Meet the Makers... Graphic Designer Tess McCabe

Tess wears the Dada Mpendwa bomber ($260) in kijani shuka.

We would like to introduce you to the faces behind Our Collective – members of our family and our Kabila. We want you to get to know the amazing people we've partnered with to bring you the store we're so proud of. It's no easy feat and we couldn't do it without the wonderful community we work with behind the scenes. Today we're talking to multifaceted Melbourne-based graphic designer, author and publisher, Tess McCabe.

Follow Tess here and visit her website here.

Tess wears the Ikoni Blazer ($230) in black linen.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Observant, encouraging, overthinker!

Can you tell us a little about you and what you do?

I’m a creative all-rounder. By day I run my own graphic and web design business, and I love to work with small businesses that have great ideas and a lot of heart (like Collective Closets!). I also have a small publishing company/side project called Creative Minds dedicated to helping creatives and small business owners.

You can find my books — Conversations with Creative Women and Graphic Design Speak — at bookstores around Australia or online. My experience designing books means I get the privilege of collaborating with lots of interesting authors on their book covers and creative publishing projects. It’s pretty fun!

Tess wears the Yake Top ($180) in oatmeal linen and the Dada Mpendwa Reversible Bomber ($260) in kijani shuka.

Talk us through your creative process.

Every project and every client is unique, but I like to learn about the goals of the business and what motivates the founders to do what they do. Basically, I like to know their ‘why’ and to see the big picture, as it helps me to focus on the problem that needs solving.

Usually, the creative aspect of design comes easily after those conversations. If I’m ever stuck on a creative challenge or I feel like the ideas aren’t flowing, I step away and make a cup of tea. Tea solves everything. 

What challenges you as a creative?

Time, or rather, a lack of it! There are so many creative projects and ideas I want to pursue, but with a business and a young family and a desire to watch all the good TV and sleep in on the weekends, there never seems to be enough time.

So I’m selective about the projects I take on, and I try to ensure what I do work on is nourishing and in collaboration with nice people.

Tess wears the Yake Top ($180) in black linen.

What does fashion mean to you?

To me, fashion is about telling a visual story about your creative aesthetic, your values, your vision for the world, your human form (don’t call it ‘femininity’!), and your mood.

It’s also about feeling comfortable and courageous to take on whatever challenges arise (I’ve been known to change outfits if a day isn’t going to plan!). Fashion can do so much for a person’s inner and outer world and for me, every fashion decision is intentional.

Tess wears the Yake Top ($180) in black linen.

How would you describe your personal style?

Intentional, timeless, sustainable, and – because I ride a bike everywhere – practical! In the past 10 years, I’ve only bought pre-loved, vintage, or new pieces from businesses where I know that the owners and the business are being very conscious about the clothing that they make.

That can be difficult because there are a lot of beautiful things that I’d love to own and wear… but true sustainability is about making compromises and investing in long-term gems that fit well and are made well.