Haus of Armour’s founder, Kate Jackson, is driven by two forces: purpose and style.
Her love affair with fashion began at the tender age of seven when she became besotted with a pair of white cowboy boots in a shoe store.
“They had tassels and a silver star and everything,” Kate recalls wistfully. “It was the height of the eighties, and I begged Mum to get them for me. She told me I could do some chores and save up my own money to buy them, so that’s exactly what I did!”
Kate’s passion for fashion hasn’t waned a day since. Let her loose in an op shop, a weekend market or an online vintage store and you can be guaranteed that she will emerge with the most envy-inducing finds.
“For me, clothes are like my second skin,” she says. “The outfits I wear are an extension of myself and my passions; they show the essence of who I am.”
Kate’s knack for assembling one-of-a-kind outfits and interiors was the foundation of an early career styling people and places.
For more than 12 years her work as a high-end interior designer, decorator and stylist took her across the world from Melbourne to London, Dubai and Asia, yet she yearned to do more – to make a difference beyond mere beautification.
Pivot to purpose
Feeling burned out and disillusioned, Kate booked a holiday to Kenya where she ended up doing volunteer work. The trip was life changing. Upon returning to Australia, she decided to pursue a new career in social work.
“For eight years I worked with young people and their families who were highly marginalised, often experiencing homelessness and moving in and out of the prison system,” Kate explains.
“It wasn’t light-hearted work. I spent my days with young men who struggled with significant substance abuse and mental health issues, but I knew I was in the right place. I never wanted to save the world, I just wanted to walk alongside and be in the corner of people who’d never had anyone in their corner before,” she says.
It was while working with young men in prison that Kate first saw the potential of using fashion to make a difference.
“Every time I walked onto the prison unit all the young guys would have something to say about my outfits. They’d say, ‘Where’d you get that from Kate – you look like you got dressed in an op shop!’
“These young people had been completely de-identified while in custody. They were all in standard issue tracksuits, but told me they were used to wearing Tommy Hilfiger or Lacoste because for them, it’s all about street cred, and those brands were their currency.”
“I could see there was an opportunity to help people reclaim their sense of identity through fashion, for instance when they were coming out of the prison system. I sensed this might be a way I could pull my two loves together: fashion AND making some kind of difference in people’s lives.”
Then in 2020, Kate had the idea for Haus of Armour.