1. When and why did you start Cranmore Home?
My first little ‘go’ at building a retail business was just after my husband and I moved into our farmhouse. Once we had started our renovations, I found that I was frustrated that I could not find an alternative to mass produced, or horribly expensive products. I started looking more at brands that I knew were Australian-designed and produced either locally or under very strict Fair Trade principles.
A gorgeous girlfriend of mine suggested that the brands I was collecting would compile well for a shop. Somehow, her well meant comment ended up with her and I running a pop-up event at my farmhouse with the entire house being styled and merchandised! Cranmore Home is a now a bit of a moveable feast — it’s an online retail outfit, a roving pop-up shop throughout regional WA, host for a Winter Workshops series (in 2014) and anything else that tickles my fancy.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for the name?
Cranmore Home in its physical sense is Cranmore Park — our family farm. We live in a 1909-built farmhouse on the farm that we moved into five years ago. The farmhouse has been in the Lefroy family since its beginnings and is now home to my husband and I, our trio of kids, a couple of sheepdogs, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. Our homestead, Cranmore Home, is one of the oldest surviving homesteads in Western Australia. As such it is full of character old treasures, fascinating stories and layers of history that make a house a ‘home’ .
3. What’s a typical day like at Cranmore HQ?
I am not really sure I have a ‘typical’ day at Cranmore! It starts with the standard morning rush of getting three kids and myself out the door and on the road to town by 7:30am to get school and daycare drop offs complete. Once I get to my office, I check my online orders and get those ready for wrapping and packing. Bec, my incredibly organised Manager and Events Coordinator, and I always write a little note to our customers thanking them for supporting Australian-design by shopping with Cranmore Home. We really want people to feel a thrill when they see their Cranmore Home parcel arrive…After orders are done and dusted, I get on with various tasks such as updating my website, merchandising our showroom and, my favourite, checking out leads on any new designers I have got my eye on!
4. What do you love most about your job?
All of it! There are just so many great elements to running a creative business. I love coming up with new ideas of how to share Cranmore Home’s products and Australian-design ethos with people living in regional WA. I also love getting to know the artisans behind the brands of Cranmore Home. Learning about their inspirations for their work and how they see their work in a practical, everyday sense.
5. How do you decide what makes the cut and gets online? Surely you see a whole mass of goodies on your sourcing travels?
It took me three years to gather the artists and brands that I now stock through Cranmore Home. I do have a little obsessions with ‘Insta-sourcing’ to help me stay inspired and seek new discoveries; seeking new items via magazines or word-of-mouth conversations. It has surprised me just how strongly I feel about stocking only Australian-designed and Fair Trade produced goods. Australian-design is such a natural fit for my aesthetic — there is a flair, colour palette and functionality of Australian designs which make it unique. Many of our Australian designers do take their work offshore for production and this is where I spend a lot of research time ensuring that products meet strict Fair Trade principles in their creation, the materials used and the relationships with the artisans. I take a long time making sure I pay due diligence to the Fair Trade aspect of my brands.
6. You have three kids, how do you juggle motherhood and running a business?
Some days, I have no idea how everything keeps on rolling and then other days I think ‘I could do more each day’! I think that every parent faces the same balancing act of devoting time and energy to their children and having a career. I am so blessed in that my career is also my passion, so I never resent going to work. Cranmore Home also provides me with a creative outlet which I believe, allows me to be a better mother to my children.
7. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you started the business what would it be?
Take. A. Breath. I am a bit of a ‘do it all now’ person and this can mean that I put unnecessary stress on myself to do everything, all at once! I have been very lucky in that I have met so many wonderful people who have been generous with sharing their business knowledge with me. Starting a small business is exciting but also tremendously daunting, having a wonderful network of support from fellow creative businesspeople gives me the energy and confidence to keep moving forward.
Have you discovered any new online stores recently? I’d love for you to share them below!