FK talks to sisters Juliana, Rowena & Angela behind the label and stores, High Tea with Mrs Woo.
Tell us a bit about your stores and the concept behind it.
High Tea with Mrs Woo is our clothing label as well as the name of our stores.
It all began many years ago where we grew up in Malaysia and have strong childhood memories of our grandparents’ 100 year old goldsmith / watchmaker shop / family home. Worn wood, rusty tools, age-old materials and textures still resonate with us today. We also grew up with many strong women in our lives – our mother, grandmothers and aunts. Mrs Woo is the synergy of women who inspire us.
High Tea with Mrs Woo is born from our collective memory. We weave nostalgia and romantic escape into our clothing. We make garments and objects that are charming, thoughtful and everlasting. We also take the opportunity to present products by other makers and designers that reflect this philosophy in their work.
When did you open the doors and what was the motivation?
We opened High Tea with Mrs Woo in Newcastle in the summer of 2004, where we are still based today. It all began as a hobby in 2001 when we ran a vintage clothing store whilst still studying at Uni. We thought it would be fun to play shop and not worry about getting a proper job at the time! When we decided to take it a bit more seriously, the shop evolved into High Tea with Mrs Woo clothing label and artisanal store. Our motivation today is still the same as 7 years ago – to make strong beautiful long-lasting clothing.
What kind of treats and treasures can we expect to find at your shops?
We are chuffed every time a customer tell us about their special experiences in our store. Perhaps it is because we are quite heartfelt people and we’ve tried to create beautiful spaces by giving attention to the smallest details. You can expect to find a tight selection of well-made clothing as well as thoughtful stationery, ceramics, jewellery, homewares and special objects that we love, that are thoughtful and everlasting, that compliment our designs and the nostalgia-inspired feeling of our stores. Much of our furniture and displays are also handmade, re-worked, designed and built by our partners and ourselves which makes the space quite unique 🙂
What labels do you currently stock and what do you look for when considering new designers in your shops.
We predominantly stock the full range of our own clothing designs and showcase one or two other clothing labels that best compliment our work.
We believe in the importance of curation and space. We really dislike jam-packed merchandising so we try to stock a tight selection of goods. We are not looking for lots of labels, just the right ones. Quality of work and packaging presentation is extremely important. It is a wonder to us how some designers and makers under-consider this aspect of their work. It is a shame when we receive great quality products but terrible packaging. When necessary we will go to great lengths re-packaging some works due to their under-presentation.
What is your favourite part about running your shops?
Juliana loves coming up with beautiful displays and merchandising ideas; Angela loves watching customers fall in love with a piece of clothing or object that they ‘cannot live without’; Rowena loves the amazing little stories that come back from customers about things that have happened to them whilst wearing a piece of Mrs Woo.
When you are not working, what other things are you doing?
When we are not working we are spending as much time as we can home! The wonderful thing about being in Newcastle is that we all live close to the ocean and there are many great little places that we frequent for inspiration and to catch up with friends.
– Juliana is a real homebody and loves watching movies; Angela loves getting outdoors bike riding and swimming; Rowena reads and pursues little projects when she has time at home. We all love frequenting antique stores, enjoy good food and good company 🙂
HIGH TEA WITH MRS WOO (Sydney)
72b Oxford Street, Paddington NSW 2021
Phone (02) 8065 5345
Trading Times: MON-SAT 10:45-5:15 SUN 11:15-3:45
HIGH TEA WITH MRS WOO (Newcastle)
74 Darby Street, Cooks Hill NSW 2300
Phone (02) 4926 4883
Trading Times: TUE-SAT 10:30-5:30 SUN 10:30-2:30 CLOSED MON