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interiors

Lifestyle

My tips for surviving a reno

22nd February, 2021

Big or small, home renovations can be daunting. It’s such a period of upheaval that you want to make sure that you are well equipped to deal with what’s ahead. We recently underwent a home renovation at our apartment, tackling our living spaces and giving it a more updated, modern feel. While it wasn’t our entire place, it was still a big project to tackle and it required having a good plan to take us through the few months of being in reno mode. Having now gone through it firsthand, here are some of my biggest tips.

Work out what you want to achieve

For our reno, we knew we wanted an updated look and also to create more living space, and also to make better use of the areas we spent a lot of time in as a family. Having a clear idea of your vision is important to keeping the project on track.

Work out the main areas you want to update

I would have loved to have done our kitchen and living rooms and additional bits and pieces throughout our place, but for us, we decided to just focus (and put all our budget) on the living/dining and balcony area as that is the place where we spend most of our time as a family. 

Consider outsourcing

If you are not great at interiors and/or dont have the time to devote to searching for the right pieces, I highly recommend a stylist if you can fit that into your budget. We used an interior stylist and while they do charge a fee, you get industry rates for your purchases which can save a lot if you intend on buying lots of new pieces. Also our stylist really helped us work out exactly what we needed and helped us find cheaper options of what we liked if we couldn’t afford the exact look. 

Ask yourself if it’s your forever home

We knew that we wouldn’t be in our apartment forever so we opted not to do any built-ins. All our new cupboards and furniture can be taken with us. We would have loved a built-in TV unit and a built-in BBQ area but we left it and it ended up saving us a lot.

Don’t underestimate the impact of light cosmetic updates

It’s amazing how much new paint and carpet can lift a place. Sometimes you can work with what you have and not have to tear down walls or completely demolish a space—you can lift a space simply by just adding new soft furnishings.

Make the timings work for you

For minimal disruption I highly recommend planning around your calendar to ensure you’re not in the midst of a demo at inopportune times. For example we pushed back our reno so new carpet and paint could be done when we were away for school holidays and then the we booked in our furniture install when the kids were back at school so they weren’t waiting around all day every day. 

What are some of your tips when it comes to surviving a reno?

Lifestyle

How to refresh a space according to product designer and interior stylist Sarah Ellison

21st December, 2020
A sneak peek of Sarah’s design work in my home

If you’ve not yet spied product designer and interior stylist Sarah Ellison’s dreamy aesthetic then definitely scroll on over to her Instagram, because it’s interiors goodness a plenty. Not only that, Sarah’s eye for creating innovative pieces that can really make a room, will have you wanting to do a room makeover faster than you can say ‘refresh’.

I worked with Sarah on a project in my own home (reveal coming soon!) and saw her process up close and personal and know first hand how skilled she is at elevating a space and giving it an entirely new look and feel. So, if you’ve got your sights set in on room refresh in the new year (or maybe want to embark on something even more ambitious) read on for her sage advice and her tips for renovating.

What’s the first thing you do when embarking on a renovation project?

“Get excited about what’s possible!”

What are the major considerations to remember when renovating a space?

“Budget, it’s all in the planning. Make sure you have a good plan and budget in place before you get started. 

Also take in to consideration, where the home is located and make sure that is reflected within the design.”

What are the big mistakes to avoid when it comes to renovating a room?

“Not refining the style of the space and trying to add too many trends that aren’t related to the space or the people that live there.”

How can people ensure that their room is cohesive and works together?

“For me there should always be three key pieces within a space that all work harmoniously together. If you get those three pieces right then the rest should fall in to place. For Kate’s space it was the artwork, the sofas and the coffee table. They are all complementary but interesting in their own right.”

What are your tips for determining where pieces should go and the overall layout used

“For example, if we are talking about a living room— 

There are a few considerations and questions you need to ask yourself about a space when planning. There are the obvious considerations, such as the actual measurements and the practicalities of the space. But also, what kind of experience do you want to create?”

Are you creating a media zone where all the focus is on the television?

In which case you would choose an L or U-shaped sectional sofa. 

Or are you creating a family space to accommodate different sized members of the family? You could choose a 3-seater and 2 comfy lounge chairs. 

Is it an entertaining space for conversation? Something like two 3-seaters facing one another and 2 lounge chairs would suit. 

Or is it a room with an amazing view that needs to be celebrated? Something [such as a sofa] with a low back profile perhaps? 

By asking these questions you can narrow down the style of the furniture that you need to purchase but you are also answering questions on the layout of the living room furniture at the same time.”

Where do you get your interiors inspiration from?

“Mostly my inspiration is international and then I like to add my own flavour. I take inspiration from history, fashion and nature.”

What’s your favourite part of doing a room renovation?

“The end result. I love a before and after!” 

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Storage tips for kids’ bedrooms

8th November, 2020
Ample storage is key to a kids’ bedroom

As anyone with kids can attest, children have a tendency to accumulate a lot of stuff. From books to toys and clothing, the sheer volume of things required by little ones is immense and can sometimes feel like it’s taking over the entire house. Which is why storage is so important. Having plenty of places to store things is key for maintaining order in a household (this is definitely the case at our place) and is also a great way to help teach kids about tidying up after themselves.

Sophia and Grace now share a bedroom which means we have to organise double the belongings so I was on the hunt for a storage system that looked nice but was also really practical. So when I teamed up with Pottery Barn Kids to trial their Cameron low storage system in the girls’ room it got me in the mood to organise their space. In the process, here are some things I’ve learned…

Regularly declutter

It’s worth getting into the habit of decluttering regularly. Doing an edit of all the girls’ things allowed me to identify things that they had outgrown or no longer needed and this in turn freed up a lot of space to store the things they are currently using.

Think about how the space is being used

Take the time to look at how the space is being utilised. For example, which toys need to be within easy reach? What books do they keep coming back to? What clothes are always on high rotation? This will give you a place to start and will help you determine what will go where.

Make everything within easy reach

If you want to encourage your kids to help with tidying up then it’s important to make everything easy to reach. I love the Cameron storage system for this reason because all the shelves, cabinets and baskets are all readily accessible which means the girls can put everything away once they’re done.

The more types of storage the better

I’m a huge fan of having as many different kinds of storage as possible. Open baskets are great for storing things that are always used and need to be accessible (or put away quickly). I love cabinets for hiding things away that we may not necessarily want on display or use often. While shelves and little cubby holes are perfect for everything from housing books to toys and showing off various trinkets and decorations.

Consider storage systems that will work with your house

I’ve always liked any kids’ furniture in our house to go with the rest of our decor. Anything white and in a simple design has always been our go-to. I think this allows for a little more cohesion in the home and will also make storing the kids’ things just a part of your home’s interiors as opposed to something that sticks out. Also, classic designs will mean that your furniture will grow with your kids and can be utilised in bedrooms at any age, or alternatively reworked into another part of the home.

I like having multiple types of storage to cater for everything from toys to clothes and books
Utilise things like bookshelves and hat stands to not only store things but make them a feature of the room
Cubby holes make for a great place to display decorations or storing belongings
Utilise floating shelves or a bedside table for displaying trinkets or housing favourite items
You can never have too many storage options! Consider adding mini shelving on existing drawers or bookshelves
Do a tight edit of things that you want to display then put away the rest to avoid the room looking too cluttered

This post was produced in collaboration with Pottery Barn Kids

Fashion, Lifestyle, Shop

The one thing I always have in my home

24th October, 2020

JM_458

Candles aplenty at the Jo Malone “Just Because” dinner I hosted earlier this year

If there’s one thing my house is never without it’s a beautifully scented candle. I love having one burning in the background as there’s something quite luxurious about a gorgeous fragrance filling up your home (note: this is why I always have one burning when I have visitors over). A candle also adds warmth to any space which makes it a simple way to decorate a room. There’s no shortage of wonderful candles out there. And there’s definitely one to suit every taste and budget.

Check out some of my top picks below…

Tip: Candles usually come poured into a perfectly re-usable glass or metal jar so when you’ve used one up be sure to repurpose its home; you can use it for everything from a makeup brush holder to a vase.

To clean out the jar simply pop it in the freezer so the wax hardens. Once frozen take it out and scrape out the excess wax and wick which should leave you with an empty jar. If you’re removing the label, using a hairdryer, blast hot air over the jar to melt the glue, peel off the label then run it under hot water to clean off the sticky residue.

Lifestyle

The beginner’s guide to indoor plants with The Plant Society’s Jason Chongue

1st October, 2020

Whether it’s falling in love with a greenery-filled home, are wanting to spruce up your space or the fact you just want to brighten up your work desk a little more, we all have our reasons for bringing indoor plants into our lives. Keeping them alive is another story!

If you weren’t born with a green thumb and have been prone to killing even the hardiest of cacti in the past, then you’ll be happy to hear that there is a way to keep plants in your home thriving.

“There are so many reasons for having plants in your home. Not only do they purify the air we breathe, but they also bring a sense of life indoors. When it comes to styling your home, plants make affordable pieces that evolve and ground themselves in your home,” says Jason Chongue, architect, interior designer and co-founder of The Plant Society.

So before you start introducing some new green friends into your home, read this guide first, on how to care for indoor plants.

What are the major considerations when it comes to what indoor plants to introduce into one’s home?

“If you are living in an apartment or small space, gardening in small spaces can instantly bring life to your urban environment. Before you head out to your local nursery it is important to plan.

My tips for small space gardening are:

  • Observe the light on offer in the location you are wanting to grow your plants. Always think about the intensity and duration of the light on offer.
  • Be honest with the amount of care and conditions the plants will receive. If you receive harsh lighting on a balcony, you may want to consider drought tolerant plants such as Olive tree (Olea europaea) and Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe).
  • Try not to overcrowd small spaces with too many plant types. In small spaces choose two to five species and repeat these in your space. 
  • Play with texture. Use simple flat foliage with heavily textured fine foliage. Using plants like Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa) and Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis) can create interest and depth.
  • Always cluster plants in odd numbers with a range of sizes and heights.”

How much light do indoor plants actually need?

“The amount of natural light each plant requires will be dependent on where the plant originated from. It is always good to research whether a plant naturally grows in an arid, tropical or even Mediterranean environment and try to match this with conditions in your home. If you find you don’t have similar conditions, it would be better to choose plants that will thrive in your conditions.”

What are some of the easiest indoor plants to care for those who are beginners?

Indoor plants I’d recommend to those starting out I’ve nicknamed ‘Ice breaker’ plants. These are Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). These plants can adapt to a range of lighting levels and even teach you how to garden.” 

The monstera deliciosa is a great ‘ice breaker’ plant

What are some of the hardier plants to own if someone has not had much luck with keeping plants alive in the past?

“This will be dependent on the natural lighting conditions on hand but much like a beginner gardener try Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) indoors and if you’re wanting hardy plants for outdoors explore using cacti and succulents.”

What are some of the big mistakes people often make when it comes to caring for indoor plants?

“New plant enthusiasts often choose a plant purely on aesthetic rather than by the natural light they require. It is important to assess the natural light on offer in your space and select a plant accordingly. When it comes to plants, they all have different requirements, if you can best match the plant to the light conditions in your home then you will be off to a good start.

Secondly poor-quality potting mix can lead to a range of watering problems. Always use a premium grade potting mx so that your plants have a good balance and source of nutrients.”

Choose a day of the week to check on your plants

What are the basics when it comes to keeping indoor plants alive and thriving?

“When it comes to indoor plants the best advice is to ensure you nurture your plants regularly. Choose a day of the week when you aren’t typically busy and spend this time checking the soil and foliage of all your plants. This will help you understand if they require watering or specific care. Make sure to also observe under the foliage to monitor any pests which might have made themselves at home.”

How can you tell when a plant needs watering and when to leave it alone?

“Make sure to water your plants regularly. The best way to check if your plants are ready for a water, is to use your finger to check that the top inch of soil mixture is dry before watering. If it feels dry, it’s time for a water.

In the warmer months your plants will require adequate watering to sustain them through the warmer weather. In the cooler months, your plants require less water. Make sure to ease up on watering, by watering less frequently.

Don’t allow your plants to sit in water as this can lead to root rot.”

How long do indoor plants generally last?

“With the right care, plants can outlive us. I’ve had many plants passed on to me and have many plants I started growing when I was 10. Some plants have a shorter life span however some plants can live long lives.”

Lifestyle

How to style a bedroom that will grow with your child

27th September, 2020

Styling a beautiful, cosy nursery is often one of the things expecting parents love to do in preparation for the arrival of their little one. However as most mums and dads can attest babies grow very quickly into toddlers then school-aged kids and in turn their once perfect space can become too young and will need updating frequently.

Designing a new room each time your child gets older can become a costly experience so it pays to instead start from the very beginning and create a space that can easily grow with him/her. With the help of Kristy Withers, founder of children’s furniture retailer Incy Interiors and Magdalene Liacopoulos, interiors stylist and founder of By Magdalene, here’s how to design the perfect kids bedroom that will adapt with age…

Gather all your visual references for a kids bedroom

“The first step when designing a kids room is pulling together all your inspiration images and visual references of furniture and decorator pieces, as this will reveal the style and colour combinations you are drawn to,” says Magadalene. It is during this process that Magdalene says that it’s important to consider trends versus classic design, what is actually achievable in the space, and what will grow with your child and your family.

Invest in key features like furniture

The furniture in your child’s room should be able to grow with them so think beyond the baby stage and look for pieces that can grow with your little one. Kristy says, “it’s important to select versatile pieces of furniture that will adapt to each stage of development, such as Incy Interiors’ Teeny cots which features rounded corners and sturdy, removable sculptured side rails that can be transformed into a ‘big bed’ as baby grows.”

To avoid a cluttered space Magdalene says storage is always a sound investment. “Pick a set of drawers that can be used as a change table by adding a topper. Also think about whether these drawers can work in another area of the home if they need to be relocated down the track.”

Also don’t forget about the lighting in your child’s room. Magdalene says it’s important to be able to control lighting (nap time is one such occasion) so “splurging on the right window coverings for your space will be money well spent.”

Image: Incy Interiors

Avoid themes

A jungle-themed nursery might be a cute idea for the first few months but it has a limited shelf life. “Having a ‘themed’ kids bedroom will date quickly so select pieces that with a little rearrangement could easily transition onto the next phase in your child’s life,” says Magdalene. “For example opt for a simple wall shelf (my favourite are by H and G Designs) over a Batman-themed one, and create a ‘shelfie’ where items are interchangeable as your child’s tastes evolve.”

Keep it neutral

A room that will grow with your child should essentially be a blank canvas that can be updated with a few key components so Kristy says a neutral colour palette is advisable as “you can subtly or dramatically change the room by adding accessories like throws and pillows which will completely change the dynamic of the space.”

Most importantly a kids bedroom should be a conducive space for rest. Both Magdalene and Kristy agree that a clean, streamlined space is preferable to filling a room with lots of decorative elements or working with bold, bright colours or feature walls to avoid overstimulating children and provide them with a calm space to sleep.

Choose pieces that have a long lasting purpose

Your child will likely have an extensive book collection as he/she grows up so Magdalene says a set of bookshelves is something that can easily work in a space no matter how old they get. She suggests taking it up a notch and creating a dedicated reading nook. “By adding a seat or floor cushion (Australian brand Little Connoisseur  have a cute range of floor cushions) it will be a comfy spot for storytime before bed, and as your child grows, a space where he or she can have their own quiet time.”

Magdalene say other elements that can work as your child gets older are things like baskets which are great for housing everything from nappies and toys to dirty laundry and will transition easily through the infant to toddler phase. Art prints (especially illustrations) are also an inexpensive way to decorate and are a classic and timeless addition to any bedroom.

Think beyond the room

It may be hard to imagine now but further down the track your child will want to decorate their own space so it’s important that things like furniture are able to be rehoused elsewhere in the home. Kristy highlights the new Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker [below] as a great example of a piece that can be repurposed. “[It] features a clean silhouette and squared sofa shape that is a drastic departure from the traditional wingback nursing chair commonly associated with nursery rooms,” she says. “Available in blush or navy it features tapered legs in shiny rose gold to help create a modern day nursing chair with a design sophistication that will eventually grow up and out of the baby’s room to join you in the lounge.”

Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker (RRP is $1,299).

Fashion

How to create a stylish and functional nursery

24th August, 2020
Get the basics right and enhance the room with decorative flourishes

As the founder of premium baby and children’s furniture brand Incy Interiors, if there’s one thing Kristy Withers is well versed in, it’s how to create a stylish and functional nursery. In the early days, there’s so much time spent in the nursery changing, feeding and putting baby to sleep that it has to be a place you love being in. And with endless inspiration for nurseries available, it’s important to know the difference between a simply Insta-worthy space and one that’s actually practical and useable in real life. Enter Kristy, who is sharing her go-to tips for not only creating a gorgeous nursery, but one that’s designed to make day-to-day life with your newborn easier.

What are the most important things to consider before styling a nursery?

“The first thing I look at when designing a room is to understand what space you have to work with. What is the floor space, how high are the walls, where are the windows and doors located. This is really important to understand upfront to save a costly purchase down the track.”

What are some of the key essentials in a nursery?

“The absolute essentials for any nursery are a cot, change table and nursing chair. You spend most of those early months either feeding, changing or getting them to sleep (and staying asleep) so choosing these pieces wisely is so important.”

What are your tips for creating a great space on a budget?

“Great design doesn’t need to be expensive. Rather than painting walls you can create an amazing space with inexpensive removable wall decals, which is also a great option for renters. Buying prints rather than originals is a great way to create interest on the walls without spending a fortune. Another one of my favourite tips is to buy beautiful wooden toys that can double as decoration as well as a plaything, saving money and the environment.”

Kristy says choosing quality furniture is important

What are some things that perhaps aren’t entirely necessary in a nursery to start with?

“A bassinet is not a must-have but it was so helpful for me. It meant the baby was right next to me for middle of the night feeds and I could move it around with me throughout the day. I also deliberately left both of my children’s nurseries bare and then I purchased accessories such as toys, books and decorations as their little personalities started to show. This meant that their rooms were more of a reflection of them rather than me.”

What are some nursery design trends you’re seeing right now?

“I have been doing this for 10 years now and it has been so interesting seeing how nursery design has changed over that time. When we first started, nurseries were navy and red or yellow and grey. As general tastes have changed so have the nursery design trends. Mid-century is becoming much more popular.”

What are some of your best tips for maximising storage?

“Storage is something you can never have too much of. Always look for a change table with inbuilt storage as well as one that converts once you are done with it as a change table. All of our Incy change tables either convert to a dresser or a bookcase so that they can be used for years to come. Other great storage options are ottomans, toy boxes and storage baskets.”

Minty Magazine CoLab Styled by Madeline McFarlane Photography by Francoise Baudet

What are some of your fave design flourishes for nurseries?

“I feel so lucky to do what I do as children’s nurseries/bedrooms are the one space in the home where you can really experiment with things and have a bit of fun. I’m a huge fan of textures so I love mixing various fabrics and finishes. Leather, velvets and metallics are my absolute favourites right now. Mixing the three can create a feeling of warmth and luxury at the same time.”

What are the splurge and save items in a nursery? What should people invest in and what are some things they can afford to scrimp on?

“I always feel biased saying this but I am a big believer in spending as much as you can afford on good quality furniture, it can them be passed down through multiple children and my ultimate goal is for the furniture we are producing right now to be handed down to our children’s children. The items I tend to save on are the accessories. There are so many amazing Australian brands right now producing beautiful linen, artwork, toys and accessories. If you save on the accessories you can then swap them out for the next baby or when transitioning to a toddler/big bed.”

Lifestyle, Shop

Luxe home buys for less than $150

24th July, 2020

Want to update your home? It doesn’t require having to spend a fortune. Given we’re all spending more time at home these days, it’s not uncommon to start looking at things with a more critical eye and seeing where different areas might need updating. Doing so however doesn’t mean having to make big changes— you can often change up a space by making simple, cosmetic tweaks. And one of the best ways to do that is with a handful of great accessories.

I’ve always found small updates can be really impactful. Adding a beautiful vase of flowers around your home or creating a stack of gorgeous coffee table books or updating the cushions on the sofa can all work together to freshen up a room. You can also work new pieces within your existing decor, moving things around to create new combinations that can instantly make a tired room feel brand new.

So, if you’re in the mood to spruce up a space, here are a few great pieces to consider.

Lifestyle

My tips for decorating a home when you have kids

15th February, 2020

As most people with kids will attest, decorating a home comes with its own new considerations once little ones enter the picture. Everything from sticky fingers being wiped down on the couch to trying to grab everything in sight means that you have to take these things into account with your colour scheme, your furniture and home decors. Of course, having older children gives you a little more freedom to decorate as you wish but when it comes to younger kids, this is what I’ve learned…

Go for colours that camouflage

Most of our home features slightly darker earthy tones such as brown or beige which I find hides dirt a little better. Also our carpet has greys and beiges in it and our outdoor furniture is navy so both hide dirt quite well.

Go for durable fabrics

I have friends who have white couches and small kids and I honestly don’t know how they do it. We have a couch made from a durable earthy toned fabric and the pillows are made from quite a similar material so this helps to avoid the couch looking worse for wear. When it comes to the furniture in our home everything is quite neutral and quite durable so I always consider those things when I’m buying anything for the house.

Invest in baskets

I never used to have baskets around the house but now I love them as they’re great for storing (or hiding!) things like toys and pillows in a hurry. This is a lifesaver when guests pop around unexpectedly and I need to quickly tidy the house.

Do a big edit of ornaments

I still like having decorative bits and pieces around the house but I’ve done a big edit so I only have the pieces I really love dotted around our home. This makes it easier to keep track of them as the girls are quite curious and love picking things up and playing with them.

I like to do a tight edit of ornaments but find gallery walls to be a great way to liven up a space, but is out of the way from little hands

Choose neutral kids’ furniture

We live in an apartment so the kids’ space is our space so I feel like the kids’ stuff has to blend in with our stuff. I find children’s furniture can be really bright which tends to stick out a lot so we try to get furniture that is neutral so we’ll get white or blonde wood rather than bold colours such as reds, blues or greens.

Think like a kid

Ultimately kids will be kids so you have to take that into account whenever you’re buying/arranging anything in the home. So look around your home and see it from their eyes. For example I would position delicate things somewhere that’s a little more out of the way and not right in the middle of where the girls tend to play a lot. Now that the girls are older it’s a little bit easier, but it’s always important to think about what things are made of because for example something made of glass is definitely more prone to something made of wood.

Lifestyle

Girlboss Q&A: Bethany James, Founder James Said

11th July, 2018

Businesswoman Bethany James started her first company as child, selling stones, sticks and nuts that she’d spray painted gold to her neighbours. In her twenties she founder her own cosmetics company, Bethany Cosmetics. And now, after struggling to find the kind of furniture she wanted in her work as an interior designer, she started an import business called Regency Distribution. Since then the Perth-based entrepreneur now has three showrooms, James Said, with two in Perth and one in Sydney and now has over 3000 pieces available for purchase on its online store. Here Bethany shares the secrets to her success, learning to let go of wanting to control every aspect of her business and why the drive to work is the most important part of her day.

Where did the idea to start James Said come from?

I was working as an interior designer and I had a specific style that I loved. I couldn’t find the pieces that I wanted in Australia and had to look overseas to find them. I identified a niche in the market so I set up a distribution company and started to import.

What was the process like to start it?

It was very challenging. I had a toddler at home and started the business in my spare room with very little initial start up capital. Juggling motherhood and new business was very hard. I would work most evenings until 2am – simply because I would be child free and able to get it done.  The start-up of my business was completely organic because I had no money for marketing.  In fact when I started I didn’t even have a single piece of furniture! All I had was catalogues and lot of pretty images. I started off as a wholesale business exclusive to interior designers. I went through the designers in the yellow pages online and email them all, one by one, introducing myself. It took me months, but this is how I built my database and started my company. On my own, in my spare room, working to the early hours of the morning. I pre-sold my first container that I imported and the deposits I received covered most of the cost. Even with such a modest beginning I still managed to turnover over a million in sales in first year. Our growth now is snowballing every year, whilst I take it in my stride each day, it amazing to look back on each year to see how far we’ve come.

What’s the biggest business challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Growing fast without adequate systems. We were unprepared for our growth and didn’t have adequate software to assist us. The result was poor service and unreliable lead times. It feels great to have this sorted. When I look at my business now I continually think – how can I do this better? How  can I exceed my customers’ expectations in all areas of my business. From the range of products, to my sales staff and the customer experience in store all the way through to our delivery service.  What would exceed my customers experience—and that’s what I do.

What’s been the biggest turning point in your career? Why?

Staff. When I originally started to employ staff, they were of little help to me because I was so protective of everything. I wouldn’t delegate, I just didn’t trust anyone to do the job as well as myself.  I was afraid of the commitment of full time salaries so instead kept employing casuals. The result was that my staff were of no assistance to me and I was at capacity so the business couldn’t grow. In the third year of my business was my turning point. I decided to invest all my energy into my staff and delegating everything. The more I put into them the more I freedom I had to grow the company. I now only employ full time staff, almost never casuals. My business moves so fast that I need team members that are fully absorbed in the company each day. I take the time to understand what drives each individual staff member so that I can make sure that their time with the company allows them to feel secure and fulfilled.

James Said focuses on Hollywood Regency style pieces

How do you start each day?

I try to swivel out of bed and have my feet touch the carpet as soon as my alarm goes off, otherwise I end up in the ‘hit the snooze’ cycle.  Then it’s an expresso shot while google home tells me the latest news. Then I spend the next half hour with my coffee browsing social media.

Once out of bed and showered I listen to inspiration podcasts or YouTube videos whilst I do my make up and get ready. Mixed into that I get my son ready for school, fed and we’re out the door. My most valuable time is the drive between school and work. This is my time and use it to ensure that when I arrive into the office I am in the right state.

My energy affects everyone in the office so I make sure that when I walk in I bring high energy vibes with me. During that drive my car is my sanctuary, sometimes I listen to Oprah other times I just crank the music loud, but the outcome is always to leave any negativity behind me so I when I arrive at the office all my staff can feed off my energy.

What drives you?

For me my business is like a sport. Obviously its serious because I employ people and it’s my livelihood but when I dig deeper, I’m driven by pushing to see how far I can take the business.  I am never satisfied with any milestone, I’m always on the next step. I never want to wonder —what if? So I just go for it,  I give it everything I have, every day. I relate it sport because each day I’m faced with new issues or problems I have to solve and overcome, all whilst persevering forward all the time, always feeling challenged. I love it.

What’s your management style?

I know its probably wiser to have a barrier between yourself and your staff, however I’ve never been able to have that separation. I’ve always been the kind of person that brings my personal life to the office and so I develop friendships with my staff. We have a lot of fun, a lot of laughs but we also work very hard. I really consider my staff as my team, I value and care about  them enormously. Finding staff that are the right cultural fit  is an important part of our recruitment process.

What are some tools—whether it be a gadget, an app, a favourite site— that help you manage all your various businesses and projects?

Changing my inventory software was huge for my business. It streamlined everything, made us more efficient and we were able to offer better service to our customers.

As far as apps go Instagram has been a huge part of our growth. It’s how we connect with our customers and drives more customers to my stores than any other marketing source.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

Being brave and consistently persevering through challenging times.  I also have unending energy for my business.  I don’t know where it comes from but it’s just always there. I never run out of new ideas or passion year after year.  I guess if that ever stops that will be my que to move on to something else.

What makes you so passionate about interiors?

I always want to make everything as beautiful as possible. It crosses over into all areas of my life. I need to have a creative outlet to be happy, it’s just a part of me. My interior style is always evolving, I find inspiration everywhere and it’s a great feeling when you create a space that is unique that people respond to.

Bethany says she loves interiors as she “wants to make everything as beautiful as possible.”

What’s the most satisfying thing about working on James Said?

I love sitting in the driving seat of my business because it gives me the freedom to create the next step for the business. Its enormously gratifying to have an idea and take it all the way to fruition.

Where do you hope to take your business in future?

I plan for James Said to be an international brand. I would love stores all over the world.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

To be authentic. When I launched my business I was doing my own thing. I was laughed at by many of my competitors for selling bright coloured and gold furniture. But I followed my heart and it was immediately successful. From time to time I would look to what my larger competitors were selling and copy. This was never successful.

Now I really don’t pay any attention to my competitors, I just run my own race and sell what resonates with me. I don’t visit other stores in Australia, or check their websites. I don’t want to be influenced in any way and I feel that there’s room for everyone.

Even when I opened my Sydney store, I didn’t visit any other Sydney stores. I wanted my store to be completely fresh and unique, I didn’t want to risk being influenced by what other stores are doing in any way.

What’s your working style? 

I juggle my day with the school run so I’m grateful to have to have staff that can open and close the business. As my business opens at 7am to sync up with the east coast [of Australia], by the time I arrive I’m already behind so most of the day is spent catching up and I’m caught up the day to day running of the business. My true productive time is late at night after my son is asleep. This is when I have clarity to think with out interruption. Anything important is done at this time.

My best creative moments are usually when I travel. International travel always leaves me with a broader and larger view on business.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone starting a business?

I often have conversations with people who tell me they have thought about starting their own business and they ask me for advice.

Starting your own business is hard, it’s financially risky and will most likely leave you without income for quite a while. I discover most people aren’t really prepared for that kind of risk or commitment.

Starting your own business has to be something that you just have to do. It’s not a decision to do, you have to do it. It’s that kind of passion that’s needed to live and breathe the business year after year. If you have that passion then you have to just be brave!

Being an entrepreneur is just part of who I am. When I was a kid I stole my dad’s gold spray paint and sprayed stones, sticks and honkey nuts and then sold them to all my neighbours. When I was a teenager I made earrings and sold them at school. In my twenties I had my cosmetics company. It’s just part of who I am but it’s not for everyone.