Flattery will get you everywhere

Big Sistah3The Big Sistah Little Sistah range was born out of frustration, as Nicola has big shoulders and couldn’t find beautiful clothes that flattered her shape. Since she was a teenager in design college, she has made her own clothes, but it was only after she kept being stopped in the street and asked where she got them from that she realised there was an opportunity.

She decided to develop a range of clothing designed specifically with real women in mind, celebrating all shapes and sizes. She produced an initial range based on a template she had used for many years on her own clothing and after success at the Eumundi Markets on the Sunshine Coast, she finalised her own unique blocks and sizing range, specifically reflecting the way in which a woman’s body increases in size.

Her entire range is designed and manufactured in Australia using natural fabrics such as cottons and linens. To keep her designs unique, she doesn’t use commercial fabric prints, instead embellishing using screen printing, hand painting and adding texture, giving each design a unique character.

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The main secret to Big Sistah Little Sistah clothing is the sizing. Nicola has developed a sizing system that is distinct from the standard 8-26. Her blocks are made to fit the bust area, just skim the hips and stomach and camouflage any lumps and bumps along the way. Extensive market research has seen her develop these blocks so that they are graded to reflect a true woman – focusing on actual size measurements rather than a number.

Within the Spring range will be a design that is very important to Nicola, a flowery top & tunic in a particular shade of pink to support the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). A survivor of two bouts of this horrible disease herself, Nicola is delighted to donate $10 for every garment sold from this range.

Coming back to the Handmade Market is a joy for Nicola who loves Canberra. She loves the fact that customers come from everywhere and plan their shopping in advance, all of them on board with her sizing. And what’s the best thing about Canberra? “Shopping and eating in the city centre,” says Nicola. “We wander around the shops and choose a different restaurant or café each time we visit. This time we will be going to Floriade on Friday. In March we went hot air balloon spotting before the markets. We LOVE Canberra, the markets and visiting the city.”

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Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Handmade Style, the newsletter and the online magazine. When she's not hanging out with the lovely Handmade team, she runs Callie & Co Design, a Canberra graphic design studio that crafts brands for small businesses. Her favourite things about Canberra are the seasons (especially Autumn), the big sky, the coffee and the great events.


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