FK chats to creative couple Margie & Justin about their coastal label, My Very Own Eye Goggles. Together they share a passion for working with recycled materials and combine technology with traditional crafts to hand make practical and stylish products.
Can you tell us about your lovely label and where the name comes from?
Justin and I live with our family in a coastal township south of Sydney – when we moved here it was very sleepy and quiet.
I was walking down the main street one day in 2010, and saw an incredibly styled person in our village! It inspired me to start a blog, showing things I see, around and about… From my own perspective, in my own words. The name came from my blog, and grew into our Etsy shop in 2012, with pieces created by Justin and I.
What are your backgrounds and how did you start working together?
Justin has the quick mind of a computer programmer, and is endlessly inquisitive about making things work – a true tinkerer. His skills on the tools have really helped us make our production processes (such as they are!) more streamlined.
I am an interior designer, and have embraced a love of craft and making (inherited from my super-crafty mum), combining it with contemporary materials and aesthetics. Both of us run our own businesses, and work from our home studio, so our days tend to be a fluid mixture of craft and our “real jobs”.
What inspires your work? and what keeps you motivated creatively?
We live in an incredibly beautiful and diverse place; the landscape is ever changing and inspires us daily. Whenever Justin sees an opportunity to create something that combines his loves of art and science, he pounces! He’s especially interested in objects that integrate beauty and technology – when he’s engaged in this he’s as happy as a clam.
We often find interesting materials, sometimes natural, sometimes discarded or deemed by others as “waste”, and these also provide inspiration for new ways of working and creating.
What is your workspace like? and what is your creative process?
There’s a reason I rarely post pictures of our workspaces… They are both fairly scruffy, and reflect our habit of re-using or re-purposing things! Furniture and often our materials are salvaged – we see such waste around us, when there is beauty and potential in much of what is dumped or discarded.
Our creative process involves a lot of playing around with materials, testing, prototyping, and experimenting. We both enjoy re-interpreting an existing idea or product. Our hand-knitted lamp cords for instance, came about after I was searching in vain for a wholesaler of textile lamp cords that didn’t have a minimum order of 10 kilometres of one colour… Justin quite flippantly said “Why don’t we make it ourselves?”, to which I sniffed derisively… But he persisted, and we now have a great handmade version of an old fashioned lamp cord, which we pair with industrial cages or over-sized light bulbs.
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
There are of course good and bad sides to every job, and our own business is no exception. Having flexibility to enjoy time with our family, get involved in our local community, school, and friends is a really wonderful side effect of working for ourselves.
Being self-directed, seeing an idea through into production, hearing great stories from our customers about how much they enjoy their pieces, seeing our work published and online, are all so rewarding, and keep us doing this crazy thing called a “creative industry”.
There is a LOT of work involved in doing this, and it’s not particularly financially rewarding as yet! So, we don’t really get holidays, or any of the other benefits that make life a little easier and more predictable… But both of us are driven to create, in one way or another, so it’s something that will always be a part of our lives.
What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see My Very Own Eye Goggles in the future?
Currently, my crochet work is taking me back to the era of tissue box covers and toilet dollies… while Justin is testing some ideas on the 3D printer he’s made. We are looking at combining our 3D printer technology with some of our handmade techniques to develop
some new work. Because our work is small scale and handmade, we’d like to work with other like-minded makers, collaborating and expanding the Goggles team… We’d also love to work with a few more retailers that understand the different nature of handmade. We have a few special people that we supply (Wattlebird in Austinmer, Milk Thieves in Wollongong and Black Wall in Cottesloe ), so we’d love to see that family grow!