Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mr Sparrow ... a look and an interview...

Well I've prattled on about this store many times
and so finally I decided to do something more about my
love (verging on obsession if I am to be honest)...

The lovely Anna was most obliging and allowed me to
Hipstamatic my way through her wares and also answered
a number of questions regarding her unique and inspirational

Now you'll have to take my word for it when 
I say that I could have included twice as 
many images since the 
shop is filled with the most delightful treasures.
Anna has a way of including something for everyone.
However I've decided to let the interview and 
photos speak for themselves...
You have a very unique store, filled with things people don't see everyday in Perth. What inspired you to start a business of this nature? For a long time I was dreaming of a shop where I would collect together all sorts of things that I loved - homewares, jewellery, plants, and all sorts of beautiful things, plus some things that I had made myself. Then my husband James and I went and lived in Berlin for a year and did lots of travelling, too, and during that time I saw so many amazing shops and products that inspired me. I couldn't wait to bring some of these beautiful things to Perth, and to put them together with all the ideas that had been stewing in my head for a long time. So when I got back to Perth I made it happen!
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? Probably what I enjoy most is being able to sit in my shop and look around and think 'I created this'. As with anyone who has started their own business, my business is my baby, so it's a pretty amazing feeling sometimes to see what it has become. In practical terms, the parts of the job I love most are discovering a new product that gets me really excited, and then unpacking that box when it arrives at the shop! And I love merchandising, so working out how to display new stock, or creating new little scenes within the shop is my absolute favourite thing. 

What do you find the most challenging? Probably the most challenging part is balancing everything! I do have one employee, but essentially Mr Sparrow is a one-man show, which means that every job that needs doing needs to be done by me. Sometimes I feel like it's all running smoothly and at other times (hmmm...like right now!) I feel like I'm running around in a total flap! It can be frustrating because I never get to devote as much time as I would like to any one part of the business, and there are always a dozen new avenues I'm wanting to explore that just never get explored because I don't have the time.

Do you have any advice for anyone wishing to start their own business? I guess I would say don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take risks. It can be quite scary approaching designers, dealing with imports, paying huge invoices...and generally doing a whole lot of things you've never done before, but generally people are fantastic to deal with and you'll find that you'll work it all out along the way!

The current market is very open to vintage, recycled and up-cycled. It seems like now more than ever people are open to the unique and original. Your store really reflects this trend. How do you stay inspired when it comes to sourcing new products and ideas? I generally don't have any problem finding inspiration because there are always so many brilliant designers creating new and exciting products. In fact, I have the opposite problem of seeing too many things I like and wanting to stock them all! There have been times, though, when I've felt in a bit of a rut and in need of a bit of refreshment. There are a few blogs I can turn to and know I will always find something inspiring: Oh Joy! and Oh Happy Day! are my favourites. I always find that getting out in nature is incredibly inspiring, too, and leaves me feeling refreshed and full of new ideas! 

What do you think are the most important elements of "great design"? Hmmm that's a tough one! I'm not a student of design and generally just trust what I am drawn to. My thoughts, though, for what they are worth, are that great design is designed to last, so thought needs to have gone into the materials and the structure so that it will stand the test of time, physically and aesthetically. I also think great design is an inspired combination of beauty and functionality; and finally I think great design is created with environmental concerns in mind, if not at the very core of the design.

Who are your style gurus? I don't really have any style gurus as such - I just like to blend ideas from all sorts of people and places. Probably the person that inspires me most, is my best friend, Eko. We just bounce off each other, so once we get talking about something creative we start coming up with all sorts of ideas and get wildly excited! She has an amazing sense of style, too, and we're able to be brutally honest with each other, so if ever I'm unsure about something I'll run it by her.

Sadly, Mr Sparrow will be closing its doors soon. You are however going to continue to run the store online (yay!) Can we expect any changes or will your catalogue/range remain similar? I'm looking forward to having a bit more time to work on the online store and make it more of a reflection of the physical store. So this means getting more products up there and also making some changes so that the aesthetics of the shop are reflected online. I have a few things in the works already so you'll see some changes online soon, with more to come! In terms of the product range, it will more or less remain the same, but some things work better online and some better in a shop, so there will be a few necessary changes. 

Do you have a favorite product or item in your store? Why so? I think my favourite products are the Pull + Push incense pots and planters from Japan. I love these for so many reasons - they are made from mortar and I am a bit obsessed with concrete these days, and the attention to detail in the design, crafting and packaging of each piece is inspiring. I would LOVE one day to visit designer Nobuhiro Sato's workshop in Kyoto and watch him create one of these beautiful pieces.

Any dreams still to be realized? Hundreds! Every day I come up with some new product I want to be making or business I want to start! Probably most of them will never come to anything but I think I will always need to be challenging myself and doing something new and creative - it's what keeps me sane. For the moment I am concentrating on doing various things with kokedama, making concrete planters, and running workshops. I will be selling my kokedama at Shop Handmade in Canberra from September, and I'll launching some exciting new workshops with my friend Eko in November here in Perth. 

What will you miss most about Perth? I'll miss my family and friends most, and my house and garden, which I love. I'll also miss my parent's property at Dwellingup, because it's such a beautiful, spiritual place and I'm always so happy there. And of course I'll miss the sunshine! Also, more than I can say I'll miss being in Mr Sparrow each day and all my lovely regular customers. I already have lots of visit back scheduled, though, so I think people will wonder if I've actually left or not! :) 

Thank you so much Anna. 
I am so chuffed to have been able to do this.
As you can see there are so many lovely
things to behold so if you're a local 
do pop in and find just about all
your gift shopping under one roof!

For those who live elsewhere don't despair....



Kylie said...

I'll definetely have to visit Mr Sparrow before it closes. One of my favourite shops, Storia in Guildford, closed recently - it was my to-go place for pressies. I like proper shops so much more than online ones, don't you?
Interesting read and lovely pics Angy, I'd love to hit the shops with you one day...

In My Wild Eden said...

What a fun and wonderful place! I really enjoyed the tour and the interview. Thanks for sharing.

Neesie said...

I'm waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy behind on my blog reading this week, but I'm so glad I came. ;D
This post was so interesting that I've also sent it on to my daughter in Edinburgh. She's been talking of something similar for a while so she'll be really interested.
Thanks for sharing.
Have a wonderful weekend. :D