Ranae Panoho and Nicky McAleer making hand-crafted vintage skirts.
Ranae Panoho and Nicky McAleer making hand-crafted vintage skirts. Warren Lynam

Frances Frocks prove they have some real street cred

WHEN an admirer stopped Nicky McAleer in the street and asked if they could photograph her outfit, she knew she was on to something.

At that moment, she realised others also loved her beautiful skirts with a hand-selected mix of old and new fabrics layered on easy-care cotton lycra.

Her flair for fashion began when she saw a dress she loved priced at $600 - too much for what she thought was a fairly basic design. So she made her own from a tablecloth bought online.

That was the first of many.

On the veranda of her Moffat Beach home, Nicky runs her hands across the different textures of a newly pieced skirt and smiles as she says that she has always loved the "lacy look" in fashion.

Now, thanks to the internet, she has achieved market success with her eclectic designs.

"I so wanted to do something creative," Nicky said.

"I talked it over with my girlfriend Ranae Panoho and she had all these bags of doilies and linens that her grandmother had left her."

Ranae's grandmother was called Frances, and so the entrepreneurial couple set up a Facebook page appropriately named Frances' Frocks.

Each item is beautifully pieced together on Thursdays and Fridays when Ranae and Nicky sit together, chat and create.

Plenty of love and laughter goes into each garment that requires no ironing, and is designed to be comfortable and flattering.

While Frances' Frocks is still a blissful hobby at this stage, happy customers and a dedicated Facebook page are spreading the word.

One special commissioned piece was for the granddaughter of cancer survivor.

The skirt incorporated heirloom pieces for the granddaughter as a lasting memory.

Nicky loves every part of the design process from sourcing the fabrics and dyeing to laying out and sewing.

All fabrics are donated or sourced locally with the pair often found scouring op shops for bargains and one-offs.

Even Nicky's teenage daughters Cassie and Lauren have become involved in piecing fabrics together into something beautiful for young girls.

While Nicky and Ranae, both full-time teachers, would love their home business to continue growing, they want it to remain local and not have to source materials overseas or manufacture offshore.

They have already sent orders to New Zealand, Samoa and France and in one week recently, had a massive 14 skirts to complete.

The success of their small home business is testament that care and quality never go out of style.


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