Once Was Lost create beautiful textiles, jewellery and homewares and nurture sustainable employment with the artisans they partner with. We are big fans of their ethical fashion business model. All of their textiles are handmade, from hand picked cotton to the final product, so when you buy from them you are helping to support a community of makers in Ethiopia and preserve age-old production techniques. That is a beautiful thing, and this is their creative biz story:-
- When and why did you decide to start your own creative business?
My husband Andy and I started Once Was Lost in 2013 with a desire to merge simple design and the natural aesthetic that we loved with the beauty and tradition of hand crafted, fairly traded products.
- Tell us about your business – what products do you create, and why?
We design and work with incredible artisans all over the world to create collections of hand woven cotton scarves and throws, all crafted completely by hand using age-old production techniques. We also have a collection of cotton canvas and leather bags, sterling silver jewellery and a collection of soft furnishings for the home.
- What motivates you to run a creative business?
Growing up in a really creatively nurturing family, I’ve always been excited and challenged by the idea of running my own business. Being able to translate the time honoured craftsmanship of our artisans into something relevant to a broader market across the world is incredibly humbling. Seeing first hand the phenomenal craftsmanship involved through each part of the production process and to then see that same piece being appreciated and lovingly worn by one of our customers on the other side of the world, knowing their purchase is making a real difference in that artisans life, is constantly motivating.
- What has been the hardest lesson you have learnt so far about working for yourself?
Oh, I’m constantly learning! Possibly that there are lots of things that are often outside of your control – and that’s ok!
- Roughly what percentage of time do you spend on the creative side of your business?
I think every part of running the business is creative! Whether it’s doing the more obvious things like design work, photo shoots, website design and collaborations or whether it’s creatively working on ways to create a better experience for our customers, or promoting the ranges through unique marketing activities or branding and packaging. We’re both constantly creatively strategizing on new ways to make what we do better – for our customers and for our artisans also.
- What part of your business have you/or would you like to outsource?
We love to work with the incredible creatives that we outsource to! I think the key is to look at the financial cost versus the time cost. Sometimes the amount of time it would take you to master a new skill to the ability of a professional is not worth the investment. Whilst we do our creative vision and design work in house, we outsource all our photo shoots and direction using talented photographers and directors. We are incredibly blessed to partner with our dear friend, Meghan Plowman who has assisted us with creative direction for our shoots and promotional material. We also now outsource our book-keeping – because lets face it, who wants to choose to spend their time on MYOB!
- What is your top tip for someone thinking of starting an independent design business?
Before you start, consider for what purpose are you starting it? If you can create a compelling enough reason why, nothing will stand in your way!
- What’s the most fun/satisfying part of your working day?
Being able to work along side the man of my dreams every day! That, and being able to work predominantly from home so we can work just steps away from the newest member to our family, our son, James!
- Who would you most like to collaborate with, and why?
We love working on collaborations! Right now, we’re working on a collaboration with a large company in Switzerland which we’re really excited about. We’re also going to be working with local Australian artisans in some of our designs for 2017 which we can’t wait for!
- What are you working on for the year ahead and do you have anything new coming up?
There are always lots of things on the cards, but we’re particularly excited about our range for little ones launching at the end of this year – ‘Once Was Little’! We’ve had lots of our customers using our soft throws for blankets for their babies, but we wanted to create something that would be specifically suited for littlies!