From Country Markets to the National Stage
Jenny Layton and Christine Metcalfe are the co-founding directors of The Ark Clothing Co., a women’s fashion label established in 1990.
Prior to The Ark, Jen established and ran Reflections Gallery for 10 years in Melbourne, known for the exhibition and promotion of emerging Australian artists and its quality framing. Chris taught fashion at Footscray Technical College and pursued her passion designing and making children’s clothes, which she sold very successfully through a stall at the iconic Red Hill Market.
Meeting through their husbands, a common creative bond developed, and a business was born. Together they established the Oz Ark label (children’s wear), later to become The Ark Clothing Co. (women’s wear).
Inspired by any creative thought or concept, especially if it contributed to a woman’s feelings of wellbeing and value, fuelled a desire in Jen and Chris to continually develop The Ark into a meaningful fashion label with plenty of real soul.
Uniting their complementary talents, the business started with a contribution of $200 of “housekeeping” money and morphed into a company turning well over $10 million annually, with no debt. This partnership continued for the next 26 years and forged a deep friendship both women cherish.
Chris Metcalfe The Arks’ greatest achievement however, was being 100% Australian designed and made, establishing key ongoing social enterprise projects and supporting/ collaborating with young creatives establishing their careers in the industry.
Jen and Chris sold The Ark Clothing Co. three years ago and now pursue their other passions, including mentoring emerging designers as part of Curated, an Australian Fashion Council initiative they were key in establishing. Jen has also since established a foundation called Earthed that supports indigenous women in design and fashion in the Kimberley, Western Australia.
The Cottage Restaurant @ the Inlet Hotel3-5 The Esplanade