Dare Jennings is the founder of Mambo clothing, the commercial clothing and textile manufacturing business he started in his backyard that grew into a worldwide company turning over $10 million annually with 22 stores around the world, projecting his vision of a different kind of Australia beyond the usual nationalistic cliches. As he was turning 50, Dare sold the business and was consumed by his newest passion: the red-hot, customised, detailed motorbikes, clothing and accessories of Deus Ex Machina.
After graduating from Yanko, Dare, arrived at Sydney University and soon dropped out. He taught himself how to screen print and eventually was able to produce a selection of t-shirts that celebrated several of his youthful enthusiasms (or 'distractions', like politics, surf, sex, drugs and rock and roll). This paid 'hobby' soon grew into a substantial business, and Mambo was born. Around this time Dare Jennings also opened Phantom Records, an independent import record store that eventually grew a recording arm that was to release debut records for some of Australia's soon-to-be major bands, including The Sunny Boys and Hoodoo Gurus.
Mambo's growth during the 80s was truly dramatic. Feeding off both Dare's and his friend's enthusiasm for surf, art, music and politics, Mambo quickly etched itself into Australia's consciousness and then just as quickly became recognised around the world for its originality and irreverent sense of humour.
Dare Jennings commissioned artists to reproduce their work on Mambo fabrics. The artists included a famous maker of ceramics and jewellery (Gerry Wedd), a pop star from the band Mental as Anything (Reg Mombassa) and a cartoonist (Matthew Martin). Their art featured surreal suburban landscapes populated by vomiting dogs, horned bulls, boxy fibro houses and Australian insects such as Bogong moths. Balmain High School in Sydney used a Mambo print for its school uniform in 1993.
One of Mambo's biggest successes was being included in the Sydney Olympic Games, with Mambo shirts chosen as part of the Australian team's uniform, and huge Mambo puppets paraded in the closing ceremony. As well as furniture and clothes, Mambo designs and graphics are mass produced on surfboards, surfbags, posters, CD covers and in ads.
Dare has always been a keen motorcyclist and in 2006 when visiting Japan was inspired to establish Deus Ex Machina, now doing for motorcycle culture what he previously did for surf culture.
Dare thrives on a challenge, particularly when it is hooked up with one of his idiosyncratic passions. He believes it is important to see innovation as a whole team effort, rather than the province of lone-wolves or particular departments. He stresses the commitment and willingness that is needed to free people up to do the work involved. His keynotes are very visual, his style self-deprecating, and the outcome truly inspiring.
Dare Jennings travels from New South Wales Australia
"Sandra, it has been DELIGHTFUL working with you."
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