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IWD: Women in Business Doing BIG Things

Sitchu has featured some impressive women in local business over the past year, all of which are at the top of their game as creative directors and dynamic business owners. And so, to tie in with International Women’s Day, there couldn't be a better time to celebrate their entrepreneurial accolades. From fashion boutiques and sportswear brands to media agencies and beauty empires, we pay homage to these inspiring women as they work to leave an everlasting mark within their chosen industries. 

Deborah Symond O'Neil, founder and owner of Mode Sportif

Since launching MODESPORTIF.COM in 2014, business owner, fashion powerhouse and Sydney socialite, Deborah Symond O'Neil has elevated Mode Sportif to cult-status with the arrival of her Paddington concept store and Double Bay flagship boutique. Leading the Sydney fash-pack with a signature blend of luxe fashion and athleisure, Deborah has brought international labels like Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Kenzo to the local streets.

Learn more about Deborah Symond O'Neil and Mode Sportif's story here.

Lillian Khallouf

Known for her sophisticated, feminine fluid cuts and simple silhouettes, Lillian Khallouf’s beautifully chic bridalwear has gained popularity on the Sydney bridal scene. A firm fashion favourite, her eponymous label – which combines luxury bridal couture with gorgeously tailored Ready-to-Wear – has been featured in every major publication, from Vogue Australia to Harper’s Bazaar. 

Learn more about Lillian Khallouf and her eponymous label here.

montarna mcdonald, paddington
montarna mcdonald, paddington
Montarna Pitt, founder and director of The Audience Agency

Founder and Director of leading PR and communications firm The Audience Agency, Montarna Pitt means business in the world of food, drink, fashion and lifestyle. Having started her own firm at just 23, the now 28-year-old has a dazzling international client list of creative brands from all over the world. Entrepreneur, PR powerhouse and ‘It Squad’ style maven, this Sydney socialite knows how to hustle.

Learn more about Montarna Pitt and The Audience Agency here.

Loren and Kristie, co-founders of Commune Bondi

A treasure trove of natural, handmade homewares, Commune Bondi started as a passion project by two Bondi locals. Now one of the Eastern Suburb’s go-to stores, founders Loren and Kristie feature a swoon-worthy collection of unique products created by artisan designers from all over the world. Not just beautiful, each item that the team source's is sustainable, and ethically sourced, with its own distinctive story to tell. 

Learn more about the dynamic duo and their gorgeous Bondi store here.

pip edwards, bondi beach
pip edwards, bondi beach
Pip Edwards, co-founder of P.E. Nation

Alongside Claire Tregoning, Bondi Beach local, Pip Edwards, created the fashion brand P.E. Nation which is all things sporty, fashionable and comfortable. Originally inspired by women, like them, who juggle work life with motherhood, P.E. Nation has grown to be an international brand and have recently launched a menswear line.

Learn more about Pip Edwards and P.E. Nation’s story here.

Lana Hopkins, founder of Mon Purse

Lana established a business based on every women’s dream; to design their own European-made luxury handbag. An idea that began at a Build-a-Bear workshop in Bondi Junction, Lana has grown Mon Purse into a multi-million-dollar business based in Double Bay with a flagship store located on prestigious William Street in Paddington. 

Learn more about Lana Hopkins and the Mon Purse story here.

Julia Softley, founder and creative director of MLM Label and Julia Softley Bridal

Based in Rosebery in Sydney’s inner-city, Julia has been garnering a lot of attention for her oh-so-chic modern style. Originally starting as a small creative project alongside her fashion agency at the time, Julia has turned MLM Label into a fulltime gig that has grown to include Julia Softley Bridal. 

Learn more about Julia Softley and the MLM Label story here.

Sigourney Cantelo, editor and founder of Beauticate

Starting her journalistic career as a beauty writer, Sigourney fast-tracked her way to being Vogue’s beauty and health director before launching her own online beauty publication, Beauticate. From Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Sigourney keeps us well-informed on the latest beauty products, treatments and trends in an industry that can be overwhelming.

Learn more about Sigourney Cantelo and Beauticate’s story here.


Sarah Holloway, founder and owner of Matcha Maiden

From corporate lawyer to fun-trepreneur, Sarah Holloway has spent the last few years diligently tapping away, slowly but surely building up her impressive matcha empire. What started as a fun side hustle – Sarah and her partner Nic first discovered matcha powder in Hong Kong, and quickly fell in love with the stuff – has now transformed into a booming business with an ecommerce store Matcha Maiden, and sleek St Kilda café, Matcha Mylkbar. Between both businesses, her popular ‘Seize the Yay’ podcast and keeping her Spoonful of Sarah Instagram fans up to date, this Matcha Maiden is firing on all cylinders.

Learn more about Sarah Holloway and her Matcha-infused story here.

Lucy Fenton, owner of Fenton & Fenton

With an impeccable eye for style and an interiors collection worth shouting about, Lucy Fenton is one designer/stylist with serious credentials. Inspired by her globe-trotting adventures around India, Morocco and Europe, her unique homeware store – and one of Melbourne’s finest – Fenton & Fenton (part interiors boutique, part gallery) is a treasure trove of vintage one-off finds, fusing bold colours and textiles with beautiful furniture, statement artwork, and quirky objects sourced from near and far.

Learn more about Lucy Fenton and her beautiful homewares store here.

Hayley Bonham, stylist and founder of La Porte Space

Synonymous with fashion and luxe, stylist Hayley Bonham is the woman behind luxury workspace and events venue, La Porte Space. Alongside partner, Rory Elsom, together they transformed an established building in Rosebery into a beautifully designed multiuse creative space, complete with a Moroccan-esque courtyard – now one of the most highly sought-after creative workspaces.

Learn more about Hayley Bonham and La Porte Space’s story here.

lynette phillips, sydney
lynette phillips, sydney
Lynette Phillips, CEO and founder of MAXMEDIALAB

Based in Sydney’s industrial chic suburb of Alexandria, Lynette’s full-service media agency for premium lifestyle brands, MAXMEDIALAB, has a roll call of clients that reads like a who’s who of luxury brands. For Lynette, this all came after an already successful career working within the publishing industry for 20 years.

Learn more about Lynette Phillips and the MAXMEDIALAB story here.

marisa young and gabby manderson, northern beaches
marisa young and gabby manderson, northern beaches
Marisa Young and Gabby Manderson, owners of Splice Boutique

Sisters, Marisa and Gabby, turned their after-school job into a fashion destination for women on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Grabbing the opportunity to buy the original boutique at a young age, the sisters now look after three boutiques (Freshwater, Newport and Avalon), an ever-expanding online store, and their own house brand, éss the Label.

Learn more about Marissa Young and Gabby Manderson and the Splice Boutique story here. 

tess robinson smack bang designs, bronte
tess robinson smack bang designs, bronte
Tess Robinson, owner and creative director of Smack Bang Designs

The creative energy behind local talent, Tess founded her own boutique brand and design agency at 22 years old while still studying at university. Today, Smack Band Designs in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, is an established agency with a fresh style that is busily redefining brands and bringing new ones to life.

Learn more about Tess Robinson and the Smack Bang Design story here.

natalie marie, avalon
natalie marie, avalon
Natalie Marie Fitch, owner and creative director of Natalie Marie Jewellery

Out of her Avalon-based studio, Natalie creates original, handcrafted and beautifully designed jewellery. Having moved to Australia from the South of England just over 10 years ago, Natalie immersed herself in a Visual Arts degree at Sydney University, majoring in Jewellery and Object. Today, Natalie crafts handmade collections, and for the lucky few, customised pieces.

Learn more about Natalie Marie Finch and the Natalie Marie Jewellery story  here.