by Andrea Davy
SISTERS Belinda and Sophie feel style and the outback go hand in hand.
They describe the rural women in their family as the kind of ladies who could be covered in dust all day but as wearing a slick of "lipstick to evening drinks on the veranda” at night.
The pair have now launched Longrass Style, an online clothing and homeware business currently being run from a remote cattle station situated on the Northern Territory and West Australian border.
Their website boutique boasts a range of items, from elegant linen shirts and funky leather stirrup necklaces to coffee cups and even vibrant patterned bean bags.
Belinda Rasheed is the co-manager of Legune Station, a cattle property running about 30,000 head, and younger sister Sophie lives in Katherine.
The pair's 20-year age gap helps them understand their buyers' needs - "from the girls in the jillaroos' quarters to the manager's wives”.
This week they caught up with the Rural Weekly to explain why two very busy ladies felt now was the time to make their mark on the fashion world.
How did Longrass Style start?
B We have been living in remote rural areas for a combined 30 years, but often travelling from Sydney, Brisbane, Mt Isa, Noosa, Tamworth, Blayney, Halls Creek, Kununurra... from the middle of nowhere to the centre of everywhere and back again. We found we were after particular wardrobe staples to glide between these places.
We really kicked into gear early this year following a magazine piece we did for a friend, Helen Groves, who is the chief editor of Territory Drafter. We took on the lifestyle story before we even registered the business name, it was like 'let's take a bite and chew like buggery!'
How would you sum up your own sense of style?
B I think with my 25 years living in rural NT and being a working mum I have a very practical and classic style. Things have to work for me and be useful and cost-effective but without sacrificing a bit of fun, glamour and perhaps even being a little bit sexy.
S I think we are pretty similar, although Belinda is going through a platform espadrille phase. I can't go past a good cut and quality fabrics. Knowing something will last is so important.
What's been the best thing about running a business with your sibling?
B Spending more time with my sister, though she may not agree. We both contribute different skills, which is great, but there can be a clash of opinions - luckily we are family, and we get over it pretty quickly.
Why did you call the business Longrass Style?
B For me the name Longrass Style is very simple. I have been surrounded by grasses for the past 20 years across cattle stations in the Northern Territory. Grass is special to me and holds a beauty of its own. A sunny day, the breeze is blowing the grass and it's gently swaying the paddock. It does not get any more beautiful than that. It is so clean, pure, honest, reassuring and brings joy to the people and the livestock that need it.
You are both busy ladies, what's your tip for other women who might be juggling family, work and a small business?
S Being focused and passionate about what you do is how you find success working full-time and running a business. If you're not honest and in love with what you do no one will believe you or your product.
What are the most challenging things about running a business from remote Northern Territory?
B The mail plane only comes once a week to the station!
Visit www.longrassstyle.com.au for more information.