top of page

Humans of 2204 - Ruby Raisin

If you’re an Inner West local with a love for ethical, colourful fashion, you can’t go past Ruby Raisin.

We were lucky enough to catch up with the creative and driven mind behind the brand, Mia Penn.

How would you describe Ruby Raisin?

“Ruby Raisin is a slow fashion brand where everything is handmade ethically and locally as one-of-a-kinds and short, limited edition runs. I make everything in my Dulwich Hill studio or with professional makers in Marrickville, who are also sole traders and small businesses.”

“The style is relaxed but polished with an emphasis on great fits and comfort, so whether you’re having a day at home, with kids, at work or out having fun, it’s easy to throw on a Ruby Raisin piece and feel great.”

Where do you draw your inspiration from when coming up with your designs?

“The designs usually derive from something I want to wear myself…and what I observe in my friendships, customers, and culture generally. Sometimes a movie or a woman I admire will inspire me, even if it’s just a feeling or small detail.”

“The forms are simple and more traditional in the sense that I want unfussy shapes that let the fun prints or colours shine. Some of my dresses are a take on vintage ideas like a classic ‘fit n flare’ style but less cinched with more modern construction and detailing, so they never feel like a fancy dress/reproduction but something new and more practical for daily life.”

“One of my best sellers is a jumpsuit because so many are such a bad fit! Sometimes, things are born from a design challenge I set for myself. My customers love my jumpsuits, and I haven’t stopped making them since.”

Who are your designs for?

“I’m designing for a woman for everyday life. I want my things enjoyed, never just saved for special occasions. The aim is to make a woman feel good about herself, so she can get on with her day, feeling comfortable and confident.”

“I love it when women tell me they chose my garments for a job interview or a special presentation, and the highest praise is the personal notes I’ve received after someone has worn something to a funeral - that they felt safe and comforted by their outfit that day - sounds sombre - but I mostly want people to live life and have fun in my pieces! But in those challenging moments, what’s better than dressing for yourself and feeling good in yourself?”

Your website states that you use vintage and new fabrics to make your designs. Where do you source your fabrics from? Is this to be more sustainable?

All the prints are vintage fabric, so they can be pretty, elegant, bright, graphic, and everything in between. I also use new fabrics - all-natural fibres for the block-coloured pieces, which range from soft to bold to classic tones.

My love of vintage fabric started as a child, influenced by my mum, who’s always been a collector and my dad, who’s always been a creative. I enjoy the creative challenge of using what’s around me first; finding a small piece of something special is more difficult and exciting than buying new off the roll. But of course, environmentally, that means respecting existing resources and giving them a new life. For example, I repurpose a lot of old bedding, some still in the original packets! They are of amazing quality, and the colours and patterns always evoke so much nostalgia. So, I guess it’s a blend of aesthetics and ethos.

How did you get into designing? And what made you make the leap into starting your own clothing business?

I realised that I’ve always been a maker in some way; I was always really into art and craft growing up. But I didn’t study fashion or design; I’m self-taught, and my business grew organically. I started selling out of interest from friends and for an income while my kids were little. Firstly, with kids wear, then women’s and men’s, a label called “the Raisin did it”. Then I consolidated to womenswear only and became “Ruby Raisin”. My mum taught me to sew, and I worked in retail and for a couple of small designers ages ago and kept developing my skill set and relationships to expand local production.

What is it like being a local business in Marrickville? Do you feel supported by the community?

I feel very supported by the community; I’m very grateful that my business survived and even thrived during covid when so many didn’t. People love to know they are supporting small businesses, and I always remind them that buying from me has a trickle-on effect to everyone else in my supply chain and working relationships, the majority of which are in Marrickville. Everything from cutting, sewing, and ironing to designing or printing a postcard happens in the inner west.

Those jobs, skills, incomes, and relationships get nurtured and sustained right here. I am surrounded by an incredible network of fellow makers with whom we share the highs and lows together - beautiful family and friends who pitch in to support me in any and every way and a really committed customer base who have been wearing my work for years and years. The Ruby Raisin studio boutique is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 438 New Canterbury Rd Dulwich Hill. By appointment outside those times.

The website is always open!

Facebook: Ruby Raisin

Instagram: @ruby_raisin_


bottom of page