With a love for ethical fashion and a rich knowledge honed through a lifetime of working in the fashion industry, Shylo made a tree change to regional New South Wales in 2017 with the dream of bringing a ‘slow fashion’ experience to the thriving rural hub of Bathurst. Here Shylo chats to Southern Wild Co about her career highlights, her take on ‘slow fashion’, why she loves her rural community and the challenges facing the fashion retail industry, particularly in country areas.
Thanks for sitting down with us today Shylo. Tell us a little bit about your early career path and how you came to choose fashion retail as a career.
I had a country childhood and was always obsessed with fashion. As soon as I was old enough, I headed to the fashion capital of Sydney where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the most amazing designers and strongest retailers in the business. However, after more than 20 years in this fast-paced industry, my health became an issue and I had to slow down. The plan was to retire completely but I’m not very good at doing nothing and got bored quickly, so I started doing freelance styling work which reignited my passion for the industry.
How did you come to be in the rural hub of Bathurst and what do you love about being part of such a thriving country community?
I was craving a tree change after all those years in the city and wanted to get back to my country roots. Dave, my husband, has a job that allows him to work remotely so in 2017, we took advantage of the crazy housing market in Sydney, sold our house and within three months had bought a house and moved to Bathurst. We chose Bathurst because of it’s close proximity to Sydney, it’s wonderful history and the beautiful surrounding landscape of the central west. We also fell in love with our new home when we saw it online. It’s a modern home, which is unusual for us, as we’ve always had older homes that we have renovated. We love it here and have the best of both worlds. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly but we’re still so close to Sydney if we need to pop down for our city fix.
We love it here and have the best of both worlds.
Your store in Keppel Street is beautiful, one that we can really connect with. Tell us a bit about Sunday Thistle and who you are as a brand.
When we first moved to Bathurst, I saw the potential to open a store that featured brands I have always connected with. Clothing that is easy to wear, beautifully designed and most of all, sustainable and ethically made. For me, it’s not about volume – it’s about quality over quantity. I want Sunday Thistle to reflect how I feel about fashion.
We love that you champion slow, ethically-made Australian fashion. Which Australian brands do you think are ethically leading the way?
When I started researching labels for my store, brands like Carlie Ballard, Ella, Alcana and Kildary Valley were names that stood out for their quality, ethics and the fact that they were all Australian made. I’ve developed wonderful relationships with these designers and I’m excited to see where they go from here.
Brands like Carlie Ballard, Ella, Alcana and Kildary Valley were names that stood out for their quality and ethics...
We’ve already touched on this but what are some of the things you love about Bathurst?
People here are so amazing and welcoming – you just don’t get that in big cities! Everybody wants to know you and wants to know your story. People look out for you here, especially on Keppel Street. I have clients who pop in to see if I need a coffee, or check if I’ve eaten lunch. There’s a real sense of community here and I've formed some wonderful friendships.
Do you have some recommendations for visitors to the area?
Well my favourite street has to be Keppel Street. It has a lovely Australian country town charm, wonderful cafés, a French patisserie, art gallery and of course, Sunday Thistle. I couldn’t imagine having my store anywhere else. My other absolute favourite is Pear Tree Wholefoods in William Street – a wonderful family-run business full of everything that’s good and wholesome. Next door, there’s Piccolo Cafe which is focused on providing a wide range of gluten-free and vegetarian food and in George Street, there’s the fabulous Bathurst Health Foods. For an afterwork tipple, the Sunday Thistle team loves Vine & Tap for the Italian share plates and huge wine selection. You’ll often find us in their al fresco courtyard in summer sharing a glass of wine and a laugh after work.
My favourite street has to be Keppel Street. It has lovely Australian country town charm, wonderful cafés, a French patisserie, art gallery and of course, Sunday Thistle.
What do you see as the challenges facing the fashion retail industry?
The drought is a huge issue for country areas at the moment. On a broader scale, bricks and mortar stores always face the challenges of online shopping and big department stores constantly on sale. Consumers are savvy with shopping and as a small boutique owner, I have to ensure that I keep up with what’s going on in the industry. It’s constantly changing, which in turn, changes our personal styles and tastes so it’s important to stay on top of it.
What is your vision for Sunday Thistle in the future?
I’m moving towards creating a curated lifestyle experience for my customers where one can come in and purchase a small treat or gift, like a body oil or a candle, or indulge in a big ticket item like a beautifully tailored jacket. There will be something for everyone and not just a focus on fashion. I also want to give my customers more choice and am currently researching a range of vegan leather handbags and skincare.
There will be something for everyone and not just a focus on fashion.
On a final note, we can’t leave without asking what your favourite Southern wild Co scent is?
Southern Sky has been hugely popular, but for me right now it’s Sirens. It’s my absolute favourite and I’m burning it at home as well. I’m told by my clients that they love getting home and unwrapping their purchases because they can smell the lingering scent in the fabric. I love that it’s a reminder of their purchase at Sunday Thistle.
You can find Sunday Thistle here
or at 59 Keppel St, Bathurst, NSW 2795
Shylo’s Bathurst recommendations
88b Keppel Street, Bathurst
Bathurst Health Foods
105 George Street, Bathurst NSW