Sponsored by Life Instyle
With well loved trade fairs Life Instyle and Kids Instyle just around the corner (4-7 August), we spoke to three exhibitors about the stories behind their businesses.
Suzie Atkin was a stay at home mum, having quit the corporate world, dabbling in art as a hobby while she looked after the kids. She could never have imagined her art print business Urban Road would become the business it is today, five years ago. “I started in my home office because I loved creating art and hoped that it might provide me with an income so I could work from home.”
Specialising in quality, affordable, Australian designed and made art, their designs are exclusive to them. “We enjoy the challenge of creating new collections that meet the needs of our sophisticated customers,” Suzie says. Although there have been many highlights, she says there are a couple of standout moments: “One is when we started printing and manufacturing ourselves. My partner Mishelle Morgan headed up this side of the business and it was a huge learning curve and great accomplishment. The other was the opportunity to work with Shaynna Blaze to create an art collection for her (their second collection with Shaynna will be launched at at Life Instyle next month).”
Not resting on their laurels, Urban Road’s first wallpaper collection is now in the works for release late this year.
This will be Urban Road’s third time exhibiting at Life Instyle Melbourne. “The show gives us valuable face to face time with our stockists and the opportunity to showcase our new collections for them, in addition to meeting new customers. The outstanding quality of the show and high calibre of fellow exhibitors fits with our brand. We proudly design, print and manufacture our wall art here in Australia and feel that Life InStyle embodies Australian made,” Suzie adds.
If there’s a trend we have seen go off these past 12 months with no signs of slowing down, it’s all things marble, and sister act Bonnie and Bliss Adams of Marble Basics are at the forefront of providing these homewares and decor pieces to the Australian customer. “Before starting the business, I was working as an interior decorator, and before that I worked in television production,” says Bliss. Bonnie had just finished her Visual Arts degree at university, and was working in an art gallery.
“We launched Marble Basics in 2014 at a time when the only marble on the market was either very expensive or difficult to find, and didn’t really exist in an accessible way,” Bonnie says. “The only product that was really available was a marble mortar and pestle! Our philosophy was to offer marbleware in basic, functional shapes and make luxury accessible and a part of the everyday. We hate the thought of having ‘good’ things only used on special occasions; life is too short to save beautiful pieces for one day of the year.”
This is their first year exhibiting at Life Instyle, where they’ll be unveiling their 30-plus piece new collection, Unearthed. Having a strong online presence (as well as being stocked by bricks and mortar stores), they were keen to be front and centre with retailers, and get back to basics, communicating their brand message face-to-face. “Trade fairs like Life Instyle offer the ability to chat with customers on a very personal level and that is quite powerful when so much is done behind a computer.”
Also exhibiting for the first time this year, at Kids Instyle, is Melbourne kids skincare brand Bubba Organics, made in Australia, not tested on animals and environmentally friendly. Kerri Chadwick owned and managed an Australian online perfume and beauty store for a number of years before changing direction with the purchase of a popular baby and children’s boutique.
“As owners of a baby and children’s boutique, we received many requests from mums looking for honest and natural organic baby and family skincare. As parents with children from tiny to teen, we have experienced sensitive skin over the years and have also found it quite the challenge to find truly natural, organic and effective products with no potentially harmful chemicals. The search often involved a lot of misinformation, so our journey began with over two years of researching, testing and developing our own all Australian made, pure, natural organic by nature baby skincare range.”
The business is very proud to be Australian made, owned and designed. “We use aloe vera as our base not water, providing superior products for families. Our modern packaging is also proving a standout for the perfect gift and mums are loving that we are open, honest and transparent with our brand.
“We are all busy mums at Bubba Organics so balancing work and family life can be a little challenging! In saying that, we have an amazing team and we try not to take things too seriously. We overcome any challenges by dealing with them and moving on – good coffee, yummy organic chocolate and a glass of wine also helps!”
Kerri says Kids Instyle was an obvious choice: “We wanted exposure for our brand at the biggest baby and children’s trade fair in Australia, so all our buyers are in one happy place.”
Life Instyle is Australia’s premium boutique trade event that showcases products and brands on the cooler side of style and design. Kids Instyle is Australia’s premier boutique trade event for retailers searching for the best selection of unique and high-end kids and babies fashion and designer accessories within an inspiring, modern and unmatched sourcing environment.
Life Instyle and Kids Instyle are at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building from 4 to 7 August 2016. The trade-only event is free to attend.