Style Insiders

Life is sunny for Augustine founder Kelly Coe

Article by Fashion Quarterly

Kelly Coe

Designer Kelly Coe is a campaigner for colour, sparkle, prints and chiffon – no matter the occasion

Augustine founder Kelly Coe admits to living in a bit more colour than most. “I believe you should always wear colour. I believe you should always dress up, and I believe that saving your ‘nice’ tops and dresses for a special occasion is a waste of time,” she says.

It has been eight years since the soon-to-be mother of three launched her lively label in New Zealand. Now with 70 stockists around the country, Augustine has gained a following nationwide, and the 113,000-plus followers on the brand’s Facebook page prove it.

Kelly admits it has been a long, but organic process growing her social media presence, but believes it’s the personal touches and styling tips she gives her customers that keep them so engaged.

“I had this vision right from the start that spoke to a lot of different women, and to do it through social media,” says Kelly, who posts daily on Facebook, showing how she styles her look for different occasions – from date nights and special events to daycare drop-offs.

The kimono-design is a signature piece for Augustine, which Kelly likes to pair with cut-off denim shorts and swimwear in summer and with skinny jeans and boots in winter. But whatever the occasion, the designer insists you should never take your outfit too seriously.

One of the most rewarding parts of interacting directly with her customers is seeing their passion for new-season pieces, says Kelly. “I’ve heard on many occasions that women put the kids to bed early on pre-order day so that they are ready by their computers come launch time,” shares Kelly. “It makes me so happy to see the excitement and enthusiasm.”

In 2013, Kelly saw a gap in the market for “pretty but practical” pieces that could be worn on weekends, after work and on “mummy duty”. There were plenty of options in black, white and beige, but nothing with the colour punch synonymous with Augustine. With that in mind, she launched Charlo – a vivacious line offering daily wardrobe essentials in a rainbow of colours, at a great price point.

“Charlo began after I had my girls,” she explains. “It took until then to understand what mothers and busy women want to wear.”

Just in time for winter, Kelly is launching Stella Royal for sizes 16-plus. “If you are a sassy 35-year-old woman who wants to wear colour, sparkle and pretty prints and you are a size 18, your options are so limited.”

With another baby on the way, Kelly is sharing her baby-bump styling tips online and how to look and feel confident, regardless of size. “I am an everyday mum who lives in the ‘burbs and that’s what the majority of my customers are,” she says. “They get me and I get them, simply because I am one of them.”

Photos: Carmen Bird Photography