There isn’t a single creative out there that hasn’t harboured dreams of a lofty, industrial style work space where the studio dog naps in a corner and freshly painted white walls set off the rustic old wooden rafters. Yes, in fact I think we have all imagined ourselves in a space like this!
What’s more, while rustic modern studio’s are rife in the back streets of Melbourne and dark corners of Brooklyn they are virtually impossible to pin down in the much “younger” urban centres of New Zealand.
It just so turns out they are there if you are prepared to hunt and creative partners in crime; Evie Kemp and Amy Clarke can vouch for that. With accomplished businesses in their own right, the young women decided to join forces to find a work space that would move them out of their respective home studio’s and into a situation that not only gave them room to develop their own brands, but new opportunity to innovate and even collaborate.
Inspired by similar set ups overseas, like Melbourne’s Harvest Workshop, they let go of any need to be in the city centre and instead focused on West Auckland where their budget could go a little further. Gold was struck when they found and immediately fell in love with a large industrial unit in Te Atatu South , that on viewing was packed to the rafters with Indian wedding props. Think huge polyester rainbows, clouds, gilded pillars, statues and piles of fake flowers reaching the roof!
The ridiculous riot of colour and fantasy was so unexpected and the pair took it as a good omen, taking the leap and signing the lease!
The girls moved in late October 2013 and immediately pushed play on their “studio” brand; Rust and Stardust producing a range of homewares that combined their experienced pool of skills across art, design, sewing and construction. Their mutual ability to produce unique but covetable items was proven when they launched a hugely successful Pledge Me campaign to get their first range into stores and their website.
Aside from the plus’s that come in working as part of a team both of them drive their own successful enterprises.
Evie moved to Auckland from the UK at 14 years old and in 2005 headed to Auckland University and a double degree in Law and Arts – majoring in Art History.
It wasn’t long before she realised that Law was not her thing and decided to leave after 1.5 years to concentrate on building a portfolio to apply for Design School. She entered her 3 year degree thinking the world of magazines was most likely her destination…however under the guidance of some terrific illustration tutors she took off in a new direction full of pattern making, fabric painting and a whole industry she had been unaware of. During her final year she began to connect with with other independant designers such as Dear Colleen, Devon Smith and Amy Clarke (writing was on the wall there!).
After a successful exhibition of work she decided to follow suit and launch her own Etsy store to showcase and sell her collection of fabrics, cushions and prints. The feedback from customers was crucial in her development, responding and heading in the direction of what people actually wanted to own in their home.
While holding down a job as a full time Mac Operator at the NZ Herald she began to grow her business beyond her Etsy store, eventually launching her own attached to her site. Her continually growing series of bright, animal focused prints have led to a true cult following and healthy wholesale business. Now fully set adrift in the exciting land of self employment she can add not only an exclusive collaboration on cushions and ceramics for Superette to her resume but also the development of further homewares and cultivation of a growing stable of stockists.
Phewf!!!This is Pebbles – she is very special. Learn all about her on instagram: #hyenapigdog
At 32 years old Amy Clarke has just relaunched her independent label; “Mylarke”, a fashion business that has found more success online then I think anyone can really appreciate!
Amy completed a Bachelor of Design at Unitec, majoring in photography. As a super keen sewer she relished having more time to indulge in this following her graduation. Sewing like mad she then decided to start listing her one off garments on Trade Me – it wasn’t long before she struggled to keep up with the demand for her pinafore dresses and the sales from this channel alone quickly grew to sustain her with full time work!
In 2006 she then opened an Etsy store and expanded her collection under the name “Victoria’n’bird”, connecting with a largely American audience that put simply, couldn’t get enough of her style. When chatting to her I felt quite gobsmacked at this achievement – that she was really an unsung star for online based fashion in NZ!
Sure she faced challenges as a self taught designer, particulary when it came to sourcing fabric and pattern-making. But what she lacked in formal training she made up for in innovation and a savvy approach to answering the call of her customer base.
With Rust and Stardust now established they are able to realise their dream of an interactive studio, collaborative label and have just started rolling out a series of creative workshops which you can read all about here!
As independent creative’s they are SHINING examples of people that continue to explore their own ideas but with some business acumen and strategy thrown in. As a combined force they have become one of the first in New Zealand to introduce the concept of an open doored and multi faceted studio space which has SO much potential!
WHAT I LEARNT FROM EVIE AND AMY:
It is entirely possible to be a successful self employed creative in NZ by innovating online, identifying your audience and “what” you can sell them and partnering your art with a pinch of business acumen.Homestyle magazine.
A shortened version of this feature appears in the current issue along with a great deal of other inspiring content for kiwi homes.