In the beginning…
Sunshine Barossa was born in 2016 when owner and founder, Carol Dadds, discovered a trunk filled with beautiful hides and leather working tools at her mother’s home. Carol’s relationship with leather and hides, however, began much earlier in her life and goes back three generations. It began with her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, who worked as a tailor creating leather handbags and commissioned pieces for the wealthy. Carol grew up on a horse stud and she has vivid memories of her father teaching her how to braid and plait leather strips used to make bridles, halters, and the like for the horses.
Not long after stumbling across the leather filled trunk, Carol had a casual but fortuitous conversation with a business client. This client confided in her a mutual passion for leather and commented that ‘to sew leather every day’ would be a dream come true. A design and a hide were given to this gifted lady, and a beautiful bespoke leather bag was created and from this bag, Sunshine Barossa Australia was born. This amazing friend and leather seamstress is with Sunshine Barossa Australia still to this day.
Why the Barossa Valley?
Carol has lived in the Barossa Valley for the past 35 years, so when she started her leather business, it was always going to be in the Barossa, the place she and her twin boys call home. Carol continues to be amazed by the support and encouragement she receives from the local community, now and especially in the early days of Sunshine Barossa. The Barossa Valley is a hub for many creative souls including winemakers, artisan food producers, chefs, jewellers, and artists of all kinds. Premium quality, bespoke and handcrafted items are both appreciated and sought after, and this matched perfectly with Carol’s desire to create luxurious leather goods. The Barossa is also an endless source of inspiration for Carol, with its unique and beautiful environment and its colour palette, ever changing, with the seasons.
From that very first bag created, Carol knew that leather was what she loved and wanted to predominantly create with. It’s the uniqueness of each hide that draws her to this organic medium, along with its tactile qualities and durability. As leather is a natural product, each hide has its markings and scars. Carol believes these imperfections tell the story of the hide, much like our own scars and imperfections form part of our story. Carol seeks to champion these individual characteristics in every Sunshine Barossa piece, working to preserve the leather’s authenticity and retain its story. With Carol personally sourcing and selecting every single hide, and playing an active role in the design, trial, and production process of each piece, she ensures the consistent quality that has become Sunshine Barossa Australia’s signature.
From Carol searching for the different types and best leathers to use for each product, strong trusting relationships were born. All leather is sourced as a by-product of the food industry. These relationships are not only in South Australia with the leather wholesalers frequently visited but also overseas. Different countries are known best for different types of leathers and they will now tan these hides in the style/colours she loves.
Most tanneries in Australia have been closed down due to the over usage of water needed for the lengthy process.
Carol's favourite leathers come from Whanganui (New Zealand), Java (Indonesia) and Pokharpur (India).
"Every product design has a need for different leather strengths, characteristics and longevity therefore using different types of leather is extremely important" says Carol.
Over time liaison with these contacts grew stronger, language barriers were concurred, designs were discussed, perfected and their own sewing skills proved to Carol using the leathers of her choice from their country they could handcraft exactly the standard to Sunshine Barossa Australia's expectations. Carol having to push past that barrier of letting go and allowing other cultures input, with their sewing skills and pattern making from her designs, these collaborations are a strong part of the growing range today and are now a part of the Sunshine Barossa's tribe of creators.
In 2022 Sunshine Barossa Australia is a thriving small business. With a gorgeous studio that is open to the public (in the town of Stockwell in the Barossa Valley), an ever-growing customer base, and numerous corporate clients, Carol has created a label that is respected and sought after both in the Barossa and around Australia.