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July 18, 2016
Commerce

California in the country

Despite a plethora of Adelaide-based companies stacked proudly in their design portfolio, a small online fashion boutique from Port Lincoln has been the catalyst for some of Frame Creative’s most iconic work to date.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Frame Creative

If you’ve ever bought anything made in Adelaide it’s pretty likely you’ve come across the work of Frame Creative.

The team, led by brothers Tim, Sam and Simon Pearce, have been shaping the look of some of Adelaide’s most iconic brands – including Mismatch Brewing, Birdcage Boutique, Coal Cellar + Grill, and the Little Miss Group’s Fat Controller.

Perhaps lesser known around Adelaide is Coco California, an online fashion boutique based in Port Lincoln, who recently expanded into the physical world.

“We started online in 2012 and we had our website for probably over a year or so,” says Stefanie Parsons, one of the business’ five co-owners.

“We live in a small town, so we kind of knew that the internet was sort of the way to go. We didn’t really intend to open up a store at all, but then to have a place to go every day and display all our stock, we just kind of got really excited.”

A storefront was found for Coco California, but it was a less-than-impressive space, and Frame were brought in.

“We got on Google Earth and we looked it up, we were just like ‘this is going to be a tough gig to make this look good,’” Sam recalls.

But after spending time together in Port Lincoln, the two family-based businesses began to get a picture of where the Coco California brand could go, and embarked on a head-to-toe redesign.

“We’d always had a love for California and all things LA and Beverly Hills, all of that sort of vibe,” Stef says.

 “If you understand what the client wants and what their vision is, our responsibility is to help them…” – Tim Pearce

“We brought all of those things… that we love – we obviously already had the name and the palm tree aspect – and then they just understood us so well and interpreted our style and what we envisioned and took it above and beyond.”

From the neon green palm tree behind the counter (visible from the other side of the street), to the green and pink pastel colour palette, even what’s understated in the branding feels like a statement.

Tim credits the successful articulation of the brand to their collaborative approach.

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“Going through the thinking process with [a client], rather than just going ‘ok here’s some designs: surprise, surprise’, I think they appreciate that,” he says.

“A lot of people in Lincoln, up until [Coco California] opened [would] fly to Adelaide or Melbourne to go shopping because they want access to stuff you can get in the cities.

“I guess they didn’t really have a cohesive vision for how that could come together as a brand experience, and so we just helped put a bit more definition around that for them.”

And the effect, Stef says, is that people now identify with the brand, which is translating into more sales and more engagement.

And given Coco California’s now-iconic frontage, it’s certainly very difficult to ignore the building.

“The façade wasn’t part of the original job,” Simon says. “We pitched it to them because we’re just like ‘we’ve got this great interior, we can make that look beautiful, but the building’s bringing it down.’

“As soon as they saw it they said, ‘we’re doing that.’”

After sourcing the material online (and politicking with council and strata groups) the mesh curtain was raised and the store’s entire vision came to fruition.

The redesign is an ongoing project, despite the distance between the two groups, which played only a very minor role in the whole process.

“It would’ve been nicer if it was in Adelaide, just for convenience, but it was actually smooth sailing the whole way,” Sam says.

“The reason distance isn’t too much of a problem is because if you understand what the client wants and what their vision is, our responsibility is to help them and their responsibility is to do what’s right for their business,” Tim says.

“If they decide that a premium fashion boutique in Port Lincoln is the right thing to do, then we just work with them to find the best way of doing that.”

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