Tell us a little about you and your background, the things you enjoy doing when you aren’t working hard to grow your business?
Jules – I started my working life riding racehorses and rode many winners as a lady jockey. When I retired from riding I completed a Saddlery & Leather course for 5 yrs and started my own saddlery business soon after. All the experience I gained during my time working with leather and many other materials has now stood me in good stead with the products we manufacture at Stix & Flora. My hobbies are growing different species of cacti, swimming and going to AFL football. Em & I also have enrolled in a Ladies Woodworking class which I love and find relaxing
EM – I have had many customer service roles from which I gained knowledge from all the positions I held. This has made it very easy to take up my position as a director at Stix & Flora. I love attending yoga and meditation classes, swimming at the beach and nature walks on the weekends
Tell us about your business, the products you sell and your journey?
Stix & Flora is a family owned business operated by mum Jules and daughter Em. All our products are handcrafted in our studio in Melbourne. Our range of products include Teardrop Vases, Halfmoon Vases and Timber Planters.
Back in 2014, Em was moving into her new home and asked Jules to make her a few pot plant pouches. Initially Jules said I haven’t got the time to make them, but then she thought I had better make her some, as mums do.
She made them to the perfect size, but the colour choice was not the best so we went together to choose some nice bright fabric. All our family and friends that saw them wanted them as well. Em was working in a homeware store at the time, so she showed the owner a few samples, she liked what she saw and ordered 20 Pouches. They all sold in a few days.
So we registered a business name and built our website, we then added the pouches to Instagram and facebook and found we were receiving messages from homeware stores Australia wide asking if we sell wholesale.
In your opinion, what makes your products unique and what edge do you have over your competitors?
Our products are unique because we handcraft and design each product individually from start to finish. We also have the IP rights to our products which is a must in business.
What has been the greatest aspect of running your business so far?
The greatest aspect of running our business so far has been the pleasure we experience when either customers purchase one of our products via our website or a store placing an order for our products, we both appreciate these people supporting our business so much.
Which of your products is your favourite, and why?
Our Teardrop Vase is our favourite because it is unique and different to any vase on the market. We had the vision of the shape of our teardrop vase and tried unsuccessfully using leather straps, that process just didn’t work. It was during a visit to our wood merchant that an employee showed us a sample of flexible plywood and said “can you do anything with this?” That was the light bulb moment for the shape we were trying to achieve with the leather. Initially we tried to lace all parts together and used elastic bands to hold our flasks in place. That didn’t work or look good either!
With Jules background of saddlery and leather work, she was quick to jump on the sewing machine and make a leather keeper, which actually held the flasks in place, and made it simple to remove the flasks also making the finished product classy. As for the lacing to hold the wood panels together, we soon realised nails would do a much better neater, and stronger finish
Our next step was to see if anybody liked our vases so we attended Emu Plains market on the Mornington Peninsula. The market commenced at 8am and by 10am we had sold out, we then knew we were heading in the right direction.
So far what have been the major challenges you have faced in running your business and how have you overcome them to build a more successful company?
We pride our business on using quality materials when making our products. The challengers we have encountered finding the best quality timber for our vases and planters has been a real test, but we have now, thank goodness, found the right timber merchant.
Also finding the best freight company for shipping our products was also important to us as we like to ship our products out on time.