Style Counsel: Home Away From Home
Have you ever wondered how the great fashion designers and labels got started? John Caruso finds out what inspired Boom Shankar founder and designer Dui Cameron to take her designs from a humble market stall to a successful global business.
It’s the 1990s and Dui mans her stall in a crowded and noisy market in Goa, India. Luck is on her side as she has tapped into a trend, making tops crafted from second-hand saris to sell to European tourists. Over the seven years Dui worked at the markets, she would come to sell thousands of the pretty, vibrant tops without knowing this was the start of the highly successful Boom Shankar as we know it today.
Fast forward to 2019 and Boom Shankar is one of Noosa’s best examples of how to take a locally-based business and share it with the world. Many aspiring designers and entrepreneurs would love to know the secret to Dui’s success but, as she says, it all comes down to a little bit of luck, a bit of fate and employing the right people.
“I am not good at business. I’ve got no management skills whatsoever,” Dui says. “I only can design. I’ve had managers for years and I would be lost without employees.”
Even at the age of 16 when Dui first started selling her designs, she was clever enough to realise sewing wasn’t her strong point and employed others to stitch together her designs.
“I’m actually just a travelling hippie who wants to get back to those roots,” she says. “I can’t use a computer. I only just learned how to internet bank last week. In India, I work with a master tailor, creating a pattern, chopping and changing and sitting with them. Sitting with sample makers. That’s always been the way I’ve done it.”
Dui returned to Australia to sell her sari tops at the Eumundi Markets and, when other designers began to create similar designs, she moved onto another style showing how important it is to be responsive to trends and change.
“I moved away from saris as others started to make them. So, I thought ‘ok, what’s next’ and I went into printing my own fabrics,” Dui recalls.
“I was into collecting vintage fabrics at this time so I would do an op-shop run from Queensland to Victoria along all the country roads. Once I was stocked up, I would reprint (the patterns) and make garments using those designs.”
For Dui, she has always had a love for fashion and a passion for playing dress-ups and this now guides the growth and vibe of Boom Shankar with fashion lovers invited to “play dress-up” at her Noosaville showroom.
“I’ve always had my own taste in fashion and I’ve always dressed myself. From a young age, I would dress myself and it would always be colourful like a tutu, rainbow socks and probably topless,” Dui recalls.
“For me, this is all about playing dress-up and that’s something I have always loved since I was little. I love doing it with other people as well… Some people are a bit shy to mix and match stuff, but I love it. The more contrasting the better. I think it’s fun.”
For this humble business owner and fashion designer, she’s happy to let her talented team do the hard work of growing and developing her business as she dreams of days spent adding colour to the world around her.
“Boom Shankar isn’t only about fashion. It’s a platform to educate and help people. When you get to this level, you can do a lot of things,” Dui says. “I would love to step back a bit and do more projects that help the community, make the world a happy and more colourful place.”