Dream Job

Bonnie Mooney · Textile Designer, Gorman

EXCITED today to unveil another new series  – Dream Job!  In this column we’ll be spotlighting exceptional creatives who aren’t necessarily entrepreneurs or freelancers, but who have landed their dream role at a leading Australian creative business.

We’ll delve into how each candidate got their job, what they do day-to-day, and the valuable lessons they’ve picked up along the way.

First off, we talk fashion design, colouring inside the lines, and business vs. creativity with talented Gorman textile designer, Bonnie Mooney.

Elle Murrell

Bonnie Mooney has her dream job: Textile and Accessory Designer at  Gorman. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Bonnie Mooney, textile and Accessory Designer at  Gorman. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

She’s got a penchant for Connector Pens. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
3rd of February 2017

Bonnie Mooney is a textile and accessory designer at Gorman. She started in the design room of the popular Australian fashion label in May 2013, and is behind that frenzy-inducing chips-and-seagulls print, among a host of other bold, whimsical, and endlessly covetable prints and patterns. If you’ve ever had an uncontrollable ‘GET-IN-MY-WARDROBE’ moment at Gorman… you can probably blame Bonnie.

We recently sat down with the 28-year-old to polish off a few unfinished sentences :

The most important verb in the get-your-dream-job lexicon is

fake it (’til you make it).

I landed this job by

First year out of school I went to Brighton Bay Art Design + Photography and completed Certificate 4 in Design, this was a full-time one-year course where you built skills across all areas of art and design and produced a folio, which could be used to present to universities for further education. I then completed a Visual Communication degree at Monash University, Caulfield.

My first design role was while I was still at uni. I was working part-time as shop girl at the iconic Douglas & Hope. Owner, Cath Hope asked me to help her with some graphics for tote bags, tea towels, socks, and melamine plates etc. Cath stocked Beci Orpin’s then brands Princess Tina and Tiny Mammoth, this is where I first met Beci. I then began an internship with The Jacky Winter Group/Lamington Drive Gallery working on their annual publication showcasing the artists on their books, this turned into a full-time role within the company as a Junior Designer and PA to Director Jeremy Wortsman. After a year in this role, I slowed down a bit and helped out Beci in her studio part-time for a few months before accepting the Print Designer role with Karen Walker in Auckland, New Zealand. The role was advertised on their Facebook Page and my friend sent it to me, urging me to apply, despite the fact I’d never created a yardage or textile design in my life. This was initially meant to be a 6-month maternity leave cover role. The then print designer didn’t return to the role so I was asked if I’d like to stay on and I did for another year-and-a-half!

After living across the ditch  I was starting to miss home too much. I put the feelers out to some friends in the industry, and before I knew it Beci Orpin had introduced me to Lisa Gorman over e-mail and it went from there.


Garden Bed print © Gorman.

Colour selection! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Bonnie’s workspace must-haves include good natural light and a light breeze, hence her appointment as Temperature Control Sheriff. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A typical day for me involves

Muesli and makeup before being driven mad in peak-hour traffic as I drive from the West to Abbotsford by 8.30am. I always pick up a coffee on the way from LBSS on Victoria Street, that is my reward for making it through the daily commute!

At the office, most days involve a lot of emailing with suppliers, agents, collaborating artists – keeping things chugging along and on time. We are usually working across three seasons at once, around 10 months ahead of the collections launching in to stores, so there is a lot of multi-tasking of mental lists going on in my head. I also spend the day reviewing and commenting on print strike offs or samples that arrive. Catching up with Lisa on where everything is at, and of course creating prints and designing accessories when it’s that time of the season.

Once the working day ends I’m usually fantasizing about getting horizontal on my couch, but I do make it to pilates a couple of times a week and also enjoy catching up with friends for dinner before hitting the hay. I need a lot of rest so I’m usually tucked up in bed by 10.00pm.

The highlight of the day is

…receiving parcels! It’s always exciting to rip open boxes full of print strike offs or samples – seeing your work come to life, transformed from a sketch on a spec sheet to the real thing never gets old. It’s a bit like show and tell, lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, and of course the occasional, ‘oh boy… what happened here?!’

The most rewarding part of my job is…

…meeting and working with our collaborating artists. We now collaborate with an artist on apparel prints every collection. We also work with Australian jewellery or accessory designers and makers on a Gorman exclusive collection each season.

At the beginning of each season we put together ideas of whose aesthetic we think could marry well with the Gorman style and also something that will grab the attention of the ‘Gorman girl’. After reaching out to the artist (and hopefully receiving a YES back from them) we are sent photographs or scans of their artwork. We then take their paintings, drawings and create prints/textile designs. We might alter the colours and configurations of the original piece, and convert the artwork in to something that can be yardage printed.

It’s special to see and hear the reaction of each collaborator when they first look at the prints mocked up on apparel shapes, as embroidered or embellished appliqué motifs or big costume earrings… it’s like they are looking at their own work for the first time. I feel lucky to be in a role where I have the platform to reach out to people I have long admired, and then get to work with them and their artwork. I’ve made some great friends along the way!

On the other hand, the most challenging aspect of my job is…

…colouring inside the lines, so to speak. Business vs. creativity and finding a balance. Being apart of a relatively large commercial brand means that you can only push ideas so far before the customer doesn’t get it… and creatively that can feel restrictive at times.

Essentially it’s about understanding the customer and being across what’s selling and what isn’t, analyzing that data and moving forward with more knowledge for the next collection. You have to accept the limits and realise that, although you might love to wear a dress with a giant embroidered monkey eating a sequined banana on it, not everyone feels the same way! It’s a lesson in compromise and acceptance! 


Wing It print © Gorman.

My workplace is

…much smaller than people would expect! Our design/production team comprises of six, including Lisa Gorman. This often surprises people when they compare it to the number of retail stores and followers the brand has. I really appreciate how small the team is, and that we all work together in a collaborative way. We all get along well and share similar interests, like pizza for example. We know how to get the job done but also have a good laugh together; I think there is a good balance.

My co-workers see me as

…the Temperature Control Sheriff. I’m the token hot-blooded person in the room so I’m constantly concerned by the lack of air flow, and bewildered by how everyone around me could possibly be wearing jumpers.

A perfect workspace has

…good natural light. This is really important when working on textiles; so much of my time is spent picking colours or checking colours.

It also needs to have a big desk with enough space for drawing or painting, and snacks are vital to keep functioning after lunch. I think I’m meant to suggest dark chocolate or a handful of nuts? But let’s be real, I’ll say yes if someone offers me some Kit Kat!

A desk chair that is set up to keep the neck and back in check is worth it. I hope to not resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame by the time I turn 30. Also some easy listening tunes to set the tone and momentum for the day.

Bonnie draws original motifs, consults on other prints, and helps coordinate artist collaborations. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Bonnie pictured at Gorman HQ, with design team members Lani, Sunny and Sophie. ‘The small size of our team often surprises people’ Bonnie explains. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is

‘Put your big girl pants on and deal with it!’ – Mum.

Over the years, my role has

…grown and evolved. I began working solely as the print designer, and for a short while I assisted Sarah and Lisa with apparel specs. I then took on homeware design and a year or so later the ever-growing accessories category was added to my portfolio. From hand making wax moulds for earrings, selecting acetates for sunglasses and materials for footwear – it’s been a varied experience and there has been a lot of learning on the job.

In the next five years I’d like to

… be doing lots of things! I have many ridiculous dreams and ideas of what’s possible, but that’s ok! Some of them include: becoming Cat Power or Nick Cave’s drummer, teaching art to kids, writing a book, starting my own fashion label, living in Milan working for Gucci, and spending Summers in France with my handsome Italian husband. I enjoy aiming high and fantasizing about my future, I think it’s very healthy to do so and as I’ve experienced, sometimes those fantasies become reality – so why the hell not dream!

Recent Dream Job