FK chats to Jane about lovely new online store Barker & Stone
Tell us about your online store Barker & Stone and what things we can expect to discover.
The Barker & Stone store was created from a love of pieces that are simple, beautiful, natural and sustainable. Some of the items to be discovered at Barker & Stone include: sustainable, eco friendly and organic gifts such as our natural, botanical perfumes and handmade jewellery. A variety of eco friendly bedding made from organic cotton and gorgeous natural linens. Handmade and vintage kitchen wares. Fair trade, upcycled and eco friendly home decor such as jute baskets, beeswax candles and alpaca wool throws. We also have a range of organic bath and body goodies. Many of the products we stock are Australian made – that is a priority for us when choosing lovely things for the store. All complimented with a free gift wrap service (using recycled paper of course!).
When did you launch the shop online and what was the motivation?
The store is very new! The site went live at the beginning of this year. I have always had a passion for design and home wares, and I love finding great quality, unique items. I was managing a home wares store for a while and I noticed that more and more customers would come in and want to know the story behind the product, where items had come from and how they were made etc. Unfortunately the shop I worked at purchased mass produced, made in china goods and I found it fairly uninspiring. I believe that as people are becoming more informed, they are more conscious of their choices. So after much thinking and planning I finally decided to take the plunge and set up my own store selling products I could be proud to represent.
Who are the team behind Barker & Stone?
Right now its just me. Although I do have regular coffees with friends and run my ideas past them. They have come up with a number of good suggestions! Eventually I would love to be able to employ people to work in the business. As Barker and Stone is based in a NSW country town it would be great to be in a position to offer local employment.
The shop has a beautiful natural organic approach to it. What do you look for in the labels you stock?
I look for items that have been hand crafted or fair trade, where there is attention to detail and integrity in design. The materials used are important in my choices. I look for natural, recycled, organic or vintage. As a priority I try and find products that have been made in Australia – to support local business where I can. However its not always possible to some items have been made overseas. In these cases I buy directly from the crafter or from companies that have fair trade policies. It is important to the Barker & Stone philosophy to be able to know the story behind the products that I sell.
What do you love about being part of the creative community in Australia?
Discovering all the beautiful and amazing products that are being crafted. The quality and imagination of design makes it difficult to narrow down choices when choosing stock !!
Who are some of your favourite labels at the moment?
Well of course I love every item that we currently stock. Some of my favourites include Velvet Bean – recycled coffee sack cushions. Eucalypt ceramics, hand made in WA. Couychi organic cotton bedding, Queen B candles and the gorgeous smelling One Seed hand made natural, botanical perfumes. I am also very excited about a new product we have coming over – Chilote House shoes, handmade in Chile from recycled salmon leather and wool. We will be one of the first stockists in Australia for these award winning products. Other labels I would love to see in the store one day would be Bird Textiles, Elly Oak and Uimi Designs.
What challenges have you faced setting up your own business and what advice would you give to others?
The biggest challenge so far has been trying to get suppliers on board. Unfortunately a number of labels I really wanted to stock wouldn’t supply us with product as Barker & Stone is only online. I find that attitude quite disappointing and it has led to having to source similar items from overseas craftspeople instead. Keeping to the budget is also a bane, as I keep finding so many lovely items I would like to buy for the store! I would advise anyone thinking of starting up online not to that it is an easy option. People still like to be able to see, touch, smell products before they buy them, and that is hard to get across for an online store. For that reason we offer a generous returns policy so that customers can easily get a refund if something is not quite right. Although I am confident they will love our products as much as I do. In general though I would say go for it, you never know if you don’t give it a go!!
Where else do you go for inspiration online?
There are so many great blogs and sites out there that I could just spend all day finding inspiration! I tend to look at Madeit, Etsy, and market sites such as Handmade Canberra, The Market Hobart, Finders Keepers (of course) for product ideas. Facebook is also a great resource and I’ll also check out some of the big name stores for marketing ideas.