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Meet Hello Sisi, the Melbourne label making bags out of glitter and nostalgia

IMAGES VIA HELLO SISI

WORDS BY Amanda Gunn

“I have always tried to design things that make me feel happy.”

Sienna Ludbey first started making bags as an after-work hobby of sorts. After her shifts, she’d sit at her kitchen table and craft bags out of lolly papers and discarded shoe boxes – whatever she could find around her house. She’s always had a love of, in her own words, “cute things” and started making bags for no other reason than that it made her happy.

But after a fateful visit to Melbourne vintage store Coco (the store’s owner loved Sienna’s bag so much she asked her to make a range for her to stock) her past-time became something a little more serious, and Hello Sisi was born.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


Soon enough, you couldn’t go to an art opening or night out in Melbourne’s inner-north without seeing her glittery, PVC bags hanging nonchalantly off people’s arms, their smiley face keyrings swinging to and fro. Her designs are cutesy in a way that evokes childhood nostalgia, featuring cartoon characters like the Powerpuff Girls, bright floral patterns and sparkly gems, but their collage-like construction gives them a one-of-a-kind aesthetic. 

Since she first started out in 2019, demand for her designs has increased dramatically – she regularly sells out of styles and by her own admission is desperately in need of an assistant – but she still makes everything by hand. 

Now working out of a shared studio with Melbourne labels Sister Studios and Kannava Jewels, it’s the care and thought that goes into each Hello Sisi design that makes them such prized possessions. I stole a moment of Sisi’s time to find out more about how the label started, her design process and whether a Hello Sisi clothing line might be gracing our Instagram feeds one day in the near future.

 

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Hey Sienna! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you started Hello Sisi?

I’m Sisi, I grew up in Melbourne and love cute things. My name is Sienna nickname Sisi and I love Hello Kitty so much so I decided on Hello Sisi. I started Hello Sisi in 2019. I was working at a cafe and I would come home and make bags with things I found around the house such as lolly wrappers and old shoe boxes. I still use the first pattern piece I made every day, and it’s from an old Nike box. I walked into a store called Coco, it was on Brunswick Street and now it’s online. Ellie who runs Coco asked where I got my bag from and then the next week she started selling them in-store. That’s how Hello Sisi started. 

Your accessories feature nostalgic, colourful and glittery designs. What is the inspiration behind them? 

I have always loved cute things. I can’t even leave the supermarket without considering buying one of the little stuffed animals just because I don’t want to leave them behind. With Hello Sisi I started making the bags for myself and I have always tried to design things that make me feel happy. This is where all the cartoons, glitter and nostalgic imagery comes into it. 

 

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Tell me about one of your favourite bags that you have made. 

My favourite bag that I’ve made is one of my new ones. It’s a brand new style I’ll be launching at the end of this month in three different digital prints. I’ve wanted to create something new for ages but haven’t had the time. I think this new shape is really fun as it’s small enough for a night out but can also double as a uni bag as its fits a laptop etc. Cute and practical!

I heard that you make a sample of every bag design. What do you do with these? 

I have a little box in my studio that has the sample from each shape I have made. It’s really nice to look back on how far they have come. I love them all, even the first ones where the stitching is very, very questionable.

Where do you source all the materials that you use? 

Everywhere! My favourite thing to do at night is make a green tea and get into a fabric spiral on the internet. Some people YouTube spiral, I fabric spiral. I love to look at lots of websites from Japan and Korea. Etsy is one of my fave spots for vintage bows, trims and cartoon fabrics. 

You currently make all the bags yourself, but as your brand continues to grow do you think this is something that will have to change? 

Yes, for sure! At the moment I’m working seven days a week and feel like I’m always behind. I think it’s time to bring on some help if I want Hello Sisi to keep growing. Hello Sisi is my baby so it’s hard to let go and step back but I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I need some help making everything. It will also be so nice to grow my team and share the exciting times. 

 

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You primarily focus on accessories, but you have a cute tee currently available as well. In the future are we going to see more Hello Sisi clothing? 

I have always wanted to do clothing – it’s something that’s in the works for this year. It really just comes back to lack of time. But this year yes, fingers crossed, I will be able to put out a couple of pieces. They will still have the Sisi cute aesthetic. 

What have you learnt about the industry from sharing a studio with Sister Studios and Kannava Jewels?

I started sharing a studio with Emma and Alice (Sister Studios) and Ruby (Kannava Jewels) in 2019 and it’s been the best. We have a really gorgeous space above Melbourne Artist Supplies in Brunswick. I have learnt so, so much. I think one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt is to share information. If you have an amazing supplier or tip, share it with your fellow creatives. Sometimes it can be really daunting reaching out to others for help or information, so I think it’s always good to be transparent, share and support one another. 

With stockists worldwide, how does it make you feel seeing your bags appreciated internationally? 

It really makes my heart smile, I feel so lucky. I am just so grateful that my bags bring people joy and make them feel happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted is to share my love for cute things with others.  

What’s next for Hello Sisi? 

Lots! I am so excited for the next chapter of Hello Sisi! New bags are the next step. They will be launching in three weeks, so stay tuned. 

Want to see Hello Sisi’s bags for yourself? Check out its Instagram or browse the range here

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