Mixing business with babies

At home with working mum Georgina Austin of Cable Melbourne

Baby Talk

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For Georgina Austin, childrenswear just made sense. After founding her own successful brand built on quality, luxury knitwear back in 2007 and starting a family along the way, the natural evolution was to think mini. Knowing exactly what wasn’t out there already, she set about creating Cable Baby, a line of nurturing pure Australian superfine Merino wool garments for girls and boys between 0-24 months. Now, as she juggles a home, two children and a demanding career, she has big plans for the new product line, if she can just find the time.

Georgina and daughter Heidi in the yard of their Melbourne home.
Photo: Shannon Pawsey

“I can tell you there was a big clean up done before the shoot,” laughs Georgina Austin at the suggestion she has a picture-perfect home. “There were bikes, toys and boxes everywhere! But we’re not too precious about that.”

The house the Cable Melbourne designer shares with her husband Will, and two children Harry, 3 and Heidi, 20 months, although immaculate, feels pleasantly lived-in. Big, colourful graphic artworks nod to its owners’ creative streaks (Georgina trained in graphic design, her husband is Creative Director of menswear brand Gazman) while children’s paintings and soft furnishings give it warmth. “You have to have an environment where the children feel comfortable and don’t feel like they can’t jump on the couch if they want. We’re pretty relaxed about that.”

It’s this easy-going ethos that also defines her new boutique collection of Merino wool baby knitwear, a few pieces of which Heidi is currently happily cosied up in. “I felt it was just ridiculous how many layers you’ve got to put on them in the winter, when you’re wanting to go out,” says Georgina, who started the Australian-made line out of frustration with the lack of 100 per cent woollen garments available for children. “Merino wool is fully machine-washable, breathable, they don’t get allergies to it, it’s soft on their skin, easy to look after, and it’s warm. I just love the fact that I can just put them in little woollen leggings, a top and a jumper and go.”

Photo: Harry and Heidi play together on Georgina’s bed

Georgina’s passion for working with wool isn’t a recent phenomenon. Her brand has utilised the fibre since day one, and today 90 per cent of this winter’s Woolmark-certified women’s collection can be attributed to Australian Merino, using yarn spun in Italy. Her great, great grandfather was the founder of Thomas S Beaumont & Sons, a leading buyer of Australian superfine Merino wool, kicking off four generations of wool buyers. You could say it’s in her blood.

Fashion design, however, wasn’t always her path. Georgina started out with a graphic and textile design stint at Country Road before she found herself landing a role as head designer for high-end boutique label Nicholson. Her label Cable started with about ten styles eight years ago and soon she was opening a store in Armadale selling knitted dresses, sweaters, vest and wraps that still largely work off the same quality, formula today. “We change the design of the pattern, the stitching, we experiment with different yarns and shapes, but the womenswear is very classic with a modern twist. They’re timeless pieces.”

The Cable Baby Leaf Jumper (at back) and Cable Baby Block Jumper.
Photo: Shannon Pawsey

You could say Georgina designs with her own style in mind. “I love following trends but I’m very aware of what would suit me and what wouldn’t,” she says. Her daily uniform usually consists of an ankle boot, pair of jeans, a knit and a leather jacket. Easy-to-throw on pieces that can cross from showroom to school pick-up. “I’m certainly not one of those mothers that stops wearing white pants because I’ve got children now. I’m not that practical, but I certainly don’t wear stilettos to work everyday.”

As for daughter Heidi, it’s the baby leaf jumper in cloud pink that’s a favourite. It’s the kind of piece you can imagine eventually being stored away or passed on to a family member or friend. “It’s certainly not a disposable purchase,” says Georgina. “Wool is probably one of the most sustainable fibres out there. That’s the beautiful thing about it. A lot of people see the value in it, because there’s a lot disposable fashion out there and I think we are becoming a lot more aware of that.”

Georgina’s son Harry exercising some pedal power. Photo: Shannon Pawsey

Cable Melbourne is unquestionably a long-term commitment for Georgina. She plans on introducing bigger sizes to next winter’s Cable Baby collection, and although the Cable Melbourne website currently sells internationally, a focus on export to Europe and the United States is on the cards. And then, there’s family time. “Being in business it’s very hard sometimes to switch off,” explains Georgina. “But at the moment it’s working really well.”

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