Explore Byron Bay's Ghostwood Emporium

Up-cycled vintage fashion in Byron Bay- with Emily Frankie Edwards

Ghostwood Emporium is Emily Frankie Edwards' brainchild. The 34-year-old Sydney native migrated north to the sun-drenched lands of Byron Bay 15 years ago. And with a background in styling, art direction, photography and fashion design, the young entrepreneur birthed the 2015 collection of handpicked and up-cycled vintage clothing and collectables from Australia and overseas.

Nestled in the Arts and Industry Estate in Byron Bay, a rapidly growing hub for artists and creatives, The Ghostwood Emporium encompasses Edwards' passion for vintage and recycled goods, and is in line with her values for a sustainable future.

Incorporated into the Ghostwood space is Edwards' second creative venture, Cloud Six Studio, a photographic studio where she shoots her own creative projects as well as collaborations with other fashion labels and artists.

Welum caught up with Edwards to chat about her creative endeavours and her vision for a sustainable fashion industry.

 What first inspired you to create Ghostwood Emporium?

I had a clothing label before I started Ghostwood; however, I found the fashion industry extremely destructive on the environment and its precious resources. I decided it was time to engage in something more meaningful to me and in line with my values that didn't impact the Earth. I've always been into collecting rare pieces and styling them to create a new story, whether through art, photography, interior design or wearable pieces. I'm also a huge lover of nature and was fascinated by the wabi sabi qualities of using natural mediums with all their rustic & authentic weathering in place.

In fact, it was through my huge love of driftwood that the name Ghostwood was born. I have always loved collecting it and making sculptures, structures and furniture. Even my clothing rack system in the shop is made from pieces of driftwood I collected after a huge storm which are hung by rope from a recycled timber support beam I attached to the roof. Every piece from light fittings to counter tops to shelving & racks are all made from reclaimed pieces. I almost never buy anything new anymore!
The name also comes from "ghost" symbolising the past- recycled and vintage, and "wood" because it's kept as natural and as close to nature as possible.

 Where did you grow up and what drew you to Byron Bay?

I was on born Diamond Road, Pearl Beach, in an old timber house by the sea, which backed onto bush with a creek that ran beside it. I spent all my early childhood there climbing trees, exploring along the beach, studying the other worldly sea creatures that appeared in the rock pools and collecting shells & driftwood like a scene out of blue lagoon. Once we were old enough to need an education, we packed up and moved from paradise to inner city Sydney just off Oxford St on Tailor Square. It was super rough and totally ghetto back then so it was quite a cultural shock for me. I had to learn to be street smart pretty quickly. From there, we moved alot- like gypsies in the city- including some time in the blue mountains also. I actually really appreciate the experience in hindsight as having lived in such polarised positions, it gave me a broad and worldly view from a young age.

I spent a few years living abroad after school then came up to Byron for a week's holiday to clear my mind before I planned to move to Melbourne. Now I've been here for over 10 years!
I believe it reminded me of my early childhood and how I felt at my happiest being close to nature; rainforests, waterfalls & ocean. Nature is my medicine.

What is your vision/philosophy for your business?

I hope to spread a positive message and inspire others to; look after our precious earth which is under so much unnecessary stress. To recycle / up-cycle and find new life in old things rather than just throw them out and contribute to landfill, slave labour and the use of toxic chemicals and dyes in modern factories. (We live in such a fast paced "throw away" society). To find more appreciation and value in what already exists and breathe new life into it, rather than constantly be on the hunt for something new to replace it, which consumes the earth's resources. Up-cycling is very on-trend right now but I really hope it becomes a general practice that sticks in society. To find beauty in nature and natural mediums, and finally, to find their own unique self expression instead of being slaves to the trickery of corporate marketing giants.

Your creative and entrepreneurial skills are very broad, are you self–taught or did you study fashion design/photography/business?

I studied design and business at various points in my life but if I'm honest, the greatest education & skill set I've obtained is by jumping in the deep end and learning as I go through trial and error. I'm a bit like a computer with 80 tabs open at once, so I get bored easily unless I'm using my mind or imagination to create or learn new things. Because of this, I like to be involved with nearly all creative aspects of the business from designing, photography, styling, sourcing, carpentry, web design, writing, etc.

 Can you tell me a bit about Cloud Six Studio and how the idea was born?

When I bought my studio space in the Arts Estate of Byron Bay about eight years ago it was just an empty white shell, so I decided to utilise the space as best as possible by dividing it into sections. I wanted each room to portray its own unique feel or "story," like entering different film sets. I needed a photographic studio to shoot my own work yet I couldn't find any in the area to hire at the time, so I decided to build one! Everything I've done or created has been a very organic process in accordance with what was needed at the time...it just flowed. I realised that there'd be others like me wanting to hire a studio so I opened the space for other photographers to hire, that's how Cloud Six was formed. From there I've met so many interesting people & had the opportunity to collaborate on various projects.

What are your biggest creative influences in your life?

Nature is my greatest teacher and creative influence / inspiration.

What are your greatest joys with what you do professionally?

I feel very blessed to be doing what I love as a profession and finding a way to turn my creative hobbies into a career. It's amazing that I have the opportunity to express all my creative passions within one field and live / work ethically with a light foot print & hopefully inspire others to do the same. I feel if everyone on the planet were able to contribute to the world with their own unique passion and gifts without the pressures of our current dysfunctional & discriminatory economic systems, the world would be a very different place & function in a more harmonious, enriched and sustainable way.

What does the future hold for Ghostwood Emporium and Cloud Six Studio?

I'm currently investigating my options for an online shop for Ghostwood, especially for my European vintage clothing. I love doing styling jobs and sourcing and designing custom up-cycled pieces and hope to expand on this continually.

I love to travel so I'm planning to take plenty more sourcing trips in the future, treasure hunting and documenting my journeys.

I'm also wanting to invest more energy into my photography and creative writing projects. I've just started a series of short biographies and black and white portraits to add to the "Ghostwood Diaries" documenting creative & inspiring people who imbue the Ghostwood ethic and aesthetic.

I don't think I'll ever stop creating so the possibilities and future projects for Ghostwood and Cloud Six Studio are endless. It's exciting, who knows where they will take me next, there is no limit with such open creative outlets I guess. http://www.instagram.com/ghostwoodemporium


Emily Frankie Edwards