Australia was late to bed with Homebodii – the Gold Coast leisurewear brand that’s had American fashpackers (we’re talking Taylor Swift and Alessandra Ambrosio) draped in its signature sleepwear and robes for the better part of its five-year life. But as her designs finally grace the racks of goliath Aussie department store David Jones, Homebodii founder Ingrid Bonner will tell you it pays to be patient.
“We were originally approached by David Jones three years ago and at that time the deal fell through,” she says. “I believe sometimes the setbacks become your greatest motivation. We went back to the drawing board and really worked on what customers wanted and perfected our designs and fit. In business, it’s a slow burn: long days, a lot of determination, and good old hard work. Not being afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.”
Having spent the majority of her childhood in a leotard at her mother’s ballet school, Ingrid studied marketing before working as a model. The idea for Homebodii hit her while she was pregnant with her second child, struggling to find something to wear during her looming hospital stay, and she officially launched – on her own savings, with zero experience – just shy of turning 30. “At the time, I had two small children and life was already very busy,” she says. “I still remember the day when I walked into our local fabric store asking for the softest cotton they had available. I was so green when I embarked on the journey, but ever so enthusiastic and eager to learn everything from the ground up. If you have the passion and dedication, everything else can be learnt.”
Her designs were swiftly snapped up by major US e-tailors Anthropologie, The Iconic and Revolve Clothing – the LA-based online retailer rumoured to be worth a cool billion that approached Ingrid early on. “They loved our collections and its uniqueness, and they really got behind us as a brand. We then started noticing our designs popping up on celebrities in the US, and growth was very organic from then on. We recently returned from Coachella and spent a lot of time with the Revolve team. They are very encouraging and accepting of Australian designers.”
Having launched Homebodii’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection at 2016’s New York Fashion Week and recently returned from the Revolve Festival at Coachella, Ingrid is now honing in on home turf – and she’s wrangled Australian Bachelorette-in-waiting Sophie Monk to help her crack it. “After almost two decades in the media, she has remained true to herself and managed to keep a level of confidence which would be incredibly hard in today’s world of online bullying and trolling,” says Ingrid of Sophie, adding that the model and former pop star is an advocate for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, dedicated to children’s safety.
As David Jones’ first brand to offer in-house personalisation of garments, Homebodii has a curve range and maternity collection set to drop soon, and is brewing a collab with a US-based personality (hush hush, for now). “We are not influenced by trends and try to stay true to our feminine aesthetic,” says Ingrid, who credits her brand’s success to going rogue. “We try to beat to our own drum. Our brand ethos is to always be boutique, authentic and customer-focused. We create our prints from scratch and don’t try to conform to what a fashion label is supposed to be.”