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A moment with Kira McDonough: Weaving Family, Heritage, and Artisan Craftsmanship into the Tapestry of Estilo Emporio.


The driving passion is definitely family. 

We survive within our business because of each other! There is an unspoken knowing about what it takes to run a family business that only family businesses will ever really be able to comprehend. There can be obvious complexities involved; however, these are always heavily outweighed by the overall respect and motivation of working with and for each other. We share the same passion and motivation and really, we all play our part.

What's the driving passion behind Estilo Emporio? A uniquely family run business, we'd love to know the history behind how you came to be where you are today.

We are fortunate enough to have a story that dates back to the 70’s in Spain and an aesthetic that derives from our Father hand-making belts and bags on the streets of Sitges, on the Costa Brava of Spain. Mac and Mardee (Husband and Wife/Mum and Dad) then developed a cottage industry, engaging many locals to emboss, plait and hand stitch leather bags, belts and sandals in their homes. Soon they were selling wares in exhibitions throughout Europe and even to Neiman Marcus in the USA.  They had a factory and 4 stores along the Coast and even one in Gaudi’s La Pedrera, Barcelona.

Thirty years later, we all work side-by-side continue to celebrate our European heritage, maintaining a passion for craftsmanship, quality and timeless style. Our roots have enabled us to cultivate close relationships with our European manufacturers. The majority are family owned and there is a real pride in the production and quality, which only comes from creating with passion and care. Our manufacturers feel more like an extended family. 

What’s more, European manufacturing is largely revered by consumers as a sign of luxury. And with good reason; Europeans do not short cut in their quality of life, food or fashion. There is passion in all of it!


You have the most effortless style with a beautiful, playful and feminine spirit that is authentically reflected in your designs and everything you wear. Can you talk to us about what inspires your personal style? 

Thank you! Two words: Queen Gigi. Our uber cool Mother has always been a guiding light in the evolution of my personal style. I say this because she always involved me in her wardrobe since I can remember and now, I incorporate a part of her into my everyday style. I have learned from her to make fashion fit in with my lifestyle, and that clothes should enable me, not hold me back.

Although Gigi’s clothing tastes have evolved and changed through the years, she always stays true to what suits her best and tops it off with her signature red lipstick – I don’t think I have ever seen her without! I remember sitting on her bed as a child idolizing her as she got ready for the day or an evening out with an outfit that always had that one standout detail that made her unique to anyone else walking down the street. This is by far is my number one styling mantra, standout! It can be subtle, but make it unique. Quality is also paramount! My mother’s style centres around fabrics that last. She has pieces in her wardrobe collected over the years and I have benefited from her pursuit of quality. 

The way we dress and the way we design are very similar; it’s like telling our own autobiography, written out one clothing piece at a time. The collections are like a story written in line with the different seasons. I recognise myself within each collection. 

The creative process that leads to the final collection is incredibly similar to the creation of worlds that is at the basis of any forms of art, with a narrative core - from writing to photography: designing a collection is just another way of telling a story! Season after season we try to evoke images of freedom and fantasy, discovery and adventure, creativity, romance and escape… everything we desire in our lifetime

Can you share a little about the sustainable and slow nature behind the craftsmanship of every EE piece?

The entire production is hand worked, from the yarn to the finished product, upholding the integrity of true artisanal hand work, with respect for the natural fibre and world in which it grows. We only choose natural fibers and, where possible, from organic agriculture. The dyes we use are free from harmful chemicals and are gentle on both our skin and the environment. We honour the real, traditional, artisanal methods of production with raw, sustainable and organic processes.  And lots of heart and soul! 🤍

Our production philosophy continues to honour artisanal processes using raw, sustainable fibers made in Italy and Spain. We work with a cottage industry and employ artisans high in the hills of the Amalfi Coast and in a small medieval town that borders Tuscany, both whom specialise in loom work. Our linen and knitwear garments are woven traditionally on old looms, naturally and hand dyed and then sewn by women in their homes along the coastline of the Amalfi and in the inland region of Italy (the green heart of Italy!)  

We manufacture all of our footwear out of Spain and Italy and are committed to traditional and artisanal craftsmanship, premium production and authenticity. We have immersed ourselves in a range so rich in culture, tradition, pride and centuries of craftsmanship! 

It is never just about the quality of the goods, but also the story behind it; the synergy between the artisan and the designer, the craftsman’s story behind the product and the designer behind the concept. 


 What's one thing people might be surprised to learn about Estilo Emporio?

When my parents moved to Australia in the 80’s, back when the business came under another name, they moved all of their machinery and manufacturing materials here and had over 50 employees in-house who were all taught (by my parents) the artisanal skills of Spain! 


 Favourite European travel destinations? 

I cannot imagine a life without travelling. I cannot remember a journey that had not changed me somehow! 

I know Positano like the back of my hand, and since all the chaos (from the popularity!) have learnt how to weave around back streets and avoid the crowds. I love how the mountains and sea wraps Positano with a seamless blend of perspective. I have an absolute soul connection with the North side of the Island of Ibiza, the landscape and the people really tinker at my bohemian heart. I love to Island hop to Formentera and really, any Island on the Med! I have recently left a part of my soul in Sardinia, a truly ancient landscape of granite rocks and pristine water. When you see it for the first time it’s hard to imagine a place could be so beautiful, so wild and untouched.

What’s something the Current You would like the Young You to know?

I almost feel like the opposite! I want the young me to remind the older me to be more fearless. With age comes wisdom (for sure!) but I have also felt some caution creep up with years and I am constantly trying to embody my younger wild, free self and to listen to her. She would tell me that life is all about bliss and taking the time to re-connect and let the energy flow. To take the time to just be in the world, invite playtime and to manifest happiness. 


Any advice for family members who are also partners in business?

We are a very tight family and we share a common appreciation of our heritage, respect for our history and love for what our parents started. We all share the same goals and the same vision; we work together in the same space and in the same atmosphere comparing our vision and ideas. Often, we take decisions all together during our lunch in the company kitchen. We are interconnected, interdependent and creatively cohesive - but we definitely do not always agree on everything! 

We are not the best communicators and there is definitely assumptions and expectations embedded in the work/family dynamic that need to be ironed out. The advice I would give, is the same advice I try to remind myself: to make a conscious effort to communicate daily (we never do!), try to separate the family dynamic when in the office and treat each other as work colleagues; create healthy boundaries but don’t shut down when things get tough, you are all in this together!   


Congratulations on your recent engagement! What magic is on the cards for you personally and for Estilo Emporio in 2024?

Thank you! I am very excited and in a total love bubble. We really would love to extend our time in Europe and are looking into expanding overseas, a full circle is on the cards, a return to Spain! Viva la libertad! 


Estilo Emporio pieces sold on Worn For Good support StreetSmart.
100% of profits from this collection go to StreetSmart who exist to support people who are fleeing domestic violence, recovering from natural disasters, or moving into accommodation after experiencing homelessness. With funds raised, they seek out, support and partner with smaller, grassroots, homeless services through unique, location-based, collaborative community grants programs across Australia. 
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