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From Market Stall to Sell-Out Collections :: Nine Lives Bazaar

In 2012, Vanessa Cave and Rose Madden brought the world of the 70’s to the Gold Coast launching their brand Nine Lives Bazaar, starting with a humble stall at The Village Markets.

Taking inspiration from the 1970s in the form of freedom, expression, good times and bold clothes, the label - and the besties behind it - have gone from strength to strength.

Vanessa Cave & Rose Madden, 2020


Ladies, congratulations on the growth and success of your business Nine Lives Bazaar. Tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the label and how you made it all happen?

We’re self-confessed fossickers and forever inspired by the golden eras. Our clothing label began in 2012 as a labour of love - and as an avenue to share our amassing vintage collections. After peddling our wares along the south coast of Australia, from Byron Bay to Burleigh Heads and beyond, it wasn’t long before we felt the urge to bring our pre-loved fashion fixation into something of our very own! We are so mesmerized with bygone eras that we wanted to bring back some good ol’ 1970s love, namely in the form of freedom, expression, good times ... and bold clothes. Nine Lives Bazaar is reminiscent of old-school ensembles with a new-age style. This time around - they fit a little better, feel a little softer and make your heart sing a little bit brighter!

You launched the label eight years ago and we've loved watching your journey since launching at The Village Markets, to now selling out of your retail store in Coolangatta and gathering your online community spanning over 125k. Tell us your biggest accomplishment to date?

Aside from starting to pay ourselves a weekly wage from our very own business, one of our greatest accomplishments would definitely have to be opening our flagship store. From humble beginnings working from Rose's garage, I pinch myself that we have a space that customers can come and immerse themselves in the warm tones and nostalgic prints that NLB is all about! Over the years, we’ve really started to get to know our regular customers who support us collection after collection, and that feels pretty special!

We have to say though, our latest collection, Land of the Sun has been one of our BIGGEST accomplishment in this journey to date. we’re still smiling from ear to ear and actually still a little overwhelmed with the response. Pieces were selling out within minutes - it still completely blows our minds that people all across the globe love this little label of ours so much! We’re so excited to release our summer collection…stay tuned!

Vanessa and Rose at TVM, 2013

Tell us more about your latest collection, Land of the Sun. Did you expect that type of response when you launched?

Honestly? We were absolutely overwhelmed with the response to Land of the Sun! While still in our pjs and wrangling our babies, we were legitimately lost for words watching multiple styles sell out in a couple of minutes! We knew this collection was our best yet - but we actually started to get emotional when we realised just how much our audience loved it too! There was definitely a lot of hype around the collection before we launched and we are still pinching ourselves that our little homegrown market business is now a brand that thousands of retro loving women aspire to own!

Your styles are for the bohemian 70’s disco queens who want to use how they dress as an external aura of their creative selves. What artistic and cultural people and places do you find inspiration from?

Cher is our go-to muse and our fan base think so too! Every time we post inspo pics of her in epic 70s threads our followers go nuts! When we first started NLB, we actually used to sew samples from vintage patterns! We constantly find ourselves drawing inspiration from these still! 

Tell us about the transition from your humble TVM stall to opening up your own store?

Rose and I have always been op-shop addicts. We revel in the eclectic unknown and glorious gamut of unearthed treasures. Our piles of vintage gold were getting out of hand, but our desire to fossick was going nowhere! We always knew we wanted to be our own bosses but weren’t entirely sure how that would pan out. We were given a contact by a mate in Bali and started designing our own pieces with vintage flair and with our first little range & debuted it at The Village Markets. Our wares were lapped up by the locals! We thought we could quit our day jobs after our first market as we made $2k! We couldn’t believe it!

After a solid few years of insta-stalking potential customers, spamming social media with famous ‘look and laugh’ photos of our girl gang dressed in NLB and soul train style boomerangs, we have been lucky to pick up a tribe of like-minded loyal Bazaar babes who froth what we bring to life!

After quitting our day jobs to work solely on NLB,  we were quickly outgrowing Rose's garage and her husband was over us sprawling fabrics through the living room. We kept an eye on leases in the area and one day a shop popped up right on the only retro strip of the GC and directly next to our fave antique centre in Cooly - meant.to.be! We decked it out with the help of our husbands and boom our Bazaar was born!

Many local businesses start from pop up stalls like yourself, how did you see the markets as a platform for reaching customers and showcasing your brand?

It was such a good avenue to showcase our brand as we could really get on the level with our customer base! We loved seeing their faces light up when trying on our creations and would always quiz them on what they would like to see in upcoming collections. Especially because social media was only very new when we started, having that face to face interaction was priceless. 

The Gold Coast is such a creative hub, the home of many beautiful brands like yourself. How do you feel about the Gold Coast as a platform for creatives?

It excites us so much when we see new and exciting small businesses launching here! No longer can the Gold Coast be seen as a tacky holiday destination with no culture! It's amazing when we have started researching like minded businesses for collaborations, how many we come across that are GC based. The more the merrier we say! We absolutely love that there are also so many female founders out there doing what they love, supporting each other and absolutely killing it! It’s a great little community to be part of.

Australian consumers are starting to take a stand back from mass produced fashions and choosing brands who adapt an ethical green ethos. What sustainable practices does Nine Lives Bazaar have in place?  

We’ve moved our production from Bali to China, mainly because we were really interested in working with recycled fabrics, and that's something we just didn't have access to in Indonesia. Moving to China has also allowed us to start digitally printing our fabrics which means less fabric wastage and a cleaner footprint. 

Our factory in China has great working conditions for staff and above award wages. We were looking forward to visiting our factory next year, but alas 2020 and travel restrictions extending far beyond that - we’ll look forward to visiting when it’s safe to do and we have a bit more freedom to move around. Our goal is to work towards a more sustainable future with our factory partners for the brand. 

We have overhauled our packaging and are now using compostable postage bags. These are partly made from plants, which will  degrade with no toxic residues and are compostable at home.

Our latest collection, Land of the Sun, is our first sustainable collection - which we’re really excited about. Each piece is crafted with a beautifully soft fabrication called EcoVero, which is derived from certified sustainable wood pulp from responsibly managed sources. This process uses 50% less energy and water to manufacture than generic viscose. Our next collection, Sweet Thing, features new swim styles that are actually produced using recycled fabrics that are made from  discarded fishing nets and plastic bottles. This has been a pretty big step for us as a brand and our sustainability  journey. It’s something that has been on our radar for so long and has been a big focus for us in 2020. We still have a LONG way to go, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’re always looking for ways to improve our practises and ultimately walk a little lighter.

We have seen some STUNNING girls wearing Nine Lives Bazaar all over Instagram. What are your thoughts about Instagram as a tool for showcasing and marketing a brand like yourselves?

When we launched NLB it was such an incredible tool to showcase your wares to the world from your living room. It was free and had huge scope! We gained so much traction with our throwback 70’s imagery and bold aesthetic. 

Nowadays it's about an all encompassing approach - you have to be ALL across Insta, Facebook, Pinterest, partnering with well aligned content creators, doing events, creating content for blogs, shooting insanely good campaign imagery and constantly on the ball when it comes to engaging with your community.

We’ve grown a seriously engaged community of fellow lovers of locomotion, fiercely bold clothing and unapologetic expression - who just absolutely love what we do! Each collection launch receives an even more amazing response and sentiment than the last and they’re always as excited as we are about what’s to come next! We even have an exclusive Facebook Group ‘Bazaar Babes’ - it’s full of like-minded soul sisters supporting each other, sharing everything from their recent purchases, to their all time favourite designs, advice on styles and beyond! It’s quite humbling really - we love that we can foster a sense of connection to our customers and them to our wonderfully extravagant world!

Where can Gold Coasters buy Nine Lives Bazaar? 

You can find us at www.ninelivesbazaar.com.au or at our little Coolangatta Bazaar 2/33 McLean street Coolangatta (we offer a pick up in store option for those wanting to avoid postage fees and live locally!)

Who are your current style muses?

We always look to the past for our style muses - again Cher, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Nicks - there’s so many!

What part of your job would people find most surprising? 

That we personally still reply to lots of customer service emails and messages (usually whilst wrangling our babies!)

Who would you like to have a 30-minute meeting with?

Cher haha!

What do you feel when you are feeling uninspired?

Trawl the wonderland that is Pinterest! Inspiration is endless!

Best advice you have ever received?

Our mate who gave us our first production contact told us to start doing our own prints (rather than sourcing fabric)! We wouldn't be where we are today without this advice!

Favourite TVM stall?

We can't go past Huckleberry flowers on market day!

Shop Nine Lives Bazaar, here.

Follow Nine Lives Bazaar, here

Thanks so much for sharing, Rose and Vanessa! x

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Marissa

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