This month has been super busy, but also very exciting for us! We were extremely honoured to be asked to speak at Business Chicks 9 to Thrive Expo in Sydney. In all honesty it was a bit surreal as it was only last year that we attended the same event, and left feeling really re-energised and inspired to keep working towards our business goals, and now we were being asked to share our experiences with others. In the lead up to the event, we were asked some questions for the 9 to Thrive blog, and as we sat down together to write the answers, it was a good chance for us to reflect on our passion for design, the effects of being on reality tv, balancing motherhood, and being sisters in business. We have included this interview as our feature blog as we feel that it gives a bit more insight into what drives us, and what makes us who we are. Enjoy the read!
Congratulations on your new website and art and rug collections. What do you enjoy working on the most?
We love it ALL! Diversity is really important to us, and our new website reflects on all the projects and collaborations that we are currently working on. There is no favouritism with our projects; we love what we’re working on at the time we are working on it. That’s because every design project or collaboration (rugs, artwork) offers a solution to everyday life’s design struggles (yes, the struggle is real-haha).
Our artwork and our guide to choosing art, for example, has helped hundreds of customers and clients take the guesswork out of a very important aspect of decorating. The most satisfying part of working on our artwork collaborations is that we are working with emotion. Every piece of art evokes a different feeling; and who could get tired of that?
Similarly, our new range of rugs reflects a design aesthetic that is appealing, and reflective of current design directions. We’ve had customers spending weeks trying to find the right rug, and in a busy world that can be time taxing. Aside from being involved in the curating and design of our collections, solving this problem for our clients gives us enormous satisfaction.
What are the hardest lessons you learnt working on The Block?
All lessons are good lessons, but some appear to be harder than others depending on where you’re at with life.
- Honouring who you are is something we’ve always believed in, however, television can really present vulnerable aspects of one’s persona, and this is the defining moment where you either choose to be yourself 100% or sacrifice part of that so you can be liked. From day one our choice was clear. All in, with nothing but authenticity. For us, this included being naturally competitive, which at times was portrayed unfavourably but it never jeopardised our authenticity in any way.
- Letting go of control to achieve your goals and to reach your desired destination; boy was this a hard one. It’s easier said than done, but we’ve learnt that surrendering control can be a wonderful thing to do. It opens up the space for unexpected opportunities.
- Don’t compare someone else’s chapter 20 with your chapter 1. Celebrities and experts we’ve come to trust all started as students; as amateurs, so asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Ask until you understand; practice until you fully master it!
- Things will happen, maybe not immediately but eventually; and that’s ok. When you want something real bad, time can seem like an eternity. Our time at the Block and through our own business has reinforced the fact that there are no overnight successes. You gotta work for what you want, end of story!
- Failure ‘IS’ an option. We live in a failure-phobic world…people are too afraid to try things in case they fail. So what if they fail? What people don’t notice is that for every success we’ve enjoyed it has come through a string of mini failures. Our advice is to embrace it all, learn and move on quickly. Failure is valuable.
What’s the best way we can redecorate when renting?
START WITH WALL COLOUR. because it delivers a great decorative impact and can completely transform your home. You’d be surprised to know that your landlord could be over the moon if you’re willing to update their wall colour and handle the painting yourself. (Always seek their permission of course, and remember that lighter hues are easier to change if you move out).
COVER UP DRAB CARPETS. Bring your flooring to life or cover updated carpets with the addition of a rug. Not only will you introduce colour, but a rug will also help you to better define a zone.
BRING THE OUTSIDE IN. Introduce indoor plants that will help keep your home atmosphere naturally filtered, and can add interesting textures. Our favourites? Fig leaf trees and mother in law tongues which are low maintenance and practically un-killable.
ACCESSORISE. Think candles, throws, cushion, stacks of coffee table books. Accessories add visual interest and in many ways represent you.
ARTWORK, OF COURSE. You can amplify your interiors by introducing some wall eye-candy. A gorgeous piece of artwork that really speaks to you, can not only transform your space, but also the way you feel. And if you move? No problems, the artwork comes with you.
How can we give our office a fresh look/makeover?
Your approach to your work is in direct relationship with how you feel in the space you work in – understanding this is key.
CLEAR THE CLUTTER. It’s bad for your energy, your creativity, and clutter adds to your stress. Decide to clear it and start fresh. Only keep what serves you and aim to have a paperless office.
CHANGE YOUR WALL COLOUR. The psychology of colour, is huge when we consider mood, productivity, and energy. Don’t be afraid to change and freshen up those tired beige walls.
MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR WALLS. Not only will you be saving space but properly accessorised shelving can be quite ornamental.
ADD SOFT AND EARTHY TOUCHES. The common misconception that offices are deserving of traditional office furniture is so last decade. Add indoor plants, replace plastic waste bins with natural wicker baskets, and add elements that make you feel at home.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, ADD SOME DESK BLING. Get rid of that old plastic stapler that always chews up your staples, or that ugly looking hole puncher. Invest in beautiful desk accessories in gold, white, or transparent finishes that will add a uniform feel and instant bling to your desk. You are worthy of beautiful notebooks and pens too, and don’t you forget it!
What about renovating on a budget? What are some of your best tips?
AVOID DESIGN SNOBBERY. Designer and expensive is not always ideal for a renovation. Choosing comparable tiles from a wholesaler could save you thousands and still deliver a great result. Review all your options and choose wisely dependant on your budget.
GET PLENTY OF QUOTES. Hiring tradies requires a bit of research, and generally speaking three quotes always reveal the beast value tradie, but if the budget is tight, we recommend shopping around for a 4th and 5th quote if it’s your first reno.
FIND YOUR SHOW STOPPERS. You can afford to go high end in small areas (tile featured walls, window dressings) that will make a big impact on your renovation project. Choose which areas are distinctive to the home, and show them a little extra design love.
What are some of the challenges of running a business with your sister?
It’s easy to blur the lines between family time and work time. We can start a night with plans to hang out, and we end up having a brainstorm session for a new product line we want to develop.
Differences of opinion are something everyone experiences at work, but when it’s with someone you are related to, the dynamics change. At times you may become more verbally colourful and brutally honest when you defend your ideas. Most people in a traditional work environment could not handle this, so there are benefits to working together.
As twins, you must have always been close?
Indeed we have been. That doesn’t mean we never argue. But we are definitely connected through a common gene pool, and also through sharing and experiencing parts of our upbringing at the same age and at the same time. There is a strong bond between us that we could not imagine life or business without.
What’s the most unexpected thing to come out of your partnership?
Looking back, everything we have achieved today would have seemed unexpected. As you grow in life and in business so do your dreams, so we have learnt that nothing is unexpected. We are open to reaching greater heights in our industry and firmly believe that having an attitude of positive expectancy can deliver things you never thought were possible.
What are you working on now? And what’s next in the pipeline for you both?
We are concentrating on our interior design projects which are on our main focus at the moment. Amongst the residential projects we’ve been commissioned to undertake, we have started working on a new retail space which will allow us to push our design boundaries. We’re continuing to work on our collaborations, and we currently have a few creative projects under negotiation, so stay tuned!