It's always such a privilege getting to know a little bit about the people who created products and brands that I really love and Barnaby Lane is one of those! And when the creators are as lovely as Rae, it make you love the brand that little bit more. As the saying goes; "people don't buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it".
Barnaby Lane are well known for their beautifully designed and crafted dining chairs, occassional chairs, stools, benches, side tables, pendants, plus more! They combine stunning woods with delicious leathers and create masterpieces. I chatted to Rae about why she started, how long she sat on it, her biggest surprises and struggles as well as what keeps her going.
What inspired you to start Barnaby Lane and how long was it in the pipeline?
I always wanted to start a business so that was really the driving force behind this - but I kind of fell into it. It was from renovating our own homes and a love of travelling having spent many years in Indonesia and all over the world that my two worlds combined. I started designing furniture for homes that we were renovating, friends and family started to see what I was making and starting asking me to bring it in for them. It was when I was pregnant with my first child and on maternity leave that I decided to start the business as a retail proposition. Slightly mad timing but it all seemed to make sense - so I launched Barnaby Lane - why not hey?!. I really wasn’t expecting much of it at the time and thought it would be a nice hobby - so it’s so lovely that I can sit here today and tell you about our story! Something I thought I would never do.
What was the first product you released and how long did it take from concept to completion?
The product that I like to consider my baby is the Smith armchair. This was solely our design and took me over 12 months and many prototypes to perfect it. The hardest part was trying to find the perfect balance between form and function although I think my favourite feature of the chair is it’s weight (or lack of) it’s amazing how refined we were able to get the chair so that it appear to float effortlessly in a space - that’s also why it photographs so well it’s all of it’s slender design! I’m also super proud of our latest collection particularly the Oxford armchair - I’m sure this is going to take the mantel in time of the Smith chair it’s super sleek, and more masculine this time.
What has been the biggest surprise you have come across being in a product-based business?
There are two big surprises that I really wasn’t expecting - one is how well supported I was by the industry and by a network of inspiring (mainly woman) who had each other’s backs despite being competitors - this is still the case today and I rely heavily on these women to get me through, give me advice and just generally run ideas past. The other is not so positive and that is the lengths that bigger businesses in Australia will go to copy creative design in this market it’s really disappointing and heart breaking to see these organisations simply pluck original design from younger players and recreate it on mass typically to a poorer quality and claim it as their own. I wasn’t aware how rife this is in Australia and it disheartens me everyday!
Whats the strangest thing that has happened to you since starting this business?
The strangest thing for me was appearing in our first magazine - it’s that moment that I really NEVER imagined would happen so it was so strange in a really unbelievable kind of way!
Do you have a favourite quote or saying that inspires you to keep going or that you tell other people?
Yep I definitely do - I keep constantly reminding myself to just keep stepping off that cliff. There have been so many times where I have felt nervous or anxious about doing something but in the end you just have to take that leap and keep stepping off that cliff .. so far it’s working not sure if it’s a sustainable motto though!