FASHION STYLIST & BALINCOURT FOUNDER
Fashion stylist and Creative Director Cass Anderson works with established and upcoming fashion brands and creative agencies to produce and style imaginative online, print, advertising, e-commerce and editorial campaigns.
Cass was inspired by the local Byron Bay fashion community and its commitment to creating beautiful fashion in line with responsible and sustainable business practices.
Drawing on her knowledge of the fashion trade, Cass founded Balincourt - a luxury handbag label that is ethical and sustainable. Cass drew on her knowledge of the fashion trade to develop Balincourt - a label that will stand the test of time – without costing the planet.
Alongside managing Balincourt, Cass works as a freelance stylist with clients Australia wide.
DESCRIBE BALINCOURT AND HOW IT CONTRIBUTES TO THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION MOVEMENT?
All Balincourt bags use vegetable tanned leather, which is an ancient method, and has very minimal negative environmental impact. It consists of repeatedly soaking hides in natural tanning solutions of water, plant bark, leaves and roots. It usually takes a minimum of 30 to 60 days to finish and requires the patience and care of skilled craftsmen.
Currently the most popular method in the fashion industry is chrome tanning. A process which is usually achieved by placing hides into acidic baths, which in most cases means that the leather is no longer a natural product.
Vegetable tanned leather products become suppler to the touch with time and use. They won’t crack or dry out and have impressive ageing and longevity. It does take longer to produce, making for a slightly more expensive product, but this careful, handmade process adds to the richness, life span and exclusivity of vegetable tanned leather.
Our styles that are lined, use a soft natural linen and cotton blend which is strong and durable, and like our leather, biodegradable when it has ceased to be used. All Balincourt bags come to you wrapped in a breathable linen tote bag, perfect for storing your bag or for picking up the groceries in. All packaged up with recycled or recyclable materials.
AS A DESIGNER AN STYLIST, WHAT INSPIRES AND DRIVES YOU EVERY DAY?
I am really inspired by anyone that can create a successful business and am totally in awe of those who do it with integrity. Those who build a business with the best practices not only for their customers, but for the environment and the people involved at the forefront. Sustainability and fair trade aren’t just trends anymore, they are an absolute business must.
AS FOUNDER OF NEW LABEL BALINCOURT, TELL US THE STORY ABOUT ESTABLISHING THIS NEW SUSTAINABLE BRAND?
After working in corporate fashion at a high level I felt like I could use that invaluable experience and knowledge to try and create a business of my own that could then influence others to rethink the traditional model of a fashion brand. I wanted to create accessories for the right reasons - quality, sustainability and positive change became the core of the Balincourt brand. The local business community in Byron has been a big inspiration, there is such a commitment to creating beautiful fashion, food, and lifestyle products in a more considered way, with responsible and sustainable business practices and I really draw from that.
WHAT MADE YOU CHANGE DIRECTION AND ESTABLISH BALINCOURT?
7 years ago I read a book by Lucy Siegle - ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?’ Lucy gives a chilling exposé into the fashion industry and not only the human misery involved but also details the industry's devastating environmental toll. At the time I was climbing the corporate fashion ladder and the stories from this book really struck a chord and made me seriously question my involvement in the industry. It has stayed with me ever since and I have always vowed to make a difference when I could. Now feels like the right time to begin.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN STYLING?
I grew up in Tasmania and left for London when I was 20 to chase my travelling and fashion dreams! I took a fashion styling course in London at Central Saint Martins, then followed that up with a fashion business course in Sydney at FBI Fashion College. This opened me up to some really valuable work experience opportunities. I then took a position at Cue and worked my way up through PR and business roles, to become Head of Online Styling and Accessory Developer. Now I call Byron Bay home, style as a freelancer and run my online bag business Balincourt.
WHAT MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER REALLY MADE YOU FEEL PROUD?
There have been many milestones as my career has progressed and my skills have grown. Most recently the Australian Financial Review ran a feature on Balincourt in the Luxury Magazine. That morning when I picked up that magazine and opened it up to see one of my bags and the Balincourt story, was a very proud moment. 5 minutes later someone purchased a bag and that’s when I thought – people are getting this! On the styling side, one of my biggest moments was styling Olivia Newton-John, what a true great!
WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW IN THE INDUSTRY?
I am so excited by the work that Stella McCartney does with the innovation in the materials and fabrics she uses, her respect for nature and people and reducing her brands impact on the planet. There are so many layers to what the brand does, it is truly aspirational for me.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING, HOW DO YOU RELAX AND RECHARGE?
I love to push myself by running or doing the steep climb of the Byron Bay lighthouse to let out energy and clear the mind. I generally love to exercise whether it’s at the gym, walking the dog, riding our bikes, trying to surf! To recharge you can’t beat the easy living of Uluwatu in southern Bali.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY HEADING IN THE FUTURE?
I feel like there is going to be more change in the next few years than we have seen in a long time in the fashion industry. We are at a real tipping point with its impact on the planet – we all need to adopt ways to change production, manufacturing, retail, and intelligence systems and to change the buying habits of the consumer, and we need to do it urgently.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR EMERGING ARTISTS?
Create a product or brand that really means something to you and that can benefit the world. Then do it with love, loads of passion, work your butt off, and do it all with good intentions. And, if you just know that you are meant to do it, don't give up! When it feels like the road is blocked, come up with a creative way to open it up, you will surprise yourself at how strong and focused you can be.
BALINCOURT FOUNDER AND CASS ANDERSON STYLE
VISIT CASS ANDERSON STYLE