Chinchilla’s Melanie Weller is a shining example of a country girl who has carved a fabulous fashion niche, business and lifestyle away from the city lights and glamorous catwalks usually associated with her industry.
Melanie (31) grew up near Chinchilla but left to study then travel the world before returning to her home town haven seven years ago to pursue her lifelong interest. With a love for teaching and children, but with an underlying passion for fashion always present, Melanie originally chose the former and embarked on an education degree at the Queensland University of Technology after completing her schooling at Fairholme in Toowoomba. What followed not only furthered her career in education, but built the foundations for her future fashion endeavours.
Spreading her wings and realising her dream to travel, Melanie taught in London before securing the job of a lifetime, working as a nanny for hotel magnate Sol Kerzner of Sun International. She accompanied the family to destinations including New York, South Africa, The Maldives and Mauritius, and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Nelson Mandela and Bono.
A seemingly unbelievable life for a recent university graduate, she was exposed to fashion and glamour on an international level.
Towards the end of her adventure, Melanie received a call from her sister Jasmin, who planned to open an optometry practice in Chinchilla, inviting Melanie to join her in the store. The seed was sown and in 2005, Melanie established her boutique and label, Moskie. Originally designing accessories, she later branched into clothes.
Melanie was lured back to her country roots by the proximity of family and appeal of a settled pace of life. Soon after returning home, she found love, and her now husband Marcus also moved to Chinchilla where he is a high school PE teacher. As Moskie continued to grow, Melanie developed a close friendship with one of her customers, and so found her business partner for the next step of her journey. Brisbane-based interior designer Katie Johnson was living in Chinchilla at the time and the pair worked steadily at establishing the classic Village Collection label. It is now available in other stores as well, such as Smoke and Mirrors in Toowoomba, three outlets in Brisbane, and online.
Melanie and Katie design their own styles seasonally and profile the collection with photo shoots and fashion parades in Chinchilla with like-minded local women as guests and models. The label also supports charity and community events across the Downs. They are continuing to evolve their business with an online custom design facility. Village has also started offering a line of accessories and homewares including cushions, tablerunners and mats, with the possibility of furniture on the horizon.
While the call of city lights and open seas may be hard to resist, Melanie has proved that the lure of a life in the country can be just as, if not more, satisfying.
Photos by Phoebe Hofsteede and Kate Boshammer | Make up by Juliana Goncalves at Blush Artistry