FITTING TRIBUTE TO JOJO
SUNSHINE COAST FASHION STORE LAUNCHES COLLECTION IN MEMORY OF BELOVED FOUNDER JOANNE BRUCE, AS STAFF RALLY BEHIND DAUGHTER AND NEW BOSS, 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, JEM
THE vivid colours of a kaftan worn by the late Joanne “Jojo” Bruce will be immortalised in a fashion range launched in her honour.
Since Ms Bruce’s death in a horseriding accident in June, her 12-year-old daughter Jem has become the official boss of the growing JOJO brand.
Five silk garments in JOJO Noosa’s For Jojo collection are now on the shelves at the store’s four locations in Eumundi, Noosa Junction, Noosa Heads and Sunshine Plaza.
The pieces are the first of three ranges to be released in the coming weeks, business operations manager Maria Feutrill said.
“We were inspired by a beautiful photo that we all treasure after Jo’s sad passing,” Mrs Feutrill said.
“It’s a photo of her in India wearing a beautiful silk garment that she had found.
“I just thought it would be a lovely way of paying tribute to her, to reproduce that in a range.”
The silk range was made in India by a clothing manufacturer Ms Bruce had met in Sydney.
The fabric used in the tribute collection was recreated from the piece Ms Bruce had owned, and other designs were inspired by the original kaftan.
“There’s two gorgeous styles of long kaftans … all embellished with beautiful hand-applied jewels around the neckline,” Mrs Feutrill said.
Two shorter kaftans and a maxi dress completed the Indian silk collection.
Mrs Feutrill playfully described how the “JOJO tribe” wore the timeless kaftan, which she believed would never go out of style.
“These ones are really flattering in all shapes and sizes, which is really important to us, as our JOJO tribe is made up of all sorts of ladies,” she said.
“I’ve found that the younger ladies will tie up the long kaftan in a big knot or bunch it up on the side.
“I’ve seen them worn very elegantly over a classic-cut pant, with heels … and I’ve seen them floating along the beach with no shoes on at all.”
Jem has already put her stamp on the business, launching an online shopping platform that she had worked on with her mother. “I know it’s going to be very hard for her now and into the future,” Mrs Feutrill said.
“But I think she’s really very excited by seeing all these things her mum wanted to do come to fruition.”
The improved website would launch next month, Mrs Feutrill said.
Jem’s prominence in the business felt natural for the JOJO team, who always expected her to “take over the empire”, Mrs Feutrill said.
Jem was growing into her role at JOJO while studying at school, with the help of her dedicated father, Mrs Feutrill said.
“She’s got a wonderful sense of humour; she’s very much like her mum, cheeky and very funny,” she said.
“All of the ladies in the shop, as we were friends with Jo, we were all very close to Jem as well.”
The process of creating a tribute range for Ms Bruce helped Mrs Feutrill through her own grief, she said.
“For me, going there every day and working on both the continuation of the business and projects like this, has definitely proved to be very therapeutic,” she said.
“Especially, I know Jo’s wish of keeping this business alive and thriving for her beautiful daughter Jem — that’s really what drives me as well.
“We discussed it many times prior to her leaving us, and I have no doubt that this is what she wanted for her daughter.”
She happily recounted the feeling of opening the first box from the new range.
“When it arrived on Thursday, I couldn’t believe it — I was so emotional to see it there,” she said.
“These wonderful ideas that we’d all had transpired into something solid in front of us.
“It is very important for us to keep moving forward, because we may have lost Jo in the physical sense, but we all feel her with us every day.
“I feel that she would have been really proud of this happening. She would have found this really beautiful … and I think it’s why myself and all the management team are so proud of it all.”
The next two additions to the For JOJO range will be in stores mid-october, Mrs Feutrill said.
“It was important to us to involve all her friends … overseas,” she said.
“Everyone was her friend that worked for her overseas, in putting together this collection.”
HEARTFELT: Abbie Breckenridge wears a dress from JOJO'S For Jojo tribute collection at Noosa Main Beach.