1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Former early childhood educator, Caroline tames her inner perfectionist and the symptoms of her autoimmune disease by focussing her energy on sewing beautifully practical accessories for her handmade brand, Banksia and Bloom

22 January 2021

Designer Spotlight: Banksia and Bloom

visit store

Educator turned sewer, taming perfectionism with handmade therapy, Caroline: ‘Sewing handmade has helped me let go of perfection and appreciate each piece I make has its own distinctiveness’

My name is Caroline and I am the maker behind Banksia & Bloom. I live in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales with my husband, Alan, two boys Ollie 10 and Campbell 9 with our pet dog, Buster.

Former early childhood educator, Caroline tames her inner perfectionist and the symptoms of her autoimmune disease by focussing her energy on sewing beautifully practical accessories for her handmade brand, Banksia and Bloom

We live on a small rural property in Round Mountain. My husband and I made the move from Sydney’s Northern Beaches about 12 years ago and, after travelling and living overseas previously, built our forever home here.

Rolling green hills of Caroline’s Northern Rivers rural property: ‘We moved here for the quiet, slow paced life and to have quality time with our children’

We love the beach lifestyle and are so lucky experience this alongside our rural home. We moved here for the quiet, slow paced life and to have quality time with our children and family. Home is my happy place!

The family playground: the beautiful northern NSW coastline not far from Caroline’s rural home

It is at home I now love to create my items for Banksia & Bloom. I have a little nook I can go to if I need some quiet space to contemplate ideas and to sew. My husband made me a fantastic wooden bench which sits perfectly under the windowsill where I can gaze out over the greenery, sipping my coffee while I work and listening to music.

Caroline’s home studio with a wooden sewing bench under the window built by her husband for Caroline to sew with a view of the family property: ‘I love that I can store all my fabric and equipment here and leave projects out until finished

I love that I can store all my fabric and equipment here and leave projects out until finished. My children are often interested in what I am making. I even get requests for their own personal bags, the latest being a pencil case for school. They inspire me with ideas for practical items!

At work in her home studio in northern NSW

I gain most of my inspiration from the fabrics available by amazing print designers and gravitate towards fabrics that reflect Australian flora and fauna. I can find myself spending time perusing fabric stores online for inspiration.

A beautiful coastal banksia flower: ‘Australian wildflowers are my favourite, so most of my pieces reflect this’

I love using natural fibred fabrics, such as cotton and linen, for their quality, texture and appearance. We have so many banksia trees along our coastal road and Australian wildflowers are my favourite, so most of my pieces reflect this.

One of Caroline’s handmade pouches in a striking orange and pink Joselyn Proust native bouquet print’

You could say I am a perfectionist by nature. Sewing handmade has helped me let go of perfection and appreciate each piece I make has its own distinctiveness. I only sew a few items at a time and a reason why you won’t find many items that are the same at Banksia & Bloom.

The interior of a Banksia and Bloom fabric pouch with handmade of Caroline’s handmade pouches in a striking orange and pink Joselyn Proust native bouquet print’

Everything is handmade including my small labels you will find inside each piece. I really enjoy the entire creative process from selecting fabrics, cutting out and ironing interfacing, sewing together, to wrapping the parcels. It brings me joy each time someone purchases one of my handmade items.

A Banksia and Bloom creation wrapped in brown paper and twine and ready to ship: ‘My mother and grandmother were sewing enthusiasts and my mother was my first teacher’

I have always enjoyed creative pursuits such as playing the piano, drawing, singing, and my interest in sewing began as a child. My Mother and Grandma were sewing enthusiasts and my mother was my first teacher. She sewed many of our clothes as children and I still have the doll’s clothing my Grandma made for my cabbage patch doll.

Banksia and Bloom pouch zippers in progress

I continued my interest and pursued sewing throughout high school. Sewing has always been a hobby for me and I really enjoyed making things for myself, my home, my friends and family over the years.

Close up of a pouch zipper and the quality craftsmanship of Caroline’s pieces: ‘It was after I stopped working as an educator during 2019 that I rekindled my enjoyment of sewing

My background is in Education and I have worked as an Early Childhood teacher in various settings during the past twenty years. I especially loved working in Family Day Care and working from home.

A handcrafted Banksia and Bloom wristlet purse in pink and orange Joselyn Proust protea print on Navy with grey linen panels.

It was after I stopped working as an Educator during 2019 that I rekindled my enjoyment of sewing. I was recovering from Ross River Virus and managing Inflammatory Arthritis (an autoimmune disease). I began to purchase fabrics and set up my sewing machine. The convenience of ordering fabrics online was perfect for me because I didn’t have to drive or walk around a shop or lift bolts of fabric!

The happy smiling face behind Banksia and Bloom, Carolyne: ‘Sewing became very therapeutic for me. It took my mind off my pains and fatigue.’

Sewing became very therapeutic for me. It took my mind off my pains and fatigue, as my focus was entirely shifted to what I was making. I began sewing all sorts of things from cushion covers, clothing to bags and then purses. I had to renew a few skills, such as how to install a zipper. This was easy with online tutorials!

A pair of Banksia and Bloom zipper pouches; one in a grey linen and the other in a cockatoo and gum blossom print

Ever searching for something I really enjoyed making and discovered that making pouches, purses and bags brought me the most joy. Friends and family inspired me to sell my handmade purses after requests for custom made designs.

Pouches in progress: ‘There is a level of vulnerability in displaying and sharing with others, the work you create for the first time’

There is a level of vulnerability in displaying and sharing with others, the work you create for the first time. I am new to the whole process of online selling and opened my Madeit store at the end of October 2020. Madeit comes with a supportive community and there is a plethora of information to help set up a store along with promotional opportunities. I love supporting locally made and small businesses too so, wanted to be a part of this Australian online marketplace.

A Banksia and Bloom tote bag hanging on a cabinet drawer handle: ‘My confidence is developing and I now look forward to uploading each new creation’

It made sense to me to just start selling, even with a handful of items at first. My confidence is developing and I now look forward to uploading each new creation. It is also an honour to be able to share my journey so far with the Madeit community of sellers, customers and followers.

A Banksia and Bloom zippered pouch in grey and bold Kirsten Katz floral print panels

I am learning as I go and hope to continue to grow into a small business. For me, handmade represents a slower lifestyle while also leaving less of a footprint on our environment. I like that no two handmade pieces are exactly the same. I take a lot of care in making each item while also trying not to be perfect!

A Banksia and Bloom warratahs print fabric pouch: ‘Handmade represents a slower lifestyle while also leaving less of a footprint on our environment

Pursuing this handmade venture has given me the flexibility I have sought for spending more time with my husband and children and for managing my health better. One of my favourite parts in the process of making my products, is when I get to turn a piece from the inside out! I get to see how it has all come together, much like a flower in bloom!



Visit Banksia and Bloom to find for practical pouches and accessories in native botanical prints: Caztunncliff

Recent Blog Posts