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Witu

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 17th January 2013

Elise Wilken (left) and Nat Turnbull (right) of accessories label Witu, in their Brunswick workspace.  Photo – Brooke Holm.

Witu semi-circle neoprene clutches.  I love these!   Photo – Brooke Holm.

Witu new Habitat backpack. Photo – Brooke Holm.

Witu semi-circle clutches campaign imagery.

Witu Habitat tote bag campaign imagery.

I love a go-getter.  When you meet a couple of gorgeous young girls (and by young I mean 21 and 23 respectively), who, between them, hold down about 8 casual creative jobs, as well as studying / working full-time, AND have time to launch their own little accessories label which is already stocked in some of Melbourne’s most fashion forward boutiques, you really feel like the future is in good hands.  Because if these two are anything to go by, I think Gen Y is gonna be ok.

Elise Wilken and Nat Turnbull are Witu – a sweet Melbourne based accessories label which I am firmly convinced is destined for very big things.  After meeting whilst working at a nightclub, this industrious pair put their heads together, and before long Witu was born.  What started as a fun Sunday afternoon side project has snowballed into a growing business – requests from friends quickly turned into retail enquiries, and Witu are now stocked at Monk House Design, Quirk And Co., and Alice Euphemia.  All products are also available in Witu’s online store.

When they’re not in the studio designing, sewing, and planning their next move, Nat and Elise have a fair bit going on.  As mentioned below, Elise works fulltime in graphic design and also freelances to a number of local businesses, whilst Nat is studying sculpture at uni, whilst also working for Melbourne terrarium masters Miniscapes.  We were also incredibly lucky to have Nat working for us at The Design Files Open House late last year – she was AMAZING.  I am talking serious old fashioned work ethic… this girl is a star.  We were so lucky to have her.  I have no idea how she fits it all in!

Anyway, I love Witu’s futuristic accessories and I hope you do too.   Their latest range is so versatile – it somehow seems magically casual and yet super stylish all at once.  Can’t decide if my fave is the fab new Habitat BACKPACK, or semi-circular clutch…

We asked Nat a few questions about Witu, here is what she had to say –

Hey Nat! Can you tell us a little bit about both of the creative halves that make up Witu?

Witu is comprised of two halves with ‘wi’ belonging to Elise Wilken and the ‘tu’ belonging to Natalie Turnbull.

Elise is a graphic designer for a music company where she works full-time, but she also has lots of freelance work taking photos for the likes of Beci Orpin and Monk House Design, as well as designing logos and branding for small companies and working for Beatbox Kitchen at festivals!  I (Nat) work for Miniscapes terrariums, which is my main job at the moment, but I also work at Monk House Design and for Beci Orpin, while I finish my last year at VCA studying a BA in Fine Art Sculpture. We like to keep busy and spend lots of our nights discussing ideas for new projects, sewing up new bags or going through colour combinations.

Neither of us are trained in fashion or product design, so we come at Witu from a graphics and sculpture background,  so a lot of our stuff has emerged from our interest in design and art.

How did this creative partnership came to fruition – how do you and Elise know one another, and what led you to launch Witu?

Funnily enough Elise and I met working on the door of a nightclub! We clicked straight away and have been making little things for maybe two years now. We always find time to work on Witu, because we have a lot of fun together and love making the things that we do. I think we have both have a lot of role models in our lives that have taught us that hard work pays off too. It is also a really nice thing to be able to work with one of your best friends.

Witu has itself been a really natural progression. As most people do, we started making things that we just wanted for ourselves, which led to making things for friends and so it goes on to where we are now, which is actually far further than we envisaged at the start. Now that we are here though, we see so much possibility for growth and more Witu products, which is really exciting for us.

What roles do each of you play in the creation of Witu’s amazing neoprene empire?

Elise and I are actually good at very different things. Elise runs all of the design and packaging of our of products and also does a lot of the creating. I am kind of the organiser, managing our stock and dealing with the stores, while seeking and gaining opportunities for Witu. Elise never lets me cut anything because I can never do it as well as her, and I’d never let her write a Facebook post because it wouldn’t be funny to anyone else but her!  Our differing skills seem to complement each other perfectly and as a whole we make a pretty sweet team.

What’s next for Witu and what are you looking forward to?

We have an installation at Monk House Design next week to launch our new backpacks! We are creating a habitat-like installation based on a photograph that our friend Jason Hamilton took of our bags in the wilderness. At the moment we are collecting sticks and logs for this installation, and getting a few prints made up. Just another day in the office hey? Besides that we are working on our next range of accessories, and looking to branch out interstate.

Witu is stocked in Melbourne at Monk House DesignQuirk And Co., and Alice Euphemia. They’d love a couple of interstate stockists…!  Products are also available in Witu’s online store.  

Elise Wilken at the sewing machine.  Photo – Brooke Holm.

We made Elise unpin a whole backpack just for this shot.  Sorry Elise!  Photo – Brooke Holm.

Witu necklaces in the making… Photo – Brooke Holm.

Nat Turnbull you are painfully cute.  Photo – Brooke Holm.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 17th January 2013

11 comments

  • Cheryl from BusiChic 2 years ago

    OMG love this – gorgeous energy in this post and kudos ladies for making backpacks cool! Love that pink!

  • veggie mama 2 years ago

    The tooooooote! I’m sold.
    I could just eat these girls up with a spoon. I love a go-getter! Makes me wish I was more creative.

  • sunshine & daydreams 2 years ago

    I wish I had a Natalie! You are very lucky to have found each other. A perfect yin and yang.

  • Jenna 2 years ago

    Awesome work girls! Fantastic products and a great read!

  • Jules 2 years ago

    Well done girls!
    Nice work!

  • Pip 2 years ago

    These people are ADORABLE! Yikes! :)

  • Greta 2 years ago

    Wonderful bags! I just love the colours!

  • beci 2 years ago

    go nat! go elise! good one ladies!

  • Elle 2 years ago

    What a great little story, featuring some fantastically creative products! Well done Witu!
    Elle – Design, Form, Function

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