Featured Designer: TinySeed

Tinyseed chalk boards

FK chats to Tessa of husband and wife label TinySeed, with a social enterprise focus bringing fabulous products from Africa to the world! Debuting at the upcoming Melbourne Markets and Brisbane Markets!

Tell us about your label? What is the concept behind TinySeed?
TinySeed is a Mr and Mrs Team excited about growth, quality and creativity.  We are passionate about using business to make a difference in developing communities.  TinySeed creates and sources awesome products, then helps to make them available to individuals and select retail stores in Australia.

Living in Cape Town (a fantastic design hub) got our creative juices flowing and introduced us to the world of awesome things made by small businesses.  Now back in Australia, we’re excited about creating opportunities for people to get their hands on some of our favourite products.  We’ve started with select products that we own and literally could not resist telling everyone we knew about.  As we grow we will increasingly add products, all with a social enterprise focus, helping small operations expand their markets.  We’re excited to build bridges with great products, showing how much Africa has to offer the rest of the world.

What are your backgrounds & how did you start working together?
Ashley has a background in mortgage and finance but was always an entrepreneur at heart; he’s been involved in various business development projects in recent years.  He’s learned a lot about style & design from his creative Mrs.  Tessa’s experience is a mixed bag of event management, super administration and writing. She got the guts to turn her crafty tinkering into trading from hanging out with her Mr.  Our dreams of a business like this have been with us since soon after we met.  We said our “I do’s” early 2011, and knew that starting something adventurous together was only a matter of time.


What do you love about working with international artists and craftsmen?  What keeps you creatively motivated?
We love the endless possibilities and energy we see in the craftsmen we’ve worked with.  The variety in their designs and ideas is just mind blowing.  They draw inspiration from the most remarkable things, while living in ridiculously challenging circumstances.  Getting to know people from different places living vastly different lives is so enriching.

Taking opportunities to tell new people about our products and the big picture behind it all is the perfect motivation.  It reminds us how important what we’re building is, how privileged we are to have the potential to impact other people’s lives so significantly.  Discovering new creatives doing extraordinary things also never fails to keep us fired up!

What is your creative workspace like, what inspires you about your surroundings?
We’ve almost always worked in a corner of our living room, or a vast number of Cape Town offices we love.  Now we have Ashley’s man-cave which is usually full of TinySeed stock and Tessa’s office which is covered with books, plants and colour coded to-do lists.  Tessa continues to draw inspiration from classic old things that are still totally fun, beautiful and useful.  Ashley is the King of ideas and efficiency, so quirky inventions are totally up his street.

The global community means our ‘surroundings’ these days are really anywhere the internet touches!  We are totally inspired by people following their dreams even when that’s not the status quo.  Whether they fly or (seem to) fail – we applaud their bravery!



What challenges have you faced starting your own label? What are some things you love about it?
Starting your own creative business is definitely not a walk in the park.  Some challenges that stand out: Establishing quality and consistency in production.  Finding reliable service providers in an unpredictable economic environment.  Cross cultural communication can be very confusing!  Managing priorities; focusing on business systems when you really just want to be making pretty things.

The good definitely outweighs the hard though.  It’s amazing to be hands on at every stage of production; from pinterest research to chalkboards drying on every surface in our home.  In our digital world it is marvellous to have a physical product to show for your hard work.  Seeing something you’ve created being used and loved in someone else’s home makes our hearts swell.

What future aspirations do you have for your label?
Support inspiring unassuming people.  Create and discover unusually beautiful things.  Change the world.  Simple as that really!
We want to see the seeds we do have: ideas, creativity and hope, grow into what we know it could become.  A global movement of people that equip and encourage creative business people in developing communities; people who invest in the dreams and ideas of others.
Craftsmen from ‘poor’ communities usually want what we all want; a chance to use their talents in a way that is fairly valued and can earn them a living.  For TinySeed, ‘living the dream’ means making that happen for as many people as possible.  When it comes to addressing poverty we believe it’s better to create opportunity than provide charity. Join with us in creating a market for these great products, and opportunity for our inspiring craftsmen.



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