Home' In The City : In The City - Issue 4 Contents 20
In the City Summer
Monday November 29, 2010
Canberra’s answer to the Kardashians, the entrepreneurial
Derek sisters (left to right: Ana, Diana and Marijana) at
their hip Braddon boutique itrip iskip.
s little girls, armed with a makeshift cash register and
‘customers’ bearing a striking resemblance to their
parents, the Derek sisters would “play shop”.
It was clear, even at this time that the owners of
itrip iskip fashion boutique in Braddon, Marijana, Ana and Diana,
wanted to inject “something out of the ordinary” into the Canberra
Though the family has its roots in Croatia, the girls are born and
bred Canberrans with a passion for fashion. Big sister Marijana
manages the administrative side of the business while Ana and
the baby of the trio, Diana manage the daily running of the store.
“Although I’m no good with numbers, so I let Ana handle all the
accounts,” Diana giggles.
“We each have our strengths. I prefer the creative side of
Ana adds; “Though we’re all in our thirties now, Marijana is still
very much the big sister and that’ll never change... It doesn’t
matter how old you get, that sibling hierarchy remains, and you
still fall into that sister role.”
According to Ana, itrip iskip was borne out of frustration.
“We were always travelling to Sydney or Melbourne to
buy clothes and look for something new and
different,” she says.
“There were no independent boutiques in
Canberra. Even today we get asked all the time
if we have a store in Sydney or Melbourne – but
we like that we’re really Canberra based. It’s really
gratifying when people say this shop belongs
in Sydney or Melbourne and we can say ‘no it
All three girls started their foray into the world
of retail working at Stocks, Canberra’s then
institution for fashion, where they got a taste for
‘buying’. The girls had a savvy for the business,
but buying for their own store was less easy.
“We had a bit of scepticism at the beginning, especially from
suppliers in Sydney,” Diana says.
“You really had to prove yourself. They’d be like: ‘So who are
you? Where are you from? What labels do you carry?’ It was
For single mum Ana, who had sunk all her money into the
project, failure was not an option. Plus, she adds; “The good
thing about the Croatian part of our background is that we have
strong personalities, and we don’t give up.”
Fast forward four years and itrip is now dressing Canberra’s ‘it’
crowd – some of which are also their suppliers with whom the
girls foster close relationships.
“We’re pretty lucky because we have friends who are designers
and artists and musicians,” Diana says. To her, networking is as
much a part of the dizzy social life she adores, as it is for her
business – evident in her connections with just about every
promising designer, artist and musician in town.
As a result, the striking jungle mural on the shop’s back wall was
painted by upcoming local artist Lisa Twomey, who also joins the
ranks of local designers featured instore such as Luke Chiswell
(Luuk), Sara Wurcker (Hunter), Amelia Thompson (Grazed Youth)
and Amelia Huang (Millicent Russell). Over the years itrip has
been a Petri dish for creative youth culture. Their ‘grass stains’
networking events invite a crossover of different disciplines under
the same roof.
“A lot of Canberra’s designers and artists are moving away,
because there’s nowhere for them to actually display their work,”
“In creative circles, networking is really important... we do work
really closely with those local talents, because they’re our future
really. We’re trying to set something up in Canberra so that we’re
not losing them to other cities.”
As a hub for their clientele, the Braddon nook is ever-changing
and the Derek sisters are always updating the fitout to capture
them time and again. The ubiquitous red piano that moves
around the store once induced tears.
“I had an elderly lady come in and cry over it,” Diana says.
“She said she was 90 and her whole life, she had wanted to
see a coloured piano – she was so happy.”
For the time being, with its tree stump displays, synthetic grass
and quirky, random décor, stepping into itrip is like stepping
through the looking glass.
“It’s all in keeping with our philosophy on
shopping,” Diana says.
“We didn’t want the place to be sterile. At
the end of the day, you want shopping to
be an escape. We’re looking to dress real
individuals – you know, creative people. We do
stock some ‘plain stuff’, but even then it’s for
someone who’s going to take that piece and
mix it with something and be a real individual.”
This same philosophy will go into choosing
the clothing for Lellow – Braddon’s new hub
for fashionable bubs on Londsdale Street.
Opened just across the street from itrip iskip,
the store is Diana’s baby who, having conquered one scene
with her sisters, has turned her attention to tackling the gap in
boutique-style shopping for kids in Canberra.
“My sisters both have kids, so I guess that’s how the idea came
to my attention,” she says.
“The name Lellow comes from all my nieces and nephews and
the kids I can remember pronouncing ‘yellow’ that way.”
Right now the store stocks only designers from Melbourne and
Sydney, but Diana is keen to work itrip’s premise of local love into
the equation and has put the call out for any Canberra designers
who wish to showcase their work in the store.
“Lellow has the same community focus as itrip,” she says.
Lellow’s answer to itrip’s ‘grass stains’ events will be a bi-monthly
‘story time’ with themes, followed by arts and craft. The next
story time will be held on Saturday, December 11.
“I want Lellow to be a place not just for creative mums and
dads who want something imaginative and different to dress their
kids in, but also a place for them to hang out, socialise, network
and feel at home, Diana says.”
As Canberra’s answer
to the Kardashians,
Derek sisters have
lifted the face of Civic
fashion and beguiled
the creative class.
BY DIONE VAN-HEER
people say this
in Sydney or
we can say ‘no it
Diana’s new hub for fashionable
bubs in Braddon, Lellow.
Photo: Rohan Thomson
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