Brought up living on the beach at Bilinga and attending Coolangatta State School, Diane Spence’s Southern Gold Coast roots dig much deeper than her business, MICDesigns.
“I love Coolangatta so much. When people say to me that I need time off work for a holiday, I always reply with ‘Why? I live in paradise!’”
Diane began her career as a pattern maker and piece worker for a range of Gold Coast surf companies. When they took their lines offshore to be manufactured in China, Diane started her own business, Made in Coolangatta Designs, creating women’s boots and evening wear.
Her personal motivation by the Australian made principle was sparked by her work in the rag trade since she was a young girl. When it came to starting up her first business in the early 1980s, Diane employed 9 ladies and it has always been a family orientated atmosphere since then.
Diane describes her business MICDesigns as being on the opposite end of the spectrum to her original start up, now having invented a range of patent protected and trademarked clothing used for workers in Hyperthermic and Hypothermic conditions, and their own fire resistant range.
“The highlight for me comes every winter when the orders start to come in for the thousands of SCATs we sell every year, a term we created to describe our half hat, half scarf design.”
“The fact that our underground mining community still supports our Australian made garment after all this time and in favour of cheaper imported versions is really a credit to the Australian spirit.”
Through adversity, the business has continued to manufacture in Coolangatta with the Australian made principles at the forefront of the business model.
It’s no surprise that Diane sees a lot more hard work in the future of MICDesigns with their sights set on opening a retail boutique upstairs on Griffith St alongside their factory and offices.
“There will be something a bit different and unique for everyone with that special made in Coolangatta feel that we have always tried to incorporate into everything we do. We hope to inspire some local young folk to continue on the Made in Coolangatta tradition we have started.”
When asked what motivated the business’ location in Coolangatta, it was the oceanfront office, friendly local atmosphere, feeling of safety and sense of community that topped Diane’s list.
“Most mornings when I go for my swim before work, I take time to reflect on how lucky I am to be here in Coolangatta. That is why I registered my business Made in Coolangatta as it is not only made in Australia but in the town that I love with all my heart.”
For more information about MICDesigns, see their website at www.micdesignspence.com.au