Baz Inc has become a much-loved fashion hotspot on Potts Point’s main strip.
I spoke to Baz and found out how this luxe brand started and what Sydney-based fashion designer Baz loves about living locally.
Thanks for talking to me, Baz! Is there a story behind your name?
It’s an affectionate nickname from school – I had red hair at school and people used to tease me about a likeness to Basil Brush and eventually it was shortened to Baz. It just stuck! My real name is Carolyn but not many people call me that.
Let’s talk about Baz Inc – it really is a magnet for stylish women from everywhere. I know my wife is completely addicted. How did the brand start?
I started about eight years ago with a swimwear range for girls and women. I wanted something a bit more fashionable in protective swimwear for my daughter, who’s now all grown up. Back then, there really weren’t a lot of really nice rash vets and things like that so I started with an all-Australian-made range. From that, everyone wanted a cover-up to go over the swimwear so I made one dress and that dress was called the BazTan.
Ah, your signature dress!
It was! It’s one of those pieces you can wear off the shoulder, on the shoulder, tied up as a top – and it was one size and fitted everyone. I did all types of fabrics and silks, prints, plain. And I offered it in three lengths. The same dress could look completely different on different people so it was really quite a unique piece and it was really popular. I still bring it back for some seasons but my collection has grown and developed since then.
Are you a trained fashion designer or self-taught?
I’m self-taught. I’ve had lots of retail therapy over the years and often I couldn’t find what I like to wear. With maturity, I hope I know enough to know what women really like to wear and feel great in. My motto is really ‘effortless elegance’ – I think it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, but you should feel elegant and you should feel good about yourself. And the clothes you choose really do set the scene for your day.
Was it a learning curve, from designing a collection to actually having a shop front?
Yes – I pretty much learned everything on the job! My clothes are all made here in Australia, I design everything and I have pattern makers and two production teams who do all my production here in Sydney. I’m very hands-on – and everything is made with a lot of attention to detail.
You’ve said before that many women have championed your brand from the start and helped grow your reputation?
Yes. So many fantastic women have come into my life since starting the business, all from all different walks of life but fairly successful women in their own right. I’ve had advice and help and support for every aspect of the business – banking, legal, retail. And women in the magazine world have really supported the brand, like Jackie Frank, formerly from Marie Claire, ex-Vogue editor Kirsty Clements and Mia Freedman has been a great supporter of me too. That’s all helped my business along.
What part of the clothing design process do you love the most?
I love choosing the fabric. And I really like that I can have a hands-on approach with my customers.
Do you design for the seasons or all year round?
All year round but I have two seasons in mind, summer and winter, and then there’s always little injections of new pieces coming through the whole time. I don’t like completely conservative clothing. Every piece I design has to have a little piece of something different on them. That might be an unusual trim or fringe or color pop. It might be a little stripe down the side. Those kinds of touches. Also, nothing I do is mass-produced so I don’t do big numbers of anything. I sometimes also do a limited run with a specific fabric, so there’s not hundreds of the one-piece being worn by lots and lots of women. I think we all want the same thing at the end of the day. We all want to be wearing clothes we feel good in, that are made from nice fabrics and are flattering. Clothes that give us the edge wherever we might be going. That’s how I want my customers to feel.
How long have you had the shop in Potts Point?
Since early 2019. I’ve had pop-up shops before but this is my first permanent space and there is quite a lot of passing trade. I have local customers but also tourists coming in, and people come from all over because Potts Point is a bit of a destination – it has shopping but also great bars and restaurants. I just love Potts Point. It’s the most beautiful village to run a business and live in. I think it’s actually a very unique place to be based.
How long have you lived in Potts Point and do you have any favourite haunts?
I’ve lived here for six years and I have so many favourites. I’m not sure I should give them up! I love the new gin bar, Kings Cross Distillery and Lotus on Challis. Apollo is beautiful for food and The Rex is great. Joseph Hyde is a great coffee spot and I love Llankelly Lane, with all its little places to eat and drink. My favourite retailer is Macleay on Manning – it’s a one-stop-shop. They’ve also been great to me during COVID. It’s been a real test for everyone here but the support all the retailers give each other is quite extraordinary. I don’t think that happens everywhere.
I know you have a dog – is there anywhere, in particular, you like to go for walks?
I love Beare Park in Elizabeth Bay. It’s a little oasis down there – just so quiet and lovely for a walk. But just walking around Potts Point is beautiful, even if you’re not going shopping – it has gorgeous architecture, good people watching and there’s just a really lovely vibe to the whole area.
What are you looking forward to for 2021?
I hope COVID is gone! I think it’ll be a really different year and I just want to keep designing great clothes and making my customers happy. Onwards and upwards!
Thanks, Baz – you can visit Baz Inc at 87B Macleay Street Potts Point or online.
Photo credit: Baz Instagram page