Hello, I'm Ceara Lile. I've been making things from fabric for as long as I can remember.
My mother taught me to hand sew when I was about five years old. I sewed buttons onto handkerchiefs, beads onto felt and clothes for my dolls (the only time I really played with dolls). When I was eight my mother taught me to sew on a vintage Singer hand crank sewing machine.
As a child of 1980's New Zealand who grew up in hand-me-downs, I began creating my own clothes as soon as I had a basic machine and a stash of fabric given to me by relatives. At intermediate school I learned to sew on an electric sewing machine and was then allowed to use my mum's to make my own clothing. The power to create my own clothes to my own style and taste had me hooked. Since then I was determined to become a fashion designer when I grew up.
As soon as I had finished high school I went to study fashion at AUT in Auckland, in the first intake of their BA in Fashion Technology, graduating in 1998. And I loved it!!
It was only after I'd graduated and began working as a pattern-cutter and design room assistant for a fashion wholesaler that I became aware of sweat shops and the hugely negative environmental impact that the fashion industry made. So I left.
Since then I have worked and studied in many different areas including eco-tourism, education, psychology and fitness. In 2015 my partner, Mario, and I realised our dream of working together by opening a tattoo studio in Wellington. Working as the business brain in such a creative environment, and being surrounded by artists working at what they loved, lead to me becoming increasingly frustrated and unsettled.
Seeing my frustration, Mario gifted me a place on an eco-printing workshop. My creative fires were reignited and the path to Perpetua Studio was laid...
ABOUT PERPETUA AND KONSTANTIN
Perpetua is one half of Perpetua and Konstantin Studios - named after my Slovak partner's grandparents, back in Slovakia. The studios sit side by side on Fitzherbert St in Featherston, NZ, and embody a place of creativity, community and family.
My partner, Mario Gregor, and I dreamed up the concept of these studios while we were travelling around the Far North on our motorbike in 2018. The more we spoke our ideas to one another, the more sense it made as a way to connect to our home and plant the roots of both our backgrounds in our chosen home of Featherston - and to give us a sense of place, calm and belonging in our work life.
Once we thought of the name/s the idea began to take on a life of its own.
Perpetua and Konstantin were hard-working, creative, family-and-community-minded people. Perpetua crafted handmade linens from scratch with her loom. Konstantin was a hands-on engineer who built the family home Mario grew up in (and that his family still lives in). I wish I could have met Perpetua and Konstantin - I think we would have liked each other.
Neither are common names in Slovakia (where they were from). However, both Perpetua and Konstantin mean 'everlasting' or 'constant' and reflect the work that we both do. The names underscore my drive to create sustainable, timeless and eco-friendly fashion. For Mario at Konstantin Studio they relate to the permanence of the art in the skin.
We are excited to share our creative home with you!