Friday, April 3, 2009

Interview - Danielle Sanders

Ella Sanders winter 09 scarves and beanies

Dresses from the Ella Sanders 08/09 summer range

You guys must know the work of Melbourne-based textile designer Danielle Sanders... I've featured her stunning knitwear and accessories a few times here over the last year, but I just realised I had never interviewed Danielle properly, so this interview is long overdue!

In addition to consulting for various homewares and fashion clients, Danielle runs her own freelance textile design business under the name Ella Sanders. (Originally the label was called Ellka when first launched in 2007).

All Danielle's stunning designs are made using the highest quality yarns, and natural fibres where possible. Her deliciously cute winter beanies, caps and cosy hot water bottle covers are created using pure lambswool and merino yarns, whilst her popular 08/09 summer range combined crocheting techniques, offering trans-seasonal scarves, camisoles and dresses in beautiful soft cotton/bamboo yarns.

Before starting her own business, Danielle worked for many years for Country Road Australia, first as a textile designer, and later as Textile Design Manager. Her work there included textile design across Womens and Menswear, Homewares, kids wear and accessories.

A huge thanks to Danielle for her time with this interview. :) Do check out her website for more info on Ella Sanders stockists all over Australia!

Details from Danielle's office / studio

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study, what path led you to textile design initially, and how did the launch of your own business come about?

I was really drawn to knitting as I grew up with my mum knitting various items (mostly 80's jumpers!) I also have 3 very creative sisters who I guess influenced my passion for art and design from an early age. After completing a degree in visual arts in 2000, I began to knit scarves mostly and sell them to a few Melbourne boutique stores. That really got me interested in the textile/fashion area . I went on to study a BA in textile design at RMIT melbourne, graduating in 2003. After working as a textile designer for various companies including CountryRoad I took the plunge and started Ella Sanders in 2007.

Some of Danielle's homewares

Where is Ella Sanders stocked in Melbourne and Australia-wide?

Currently it is stocked throughout VIC, NSW, QLD, SA, WA & TAS. Some stockists include - Morrison (nationally), Lulu (East St Kilda), Winkle & Drift (Sth Melbourne), Emia - Sorrento , Belki (carlton), Mac Pelican (Hawthorn), Syrup (hampton), Miss Lau (CBD)

The current winter 09 range is being delivered nationally over the next two weeks and will be available online at

(For all stockists details visit

A lot of independent creative professionals say they love the creative side of their business, but hate the paperwork and ‘business’ side of things. How do you balance the paperwork, accounting, and marketing side of your job?

It is definitely a tricky one! I think as you go you have to be prepared to make mistakes and work out how to do things more efficiently. I have now got an accountant to work on the finance side of things and tax/bas statements which is absolutely the best (no more late nights with excel!) I always dedicate at least one day per week to marketing and following up on things - making lists at each day and prioritizing is definitely a good habit.

A peek into Danielle's Melbourne home

How is your business structured?

Currently I am operating the design and production and my husband is managing budgets, some marketing and finance. It's definitely important to share the workload as much as possible and establish who does what and when. I also have someone helping me out on a casual basis during very busy times with invoicing and delivering orders.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Very influenced by simple natural elements and textures, as well as a strong Scandinavian design feel and colour palette. Ella Sanders draws upon this aesthetic to offer effortless, high quality accessories.

Winter 09 hot water bottle covers! Love them!

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

Missoni – for the amazing knitwear and textiles. Danish label Malene Birger – for the knitwear and designs. Marimekko – finnish textile house for prints and use of colour. Maagali Pascali – Balinese designer. I love Aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre – the use of colour and pattern is trully stunning. Other artists include Louise Bourgeois, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley.

Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

I love scouring op-shops and markets in hope to find a random vintage knitwear patterns or textiles, a lot of designer blogs such as The Sartorialist, Print & Pattern & of course The Design Files!*

I have many print pattern books from Amazon (they have a great range) and my favorite spot for inspiration is Bali. We try and get there each year for a good break!

* Aw shucks! Thanks Danielle! - Lucy x

New gorgeous kidswear from the Winter 09 range

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

A lot of emailing, invoicing, sketching ideas and always working on the next range. Most days there aren't enough hours in the day!

Ellka 08/09 summer scarves - from left, George Scarf in antique white, striped Madeleine Scarf and George Scarf in blush

What are you most proud of professionally?

Actually starting the business in the first place - seeing someone in the street wearing one of your items definitely gives you a great feeling.

What's the best thing about your job?

Doing what you love – designing and being your own boss!

And the worst?

Not being able to switch off very easily – I'm definitely guilty of letting it creep in at all times no matter where I am.

What would be your dream creative project?

For my last year at Uni we had a great creative project where we could design any knitted textile for a garment. I machine knitted (on a very old singer machine) knitted fabric, then felted it, cut it up and rearranged it into a geometric pattern and turned it into a dress – it was a lot of work but I really loved the whole process. It ended up winning Object Gallery – Designer award 2004, Surry Hills, Sydney.
I'd love to be commissioned to do something like that again!

What are you looking forward to?

I'm currently working on winter 2010 range, which is very fun and exciting. I'm also looking forward to some cooler weather so I can wear some winter woolies myself!

Melbourne Questions –

The best shops in Melbourne for gorgeous knitwear and/or yarns?

Wondoflex – Malvern, Yarn Barn - Brunswick & Marta's Yarns in Caulfield.

Melbourne’s best bookshop for creative inspiration?

The Avenue Bookstore in Albert Park and love Magnation for all the international mags. The Ian Potter gallery bookstore is also great.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Nacionale – Mills street Albert Park. the best polenta chips going around – I have been looking for a while!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

On the bike going for a ride along Beach Rd, then at a cafe with the girls for a breakki afterwards.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Dandenong Savers – it never fails to deliver or surprise


  1. YAY lots of love for Danielle's work!
    I have a mustard colour hat from 07 Elka times...bought from Magnolia Square market. Love it too bits. Great interview Lucy x

  2. ooooh, I had that last image of the three scarves bookmarked ages ago and forgot where I found it... I wanted the stripy scarf- and now I see it's called the Madeleine Scarf! It clearly wants to live with me!

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  4. Great work Dannielle Sanders...I love your design work and really like this post too much. Thanks Lucy for sharing this interview.