Featured Designer: Cassia Essentiels

Cassia Essentiels convertible canvas midi bag - dragon fruit

FK chats to Fonny, about her contemporary yet playful accessories label, Cassia Essentiels.

Tell us a bit about Cassia Essentiels and what we can expect to discover?
Cassia Essentiels is a Melbourne based design label which has been created to fulfil some of our needs that have evolved in the modern world.  Cassia’s products range from small essentials such as electronic accessories: iPad sleeves, phone sleeves, laptop sleeves, to travel bags, laptop bags and everyday bags for stylish women.

You will discover that Cassia Essentiels focuses on contemporary, thoughtful design.  With a strong focus on colours and playful graphic prints on cotton canvas, combined with other sustainable materials including Australian merino wool felt.  Clean lines and classic designs set off with a creative twist become a strong point of design, and let each type of material speak for itself.  Each Cassia product is handmade, with love, to be unique and original.

What was the motivation behind starting your label?
Coming from Jakarta I grew up surrounded by lots of colours.  You will always see colour in my work, which will often be vibrant and exotic, as I like playing with shades and textures from tropical fruits and flowers.  I was always surrounded with many textiles from traditional hand printed batik, to many others from India.
My family was in the batik textile industry for generations, and my beloved dad was the print designer.  I always love textiles especially made from natural fibres, and have always loved prints, colours and making things by hands.  I always wanted to immerse myself in something that I love doing, pouring creativity and energy into my designs and projects.  I studied creative media at RMIT, worked in fashion design and am now continuing studying textile and graphic design.

Cassia Essentiels convertible geo canvas tote - dragon fruit

Cassia Essentiels wool felt geo printed laptop 15" sleeve - cranberry

Cassia Essentiels canvas bags

What do you love about working with accessories and what keeps you creatively motivated?
I love working with accessories because they are so much fun to make, and can endlessly challenge your creativity with the abundance of resources now available to us.  My children are under 5 years old, they are my source of inspiration, keeping me amused with colours from toys, clothes, illustrative books and drawings which I love dearly.  Also, over the last couple of years Melbourne has seen so many artistic design markets, like The Finders Keepers, which are so motivating for me to see how talented people show their work.

What is your workspace like and what is your creative process?
I don’t have a large-scale, dedicated workspace yet – my workspace is currently my own dining table, which I have to convert to a family table every day.  I take over a lot of spaces around our apartment for stock.  My 3 year old Bailey loves jumping on the table whilst I’m working or sometimes on my lap wanting to play.  I think the chaos of this helps to fuel my ideas, and maybe even shines through in the playful prints I love to create.

My creative process starts by planning the range of collections, I like the theme of the collection to carry on from the small accessories to big bags.  Once I come up with a main style, then I work on the designing prints and playing with the colour ways that incorporate well with the overall style of bags.  This can take much longer than the rest of the process.  To complete things, I love adding a little touch or twist of my own style.

Cassia Essentiels wool felt geo printed laptop 15" sleeve - cranberry

Cassia Essentiels wool felt geo printed bag

Cassia Essentiels work in progress

What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
There are plenty of fashion accessories labels out there especially from Melbourne, for me it is naturally challenging to compete with them… but I look at these as sources of inspiration instead.

It is also constantly challenging when I work from home part time and also being a mum of two children.  But I love the excitement and the adrenalin of running around and thinking about multiple things all at once.

What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Cassia Essentiels in the future?
Always love doing better than my previous range and constantly being innovative and resourceful.  So, my next projects will be delivering essentials for men, starting from phone sleeves, card sleeves and iPad, laptop sleeves.

Where do we see cassia in future? – more involved in design markets all over Australia and supplying to specialty shops and understanding how to provide, new, thoughtful solutions, to help our customers stay organised and stylish, in the modern world.


Cassia Essentiels back pack

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