Acton was born in Benalla, Victoria and educated at Firbank Anglican Girls' Grammar School in Melbourne. Between 1958 and 1962 she completed a Diploma of Art majoring in textiles at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
In 1963 she established her own fashion design business in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and by age 21 Acton was turning over 350 designs a year and selling an average of 1000 dresses a week through eighty outlets in Australia and New Zealand. As her fashion business took off, Acton also began to develop her own range of cosmetics to complement the range. In 1967 she became the first Australia female designer to mount a show of her own range of garments in New York. By 1982 the estimated world wide sales of her designs were $11 million with garments sold in Australia, Japan, USA, Canada and New Zealand and her designs made under licence in America, Japan and Germany.