THE only shock about moving to Ballarat for Harvest Powell was the winter.
“No one had warned me about it. It was definitely my initiation,” Ms Powell said.
“I’ve made sure I’m prepared this year.”
Ms Powell is the owner and designer of fashion label Hope and Harvest, which she began in Melbourne and then relocated to Ballarat last year.
The label is a top plus-size brand sold throughout the US, New Zealand, Australia and France and online through The Iconic.
Ms Powell started the label in Melbourne in 2010 after realising there was a hole in the market for designer plus-size clothes.
“I’d been doing some fashion design for smaller sizes and people always asked me when I would do some bigger sizes, as I’ve always been a bit bigger,” she said.
Ms Powell said she was after a lifestyle change and had spent time in Ballarat before deciding to move her business here.
“I was staying with a friend and fell in love with the area, so bought an investment property and moved here,” she said.
“I love Ballarat and its lifestyle. People are so friendly.
“I tell all of my Melbourne friends to move here. I’ve become a Ballarat groupie.”
Ms Powell said when she started Hope and Harvest, she was only bringing out a small and limited range to see how it would go.
“Before anyone had seen any of the clothes it was getting all of this attention and there was a real hype around it, because it was something new,” she said.
It has now been named one of the top plus-size labels in the world by Madison Plus N.Y.C and Essence Magazine.
Ms Powell said most of the clothing and fashion design was done from Ballarat, with an office still in Melbourne and some of the work being done there.
She said the fabric was printed in Melbourne and only some intricate work, including beading, was outsourced overseas.
“Plus-size works differently. We really test our samples and make sure they’re right before making it available,” Ms Powell said.
She said the business had tripled since the relaunch last year, but it was still a small team doing all the work.
“We’re still very small,” she said. “We have about five employees all up, and then outsource some manufacturing and bring in a lot of freelancers.”
Ms Powell said there were many local customers who had bought her label’s clothes who wouldn’t know the business had moved to Ballarat yet.