‘Determined’ may not be the first word that comes to mind when trying to describe Sarah – ‘kind’, ‘happy’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘fun’ all seem the obvious choices, but ‘determined’ certainly warrants mention too. After being diagnosed with melanoma, Sarah’s love, positivity and determination propelled her over the major health hurdle; and then through 2 years of planning, sourcing and product development for the foundation of her business, Sarah J Curtis.
Not only are we huge fans of Sarah herself, we are also long-time lovers of the classic styles and quirky details that are highlighted throughout the collections. With names like ‘Take Me Anywhere’ and ‘Summer Vacations’, Sarah’s collection of panamas, headwear and accessories elicit a strong sense of wanderlust, bringing to mind images of sandy beaches, long lunches and languid strolls on hazy afternoons. Although we may be staying closer to home this summer, one of Sarah’s hats won’t be far from reach.
We caught up with Sarah on a sparkling Sydney morning to discuss her label, her passion for sun-safe skincare and the gratitude she has for everyday.
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Happy, Colourful, Homebody, Ocean-enthusiast, Hardworking
You are the founder of SARAH J CURTIS, our go-to for classic panamas, statement headwear and summer accessories. Tell us, what is the inspiration behind your label and how did you get started?
After being diagnosed with melanoma whilst pregnant with Rupert, my middle child, it was my mission to find a wide brim hat that went with everything and was timeless and classic. After searching far and wide the only hat I really loved and admired on others was the Panama hat but traditionally they are only woven with a 7cm brim. I then went on a mission in search of an Artisan that could custom weave one with a 10-12 cm brim for maximum sun protection. it was a good 12 month search to finally find someone I could trust. Then the search was on to find a bank that would actually transfer money into a South American bank account!
Finally, but with no insurance and with a partner that thought I was stupid, I was able to order my hat, then hats for friends, then for Zimmermann, which was my first ever wholesale account. It was amazing to see them is such a swanky store first time around!
We are in love with your newest collection! What is your foremost thought when developing a new range?
Classic styles that are smart, high end and versatile and of course have our custom woven extra wide brim for maximum sun protection.
As the discourse around social and environmental sustainability gains much needed momentum, how do you ensure your footprint is as light as possible?
My hats are backed by the UN as being 100% sustainable and ethical. They are all woven by Artisans living in the many many villages in the Andes of Ecuador. Each village specialises in a specific type of weave and will specialise in a unique style/design of weave too. Many of these communities don’t have electricity so I can honestly say little to no power, electricity or fossil fuels are even used to make them. They rely on the natural elements such as sunshine, vegetable dye and steam from boiling water to finish off the hats.
You have a busy schedule running your business and raising 3 sweet and clever children – how do you carve out ”me time” and what do you do with it?
My hats are my escape, my independence and my creative outlet. They contribute to my positive - happy mental health/state of mind if that makes sense. I'm a better mother, partner and person for having them and my small business in my life. I’m so grateful everyday for this - and it’s so rewarding to see them walking down the street on strangers!
What’s your best-kept local holiday destination secret?
Noosa! I just love that beach, water and national park.
How would you describe your personal style?
I love colour - it makes me feel happy!
Who are your style icons?
Oh gosh... I don’t really have any! I don’t like to be influenced by people with my style, so I’m not the biggest fan of influencers and seeing the same trends everywhere. But if I had to include one I think Sophia Loren 🌟 just because she is naturally beautiful and has her own individual style and presence.
What are you most passionate about?
Hats, swimming, my family and hot yoga! All four keep me sane and happy!
And our signature question: if you were a shoe, what style would you be?
A pretty coloured, pointed toe kitten heel with an oversized bow at the front! Quirky and ready to have fun! Definitely not a croc!
Sarah wears the Tina Ballet Flat in Red Patent