as told to Laura Prior
Meet the master of minimalist style.
Sara Donaldson is the founder of the Australian fashion, style and beauty blog, Harper & Harley, known for its black, white and grey style philosophy. Sara also starred on E! reality TV show Fashion Bloggers and has recently launched online store The UNDONE, which offers women a selection of handpicked wardrobe essentials in Sara’s signature muted colour palette. With over half a million followers on Instagram, let’s take a look into the fast-paced life of one Australia’s top independent bloggers and discover her fashion picks for this season.
Congratulations on your engagement earlier this year! How did the proposal go down? Thank you, it has been a really lovely time for the two of us. It was very low key, we were out walking our dogs in the park overlooking Sydney Harbour. I was caught completely off guard, it was perfect.
In this issue of SA Style Magazine we chat with some of Adelaide’s Instagram Husbands, and they describe what life is like dating a blogger. Would you say your fiancé has taken on that role and how involved is he in what you do? He’s definitely not an Instagram Husband in the traditional sense of taking photos for me or anything like that. However, he has been incredibly supportive of my business from the get go and understands it. I’m truly grateful for that support.
How did it all start with your blog Harper & Harley, and how did you come up with the name? I started Harper & Harley when I was studying at university at just 19 years old (I’m 28 now) so its been quite a long run for H&H. I was captivated by blogs and really wanted to be part of the blogging community as I had a real love for the fashion industry and knew that was the career path I wanted to pursue. I was following blogs like Fashion Squad, Knight Cat, Le Fashion and a few others, and choosing the name was such a big decision, but in the end I simply chose names I liked. When helping people remember my blog, I refer to Harper, like Harper’s Bazaar and Harley, like Harley Davidson. Iconic and classic.
What was your experience like on the E! reality show Fashion Bloggers? It was an incredible opportunity and it’s one of those things I still cannot believe I was actually part of. It really helped propel our blogs internationally and when there are hundred of thousands of blogs you need to take advantage of opportunities like these, even though it was completely outside of my comfort zone.
You’ve also launched The UNDONE with a close friend of yours. How do you aim to be different from other online stores out there? I launched The UNDONE with my friend Georgia Martin in July last year off the success of Harper & Harley and knowing that I could convert traffic into sales through my platform. Georgia and I share a love for refined and elevated classics in an edited colour palette of blacks, whites, greys and neutrals and felt there was no one store that really catered to this. We also saw the shift move towards niche, boutique e-commerce stores, where it was about building a community and a strong brand identity. A place where shoppers could discover new labels, and a place they trust and that ‘understands’ them.
How big is the ‘Sara Donaldson’ team? Are you heavily involved in everything you produce or is there a collective behind the brand? Oh goodness, the Sara Donaldson team, is Sara Donaldson. I mean yes I have an incredible agency that looks after coordinating collaboration projects and I have a few wonderful photographers I like working with, but every word that is written on the Harper & Harley platforms has been written and uploaded by myself. My blog is still quite a personal space and I think my readers appreciate it more knowing that it’s still me producing the content.
As an established and successful blogger, where do you draw your style inspiration from? I have some go-to girls and friends I follow for a bit of style inspo – Lucy from Fashion Me Now and Marta from Life of Boheme. I also like Reese from Double 3xposure and Ilona Hamer and Elin Kling are always a good reference.
What are your essential winter wardrobe pieces for this coming season? I’m a sucker for turtlenecks and live in them during the colder months. Also classic jeans and leather pants are essential.
From the gorgeous looks you styled for us, what would you say is your favourite and why? Definitely the jeans and white shirt. This feels like me. These are also two pieces everyone should have in their wardrobe.
What’s your typical pieces for say, a casual lunch with friends/work buddies, and then a night out on the town? A casual lunch with friends would be jeans, a black or white top tucked in and earrings. A night out would be something off the shoulder perhaps, and in a mid length – nothing short.
You are also looked to for beauty inspiration, what five products can you not live without? I need my Kosmea rosehip oil, RMS Beauty ‘magic luminizer’ illuminator, Glossier ‘boy brow’ tinted brow gel, BareMinerals concealer, and Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream.
Quick Fire Questions
Describe your style in three words? Minimal, effortless, refined
Your ultimate star struck moment? Robert De Niro in NYC
Your favourite Disney love story? Beauty and the Beast
Dream holiday destination? Italy
Go-to karaoke song? Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Sneakers or flats? Sneakers
Best thing about being engaged? Knowing I’ve found my person
A hidden talent? Guessing weights of boxes and suitcases