Talanoa : Janice Brown

If you recall, I had posted earlier last week my new mustard + tapa combo which featured this gorgeous Aysia-ley mustard skirt from Salt & Light Threads.

Miss Brown Top ($AU59) and Aysia-ley mustard skirt (AU$59) BOTH SOLD OUT  | Salt & Light Threads

Brisbane based fashion stylist/designer Jancie Brown is the brains behind the fashion clothing label Salt & Light Threads, which was only launched last year here in Australia.

Of Samoan heritage, Janice is also the owner of Bejanjan Style and is involved in fashion styling/design, hair styling and creative directing services for magazine shoots, model portfolios, celebrity styling, music video clips, commercial advertising, product shoots and personal styling.

Her artistic flare is unique and is differentiated by her individuality, style and Pacific heritage.

I’m excited to talanoa with Janice about how she became a stylist and designer and how her Pacific hertiage influences her work. She also offers some advice for aspiring stylists and designers and gives us a sneak peak at her 2012 collection for Salt & Light Threads!

Pearlynesia Desert Shoot by Bejanjan Style | Creative Director/Head Designer: Janice Brown | Photographer: Jay Romero | Fashion Stylist: Bejanjan Style (Jancie Brown) | Assistant Stylist: Sophie Gilboy | Make Up/Hair: Clementine Designs | Model: La’tecia Thomas | 2011

Rechel Jungle Fever Mermaid gown | $Au400 | Salt & Light Threads

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a stylist and designer?
I discovered my love for this industry at a very young age, when I had started in high school back in New Zealand it was a journey about identity really. I started to experiment with style and trends and always kept my eye out on what’s hot to trot, and eventually you start to evolve as a fashionista, but in my case I created a lot of my own style.

My mum would buy me clothes that I didn’t like (lol) but I never threw them away. I would look at them and picture in my head what I could do to the garment to add my personal touch to it and when my friends saw it they would say “that is sooo janjan”. Hence the creation of Bejanjan Style. My mum, however, was never impressed with my sudden urge to cut up my jeans and turn them into denim skirts, or recreating my church tops and skirts into a dress for my school discos.

I got into fashion retail at the age of 18 and started to build my experience in the industry, I started off as an in store fashion stylist and started to manage stores for fashion brands in New Zealand and Australia with the hope that one day I would build my own clothing label. I also got into finance and business because I needed the experience and knowledge on how to effectively manage and build my own brand.It’s not enough to just have a passion for your craft as many designers or stylists would assume.

If you want to cut down on your overheads when you are starting off, you not only need to have the creativity to produce the product but also know how to market your brand and product and maintain it. So I guess that’s what all those years working under the guidance of fashion business owners and finance whiz has prepared me for. It’s still early days for my label and still at baby steps,but I’m very optimistic about the future of Salt & Light Threads.

Turqua lace sleeve dress | $Au69 | SOLD OUT | Salt & Light Threads


Donna-K Paradise dress (yellow) | $AU280 ON SALE $AU150 | Salt & Light Threads

What challenges have you faced, and what advice would you have for aspiring Pacific designers?
As always when you venture out on your own especially in the fashion industry it’s always a high risk factor because you don’t know whether your new collection will take off as you project, or whether your target market will warm up to the idea of new styles that you have invested so much of your time and capital in.

So there were many challenges I have faced since the launch of my clothing line, but I fully embraced the difficulties because it really tested my endurance and patience in seeing through any circumstances and I learnt a vital lesson to ensure that my attitude controls my circumstances, because if it doesn’t, then my circumstance will well and truly destroy my attitude. I just really thank God every day for the wisdom; He gives me to persevere through anything.

My advice is, don’t be afraid to dream and to dream BIG!! To have a vision, and pursue it. And the best time to pursue it is NOW! Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity; you have to create your own opportunities. You are not defined by statistics assuming that because you come from a certain background or that your IQ level is below national average that you are voted most unlikely to succeed in life. Everyone has talents and crafts, but the only person that will stop you from developing them, is yourself.

Can you give us a little insight into your creative – how do you first approach a new project?
I do a lot of research. What the trends are, not only in Australia but abroad, things like what celebrities are wearing and what people love to buy from stores in some of my favourite brands, and then I go back to my roots and dig up what has shaped my style. I then start to create a look that separates me from what everyone else is pipelining but keeping in mind with the trends. What I cannot forget about what I do is that, it’s a business also, and the main aim for any business is to accumulate some sort of revenue, but why its more important to me, is because a lot of it I give and invest into others. So sticking to trends without being completely caught up in it, ensures that there’s a constant flow.

Tell us about some of your recent Bejanjan Style projects. What would have been your favourite?
I haven’t started any for 2012 however I had done a lot during 2011. My favorite would have to be the shoot in the Castle I did mid 2011 because I was able to create a unique look that contrasted from the location.

Most people would think princess and fairies when they think about a shoot at a castle, but I wanted to add a bit more edge to it. So I created 3 different looks. All the outfits and the accessories right up to the hair and the head pieces also the creative directing was all a Bejanjan Style idea that was bursting in my head so I had to put it to the lenses best way I could.

Castle Shoot | Creative Drector/Dress Designer: Janice Brown | Styling/ Hair Stylist: Bejanjan Style (Janice Brown) | Photographer: Jay Romero | Make Up Artist: The Beauty Mechanic (Alicia Lovich) | Models: Senita z, Vylita M and Kristi S | 2011

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your designs are influenced by your Pacific Island heritage. Tell us a little bit about that.
I was born in Samoa being under the influence of two very important women in my life, my grandmother in which I did not mention in my previous interview and my mother. They both influenced me in their own unique ways.

My grandmother Italia Meleisea Taouma was vibrant and full of life and culture, and taught me the importance of being a teine Samoa. From memory she would create my traditional costumes and head piece and taught me the siva Samoa (traditional Samoan dance) and would watch me perform at school back in Samoa. She was so graceful and elegant and it is because of her I could never forget my beloved Samoa and the strength and ability that a Samoan woman has.

My mother Seiafi Taouma Fatialofa is my rock. I don’t know any other woman like her. Like I always say, she’s my trail blazer in the sense that she really paved the way for me in all aspects of life. She taught me the importance of being a God fearing woman. Her style was quite the opposite of my grandmothers who was always decked out in colour and pattern, my mother kept it simple yet sophisticated and feminine. So they both played a vital role in my life growing up.

Bejanjan Style | Creative Director/Head Designer: Janice Brown | Photographer: Jay Romero | Fashion Stylist: Bejanjan Style (Jancie Brown) | Assistant Stylist: Sophie Gilboy | Hair Stylist: Clementine Designs | Make Up Artist: La’tecia Thomas | Model: Jewlz Holbeck | 2011

Do other art forms or artists in different disciplines inspire or have influenced you and how?
I actually have a love and appreciation of all art forms because I come from a long line of creative beings. My family consists of musicians, film producers/directors, dancers, actors and I guess I branched out into a different art form with fashion.

People who inspire me are the ones who use their art forms to give back where they can. Whether it be, through music, dance, production etc., if you can inspire others and bring hope into their lives through your craft, then you are on my highly favoured list.

Someone who tops this list at the moment and in whom I’ve always been inspired by is Film Producer/Director and Actor – Tyler Perry. Now there is a person who brings his life into his art in the hopes that people walk away from his shows and films feeling challenged and moved by the whole experience! Oh and you can’t forget the full abdominal workout- hysterical!.

If you could collaborate with another designer, stylist or creative person, who would you choose and why?
Oh I feel like a kid at a candy store just trying to narrow down my options of who to choose really. There are so many creative beings that I can only hope I would have the chance to work with.

Someone in the fashion industry I would love to work with is Tyra Banks-She’s ALL fierce and ALL fabulous and is a leading example of inspirational people who use their craft or talents to make a difference in others. She is the epitome of how “beautiful” should be perceived and I’m not just talking about the exterior.

But more on the home front at the moment I would love to collaborate with the Sass and Bide girls and Camilla – Australian Designers. I am loving the feel-good experience of colour dipped in tribal pattern and inspiration. The S&B girls and Camilla have surely come a long way on building their designs on a more international level.

Soli Rainforest Evening Gown | $Au400 | Salt & Light Threads

The Internet has seemingly made it easier for artists, designers, writers and musicians to share their work with the world. You yourself have your own website and fan page on Facebook  – do you think the Internet has created possibilities for Pacific artists and should they take advantage of it?
We live in a world that is ever changing and constantly evolving so we need to move with the times. We absolutely need to take advantage of the Internet and utilize the availability that is made to us. I took advantage of the fact that people are frequently taking the comfort of their homes to shop with the ease of letting the fingers do it all.

My product is more available to a wider world when it is online as oppose to it only being limited to where you are physically based and network. I had people on my Facebook page checking out my website from America and UK. So definitely make use of technology to get your art form out there.

What are you currently working on and future goals?
As of late, I have been working on revamping the style of Salt & Light Threads, so I am not releasing anything new until April which will be the one year anniversary since the launch. It will be a lot more refined in terms of design and style. So I’m just reshuffling at the moment. Also a men’s collection towards the end of 2012 in New Zealand, hopefully that all falls into place by September- October.

In the long run I’d like to eventually open up shop fronts and build the brand on a more international level and expand into children’s wear, accessories and shoes, but that’s something I’m looking at from a distance,for now its one step at a time. So in saying that I’m currently completing my degree in business to help me reach these goals, along with a whole lot of faith and like-minded people.It’s going to be a busy year-watch this space!

What’s your fashion tip for 2012?
CONFIDENCE is a must have accessory!! Every season will have different trends- it’s HOW you wear those trends that really separates the failures from the FABULOUS!! Style is not just about the material things you slap on; it’s how you carry yourself within them.

Sneak Peek: Exclusive to Urban Viti. Salt & Light Threads Unreleased design , a hibiscus lei inspired dress with a modern twist to the design and keeping with the trend of colour blocking with the royal blue and red. Cut-out on both sides and one sleeve arm maxi dress. Will be released in April 2012

Janice with her team.  Left to right: Models- Vylita M, Jewlz H, Mark Antony Howe, Janice Brown, Model- La’tecia Thomas, A/stylist-Sophie Gilboy

{Salt & Light Threads website is currently being revamped with new designs to be added later on in the year. So do check out the fabulous pieces on sale from the Salt & Light Threads 2011 colleciton. For purchase inquires please email  sales@saltandlightthreads.com.au}

Vinaka Janice! Can’t wait to see more of your new collection for 2012. 

Salt & Light Thread on the Kokonut wireless:

Salt & Light Thread: http://www.saltandlightthreads.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SALTANDLIGHT.THREADS
Email: sales@saltandlightthreads.com.au
Urban Viti Blog post | Pasifika Styles: mustard + tapa: http://urbanviti.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/pasifika-styles-mustard-tapa/

Interview conducted via email January, 2012. All images courtesy of Janice Brown.

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