand’s ethos.

Co-founder Lara Fells lets us in on how it all started – from the dreams born around the dinner table to the inspiration behind their designs and what exciting things are on the horizon.

St. Agni's clothing seems to evoke a certain mood or feeling. Can you describe the stories you aim to tell through your designs?

Our pieces blend contemporary wardrobing with meticulous design and tailoring, embracing a minimalist ethos. Our vision stems from crafting functionally refined pieces that seamlessly bridge the gap between progressive contemporary and effortless nonchalance. Stepping into our stores, we aim to evoke a sense of calm, extend a warm welcome to our customers, and ignite inspiration.  

Can you walk us through that initial spark that ignited the brand?

My husband Matt and I embarked on the St. Agni journey back in 2014, initially as a side project alongside our full-time jobs. With a focus on keeping manufacturing minimums low, we nurtured St. Agni’s growth organically. The pivotal moment arrived with the unexpected success of our Woven Bunto Loafers. While St. Agni had not been conceived as a ‘Boho’ brand, these loafers resonated strongly with the Boho aesthetic of the time. The overwhelming demand for the loafers exceeded our expectations, often leading to rapid sell-outs upon restocking.  This marked a significant turning point, propelling us to the next level of growth.

What were the conversations like between you and your partner at the dinner table in this inception phase? 

In the inception phase of St. Agni, both Matt and I were filled with eagerness and naivety. Starting the brand not only brought us joy but also strengthened our bond as partners. We discovered how well we complemented each other’s strengths and skills. Our dinner conversations became centred around all things St. Agni, enthusiastically discussing our vision. It was an exhilarating time for us both.

While St. Agni seems to have a strong local presence, the brand has also gained international recognition.  How do you balance staying true to your roots while expanding your reach? 

Maintaining a strong local presence while expanding internationally has been key for us at St. Agni. Our direct-to-consumer base thrives in Australia, while our wholesale strategy has strengthened our reach worldwide. Being based in Byron Bay has been instrumental in keeping us grounded and true to our roots. It's a place where we can stay focused on our identity, ensuring that as we grow, we never lose sight of our fundamental values.  

What role do St. Agni customers play in shaping the brand's direction? Do you have any specific ways you gather customer feedback and incorporate it into your work? 

Customer feedback is integral to shaping the direction of St. Agni. We are fortunate to have direct communication channels with our customers through emails, social media platforms, and in-store interactions. Additionally, we  gather valuable insights from sell-through reports, which highlight what resonates most with our customers.  Customer feedback forms the core of many of our meetings, guiding our decisions and strategies. However, while it's crucial to listen to our customers, I also believe in trusting our instincts and owning the brands direction.  

Looking ahead, where do you see St. Agni in the next few years? Are there any exciting new ventures or initiatives you're planning on pursuing?

With the recent opening of two new stores, bringing our total retail doors to four, expansion remains a key focus.  While I'm enthusiastic about opening more doors, I also recognize the importance of allowing time for our current ventures to settle before pursuing further expansion. Additionally, we're excited about the possibility of international pop-up ventures, with plans to explore this opportunity next year. We want to continue to offer unique experiences to our customers. 

What drew St. Agni to establish its base in the Banksia Drive Precinct? How has being part of this creative community influenced the brand's aesthetic or direction?

The decision to establish our base in the Banksia Drive Precinct came unexpectedly, as we stumbled across the building on Gumtree before purchasing it in 2019. Being part of this community has been immensely rewarding.  Surrounded by creatives who support and inspire one another, it's a truly unique environment. The collaborative spirit within this community has influenced St. Agni's direction, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity that continuously inspires.

Find St Agni at 4 Acacia St, Byron Bay.

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