Spotlight On: Rachel Burke | Brisbane Threads

Spotlight On: Rachel Burke

Rachel Burke is a colourful mixed bag of talents with a heart of gold. She’s a fashion designer, stylist and pompom-making craft queen hailing from our fabulous city, and she’s recently been chosen as an Australian of the Day through the Commonwealth Bank’s initiative to champion everyday, grassroots Australians.
She first rose to online fame in 2010 after setting herself the challenge to make 1 dress every week for 20 consecutive weeks, and then in 2012, she embarked on the challenge of making one dress every day for an entire year. Both projects required her to make the dresses from scratch and auction the pieces online and, between the two challenges, Rachel has raised close to $10,000 for children’s charities.
Recently returning from Splendour in the Grass where she worked as Craft Captain and decked out Patience Hodgson in a psychedelic rainbow costume (weighing 10 kilograms!) for her show with The Grates, Rachel is no doubt a busy lady but we managed to catch up with her this week for Spotlight On. Here’s her story: Spotlight On: Rachel Burke | Brisbane ThreadsBrisbane Threads: Hi Rachel, Thanks for having a chat with us today, all the way from Japan! Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us a little about yourself. 

Rachel Burke: I am a Brisbane based clothing designer, stylist and photographer.  I work 9-5 in commercial fashion and spend the rest of my time hanging out with my heavenly sausage dogs and trying to achieve all of my crafty/creative dreams. I am also currently working as the Fashion Editorial stylist for Frankie Magazine.

BT: Tell us about your background – did you always want to design dresses?

RB: My background is actually in Musical Theatre! Growing up I was SO set on being a professional singer. As a result, I spent the majority of my late teens and early twenties completely focused on this goal. However, at the end of my first year studying musical theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, something changed and I lost the passion. Somewhere along the way I began enjoying the process of making costumes more than the performances that I was meant to be making them for! My focus drastically and unexpectedly shifted, and before I knew it, I was hand-making dresses until all hours of the night and leaving everything to start my blog i make. you wear it.

BT: What inspired that first challenge, to create 1 dress every week for 20 weeks? 

RB: It came from a desire to learn more about making dresses and giving a little back at the same time. I wanted to do something that wasn’t just for me. Prior to starting the project, I had quickly made some outfits for friends before going out on the town and I had really enjoyed the process of making something fast. In addition, doing the project for charity was an awesome motivator to keep the project going and to achieve my goal.

BT:  And how did the challenge go? 

RB: The challenge went so well, and the support and following that I got went so far beyond anything that I could have ever expected.  This first project raised over $5,000 for NAPCAN. It also inspired me to continue my blog and create my next ‘dress-a-day’ project that saw me make a dress everyday for a year.Spotlight On: Rachel Burke | Brisbane ThreadsBT: What charities have you supported and why? 

RB: I have supported a range of charities including the Starlight Foundation, NAPCAN and the Motor Neuron Disease Association

BT: How does it feel to be nominated as a Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day? 

RB: I feel so chuffed to have been nominated as the Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day! So many wonderful Australians have been featured in the project and I can’t believe I get to be one too!

BT: Can you tell us about your involvement with this year’s Splendor In The Grass festival?

RB: At Splendour in The Grass this year, I had the enormous  honour of being Craft Captain of the Splendour In The Craft tent.  This involved me helping to run all the workshops and have the opportunity to hang out with some of my craft idols – which was just such a treat.  I also made the tinsel-sparkly-dream-coat for Patience Hodgson of the Grates for her Splendour set. That was a total thrill for me!Spotlight On: Rachel Burke | Brisbane Threads

BT: How would you describe yourself in 5 words? 

RB: Busy. Glittery. Zesty. Pom-Enthusiast.

BT: What’s next for you? 

RB: I am just about to start a new project called Apomogy.  This will be a community art project where people affix their anonymous apologies to pom poms that I (or they) have made, to create an overall installation of Apomogy-fun! The project will involve lots of workshops and a documentary. I am also about to start teaching some fun ‘How To’ Classes with Workshop Brisbane.  My first one is an Etsy Masterclass on making pinatas — make sure you come!


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