LAURA Howard realised her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer in creating her online label Saint.
The Newcastle brand - which was poised to launch before COVID-19 necessarily hemmed the world in - is a small-batch production of classic, sustainable pieces.
Minmi-raised Howard, 26, admits to once being a slave to the fast fashion she now decries: "Being young and impressionable at 17 and thinking you need to have a new outfit for every occasion, I felt that pressure."
Howard was taught to sew early by her mother, who encouraged her children's creative smarts. When the internet was born, her every spare minute was spent researching favourite designers and brands.
After high school she completed a Certificate Three in applied fashion design at TAFE. A work experience stint at modern Newcastle boutique The Lair led to a four-year stint managing the store, where she refined her design and leather-making skills in its production studio.
She interned at high-end Surry Hills online clothing brand The Undone, honing her e-commerce and marketing nous, then did a NEIS course at The Business Centre in Newcastle, where she developed a business model before launching Saint.
Saint represents her fashion journey to arrive at a point where she strives to be small-scale and sustainable.
"It is a breath of fresh air for me; after many years I worked out the pieces I had held on to were really well made, in neutral colours, a lot of black, and all classic, considered pieces," she says.
In her Wickham studio, Howard makes each garment in her first collection by hand and to order using quality fabrics known as "dead stock" - leftover remnants from high-end labels - and locally-sourced organic cottons. Her garments are undefined by seasons and crafted to endure.
Howard makes a few garments of each style then accepts orders to avoid wastage. She is planning a mini-collection for spring/summer then will add pieces as she is inspired.
"I love that I can be totally independent and online I can see what works, and edit as I go," she says.