2005 – 2020
After 15 years of building Monk House Design into what it is today – owner and manager Roula Tzidras has decided (in her own words) ‘to put down the steamer and have a change’. This is both an exciting time, and also a somewhat melancholy moment for Australian independent fashion, as Monk House Design has been a solid – bricks and mortar store which has housed many local, interstate and international labels.
From its modest beginnings in 2005 Monk House Design always aimed to provide a curated selection of unique and beautiful pieces that have a sense of purpose and function in an individual’s life, against a backdrop of vintage wooden furniture and a large print familiar to all that passed through – created by Alison Weaver.
With a new logo – created by Kat Macleod and design studio Ortolan in 2010, Monk House Design launched their webstore in the same year and has never looked back.
In 2015 the first in house label collection was launched with the CBD store popping up in 2016 to serve the many south side devotees, as much as the tourist crowd that look for independent local fashion (of which Melbourne is renowned.)
Many a career has been launched by the unique approach owner and manager, Roula has to managing her staff - giving each staff member a sense of agency and generous dose of creative freedom with projects and trusting each individual to flex their creative muscles, whist also carrying the Monk House vision. Throughout each photoshoot, blog post or Instagram story there is a strong aesthetic which is built on clean lines, unexpected shapes and gorgeous design which is thoughtfully and artfully produced.
However, we can’t forget the wonderfully talented designers and makers which are our suppliers, labels such as Kuwaii and Dress Up were here from their beginnings. Hugely successful New Zealand labels such as Penny Sage and Kowtow. Jewellery and accessory designers with the likes of Adriana from POMS, Seb Brown, Bella Clark, Two Hills and iconic bag label WITU stocking their first collections here with us! Not to mention the countless labels that have stocked with Monk House over the years – who have moved on to greater things or cease to exist – the community is a vast, pulsing and forever changing melange of creative energy and exchange, and this is what makes it so rich and meaningful.
Reminiscing on the beginnings, and what is to come, below is a short Q &A with the one and only Roula Tzidras. A powerful individual that has been the heart and soul of the store and the creative community around her, always optimistic and positive in the face of any battle, a woman of few, but choice words. An inspiration to us all - she will be well and truly missed.
Q: How did Monk House start - what was the initial impetus for wanting to open a shop?
A: I was inspired by a small business I worked for, for a short time called Lupa where the owners were the 2 nicest women who had the most down-to-earth and lovely approach to business. I thought it would be amazing to work in a kind, mutually respectful environment without it being hippy or lacking in the attention to detail.
Such an iconic name now…but where did Monk House Design the name come from/ who or what was the inspiration behind this?
I had a clothing label in the 90’s called Monk House (standing for clothing - or shelter - for spiritual beings,) the ‘Design’ was added when I’d let the registration of the business name lapse and someone else nabbed it…
What is one thing that you're most proud of - with the success/es of Monk House Design?
I am most proud of the marketing part of the business, it has evolved quite organically, through collaboration with talented staff, who often had little training or experience (eg in photography, copy, styling etc), but were (are) prepared to work hard and produce good outcomes for all. These amazing women have helped create some beautiful content – and give smaller, emerging labels the confidence and opportunity to shine. All this was done in the spirit of enjoying the creative process and honing inherent talent.
How has the independent fashion landscape changed over the last 15 years - a pro/con?
There is more opportunity to put work ‘out there’ via social media etc but it’s often a solitary experience. There are fewer physical stores (and the mentorship they can offer) catering for emerging labels, but the quality and diversity of work has come a long way. Jewellery in particular is so good at the moment.
One last question…. what is next? Any creative projects in the works?
I’m looking forward to a nice long break with time to travel, learn to grow veggies and hang out with grandkids… then I’ll see what comes along.
Words by Gussie Vinall Richardson & layout design by Shelby De Fazio
Images featured from photographers - Madeleine Burke, Elise Wilken, Gina Diggle, Natalie Turnbull & Sam Wong