Anna Sillett, the petite beauty behind the well known fashion blog Alabasta Doll is just as lovely as her online name suggests. This week I had the pleasure to meet up with Anna at Milk & Honey to chat about her style, fashion history & her recent move to the garden city.What brought you to Toowoomba?
Well my husband […] was offered to go for a promotion. I was like, “Do it!” then he said, “The catch is, it’s in Toowoomba”. I thought they were based in Brisbane, but nope, Toowoomba. He got the job! Then we made the move. My previous job I was at for about 7 years, or a bit over. I didn’t hate my job but it was time for a change. We don’t really know anyone here so it’s a clean slate. We’re really starting over!
Is your family based in Brisbane?
No, my mum lives up north in Gympie, which is where we grew up & went to school. I then spent six years on the Sunshine Coast, and then moved home for a few months, then moved to Brisbane.
How did your blog start?
When I first left high school, I was studying sports & exercise nutrition at uni. I think I got two weeks in & realised, “This is not what I want to do!”. I wanted to be out working, getting paid. I started working at City Beach & learning to work in fashion retail. Then I moved to the Sunshine Coast I did a fashion design course at the Tafe there for a couple of years. That was really good. I made a couple of lifelong friends. I did some external study, but it was hard to interact with the teachers so ended up canning that. Did Alabasta Doll come soon after that?
It’s only coming up to about 2 or maybe 3 years old. Maybe 2. I’ll have to double check that. My friends & family said, “You should start a blog!” so I guess I started when my friend signed me up to Instagram. I thought it was really cool, really arty and you could get creative. I started posting whatever I liked, plus fashion posts and my outfits. I started to see more interaction on my fashion posts rather than other posts. I was really scared because once you put yourself out on the internet, you’re out there forever. That put me off for about a year. I was thinking about it for ages, and at the time I was working at Alterior Motif on the Sunshine Coast so I had access to such beautiful clothing. I would ask friends or whoever was in to take photos, one for their Instagram and others for my blog.
“My first blog post was one I did at work, just off an iPhone. It just started from there.”
Were you working at Alterior Motif for your whole time on the coast?
No I actually started at Mishkah. That was my first fashion job on the coast. I think I was in store for about maybe four years. I then went overseas for about six weeks, came back & managed Alterior for a year. Just as I was leaving Mishkah, that’s when I met Harry. He was living in Brisbane, so just before I left for overseas, Penny (Alterior Motif) approached me. I thought, “What an amazing role!” so when I came back I started there, did my year contract then moved to Brisbane to be with Harry. I then went back to Mishkah because by then they had moved from the coast to Brisbane, and now they’re all online.How are you liking your move from Brisbane to Toowoomba? I see you’re working at Ivy Designer Collections?
I love working at Ivy! My boss is amazing, just too lovely to be true. I guess, people that I know ask, “Why are you living in Toowoomba?” and I feel that it’s really underrated! I think if I was younger I’d be in a different headspace, but my husband & I are interested in settling down & buying a house soon. We’re in that mind frame. How do you feel your style has evolved? You’ve gone from having a very coastal and city view to something a little bit quieter.
I feel like I have kept the same style. Sometimes I go to wear something & think, “Will people stare?” because it’s a bit out there, but what the hell. You wear whatever. I’m learning to layer, everything. I’m not used to having big coats, but it’s nice for a change. I love winter fashion.
I love your aesthetic. It feels really pared back, & it doesn’t make you feel like you have to try too hard to emulate your style. It is really relatable for a lot of people. It’s something to aspire to but you don’t feel like you can’t achieve it.
I think that’s what I wanted to achieve by starting this. I wanted people to go, “I’ve got a pair of jeans like that, and a top like that, but I never thought of wearing that with that.”
“I didn’t want to put on a facade, just be more conversational.”
How does Harry go being an “Insta-Husband”?
We have our moments. When we first started I’d ask, “Can you take some photos please?” He used to hate it. Hate it! We had to go where no one could see us. Then slowly I would say, “See how you’ve taken it like this… Can you angle it a bit like this…” Now he’s saying, “Do this…Do that…”. We’d have arguments at the beginning. You can see in some photos I’m really frustrated with him. I looked really pissed off. Now on Sundays we go & take snaps. It’s really quick now & he’s a lot better at taking photos. I can’t complain, he’s great!You’ve obviously doing pretty well on social media too. You’re Instagram has taken off. Have you noticed a steady growth or did it happen all at once?
There was a while there I noticed, maybe for like five months, it was growing like crazy. Maybe about 1000 followers a month. Now, since Facebook took over Instagram it’s changed a little bit. Followers have died down, so you just can’t pick it anymore.
Tell me more about Alabasta Doll. How did that concept & name develop?
The name… I’d rather not say if that’s ok!
That’s ok, you can keep some secrets!
That’s the only one, sorry! I wanted a quirky name, but nothing that was cliche. Do you have any brands that you love working with?
I love working with Revolve. They are based in America, they’re so lovely to deal with & the clothes are amazing. Their clothes are a bit more expensive so I get to wear things that I wouldn’t otherwise get to wear. At the moment I’m collaborating with Popcherry, which have the same kind of style as Mishkah.
Do you approach the brands or do they approach you?
Revolve approached me which I was stoked with! A lot of the collaborations I’ve done have happened after the brands have approached me, which is really nice. Sometimes I’ll send out emails. Sometimes it’s followed through with a collaboration but half the time you never hear back. At first it sucks, but you’ve just got to let it go. That’s the industry.
“It’s important not to say yes to everything though. It’s important to stay true to yourself.”
Where do you see Alabasta Doll going in the next few years?
It all started off as a hobby, as I didn’t have any kind of hobby in my spare time. I’d love to take it further but I need to look at it from a different angle. I don’t know! I’ve just renewed my website for another few years so who knows! I don’t think I could ever get sick of fashion or clothing. I just love it! It’s kind of like art, how you can dress to how you feel. So it’s not like a job. It’s like, “Oh I’ve got to do this today” but only because I’m passionate about it.