Stephanie Cunningham & Bonfire the Label

Saturday, 26/08/2023 Posted by: Emily Heath

They’re bold and bright and bring joy to a room

Bonfire the Label is an international fashion label and is described as bursting with imagination, ambition and heart … It’s also an apt depiction for creative owner and 2001 Alumnae, Stephanie Cunningham.

The Mum of four young children and a “very proud Stuartholme girl” credits her time at school for inspiring her hard work ethic and artistic flair.

After living in the United States for a number of years, Stephanie came to Stuartholme in year 10 with what she describes as a “Southern drawl” which “amused” her friends.

Although the two environments couldn’t be more extreme, Stephanie describes how she felt when she first travelled through the sandstone gates, up the drive and around the corner towards the iconic main entrance …

“It was special. I felt like the minute that I arrived that I had been there my whole life.  I had an instant sense of connection.”

Stephanie said that she appreciates Stuartholme’s motto of “making yourself at Stuartholme”, saying that’s exactly what she experienced – she felt “at home”.

“It was a joyful and innocent time.  We were there to learn but we also had lots of fun and laughs.  It was a genuine sense of sisterhood – a benefit of the small size of the school.”

“There is a lot of creative energy up there … and a beautiful spirit.”

“All of my best friends are Stuartholme girls.  We are still each other’s ‘number ones’ and ‘go to’.”

Stephanie credits Mrs Mulhall as her favourite teacher and someone who was instrumental in building her creative confidence.

“I always felt in spite of how I performed academically, that it was important to have a strong moral compass and be a warm person, a good friend and a good daughter.  I hope that I have achieved that.” 

That social justice is something that Stephanie has applied to Bonfire the Label – aspiring for their unique, limited editions to be considered ‘keepsakes to future-proof our world’ and reduce the waste created by mass-produced fashion manufacturers.

Bonfire the Label’s ‘Sheroes Collection’, designed in support of theMater Chicks in Pink’ breast cancer support services is a testament to that.  Every October the label donates proceeds to invest in potentially life-saving health technology after her mother was diagnosed with the aggressive disease.

The fashion house has also partnered with Ecologi to fund almost 2,000 trees.

Stephanie said that Stuartholme really does live by the virtue of encouraging students ‘to be the best they can be’.

“That’s why I’ve enrolled my girls to start up there in a few years because I want them to be the beneficiaries of the same experiences that I had.

“I take them up there now for swimming lessons.  They call it ‘the special castle on the hill’.

“That’s the thing about Stuartholme.  It’s like a lighthouse – no matter where you are, you can see it.  It’s a very special place.”