Last week we brought you one of the faces behind our brand and this week we’re celebrating International Women's Day with the face behind a brand that many of you know and love, Sarah Ellison.
Long before she launched her namesake furniture brand in 2017, Sarah was influencing the way Australians styled their homes through her role as a professional magazine stylist.
Now based in Byron Bay, Sarah continues to inject her personal style into peoples homes through her specially curated pieces, a range that we are so proud to exclusively represent here in Australia.
We chat to her about women supporting women and how SE has eventuated into the successful and iconic brand that it is today.
How would you describe your personal interior style?
As an overarching style I would describe it as Sensory Minimalism with a nostalgic twist. But I do think it’s important to design based on your environment. I’m currently living in a beachside Queenslander style house, so the vibe in this space is my usual minimalist aesthetic but with layers of 70s surf shack which feels totally fitting for the home and position.
We are so proud to be the exclusive Australian stockists for the Sarah Ellison brand and have loved your personal journey through the Interiors Industry. Can you tell us a bit about how the SE brand eventuated?
The SE brand came about when I felt the need to exit my wonderful (but demanding) magazine career, there was a gap in the furniture market for cool and directional furniture that was approachable and accessible. I always wanted my own brand and when I met my business partner, Leigh Mckeown, all the stars aligned as I knew we were the perfect match to make it happen. My creativity + his business and PR smarts meant we were able to build a strong brand quite quickly.
Through my magazine career I had built some really great relationships such as the one with Life Interiors, so it was a no brainer that we go into partnership with them in Australia and they become our exclusive retail partner. Life have been a huge part of our growth and journey and we are forever grateful.
Where do you get your key inspiration for your amazing furniture products, and what is your favourite piece you have designed?
I’m inspired by mid-century design, I love the idea of taking something familiar and nostalgic and making it fresh again for a whole new generation. My favourite piece is yet to come. But I also love my Muse Sofa, it’s so sculptural and works so well in many different types of spaces.
Are there any insights you would like to share from your experiences as a woman in the interior industry?
Overall my experience has been positive and I put that down to the amazing men and women I have worked with and been supported by, particularly my former Editor at Real Living magazine, Deb Bibby. When I became pregnant and gave birth to my son, Deb gave me a lot of flexibility with my role which meant I was able to move forward with my career even though I had a baby at home. This was a pivotal moment for me, as most women have to step away from their careers once babies come along, but Deb (unofficially) created a role where I could still deliver what was required, have my son Blaze on shoots or even be working from home most of the week. This is women supporting women and it’s so important in business. Often female leaders have to go against the grain and bend the rules to make this a reality as it’s not usually ‘company policy’. Once Deb left Real Living and a new Editor came on board I was forced to choose between working less days or putting my son in full time day care, so that’s when I decided to leave.
The lesson for me here was that if women don’t support each other then all we are doing is making it harder on ourselves in the long run.
Other than that experience, I have always been surrounded by clever, creative men and women and have felt very supported. I’m very grateful for my business partner Leigh as he understands my struggle parenting and trying to keep up with the rigours of owning our own business. Within my business now I am able to do school pick up and drop off, take school holidays off, and my team all understand that I have priorities with my family sometimes. Balancing family and business is tough and there are moments where nothing aligns how you want it to but that’s just the commitment you make. At SE we aim to support ALL of our staff within life and work as the boundaries between the two become less rigid, we also have to be dynamic and personal in our approach to leadership.
Tell us about your favourite space in your home and what you love about it!
My favourite space is my bedroom, it has really high ceilings, and tons of natural light. I have my Yoko bed, some stone bedsides, my Gabriella Mirror and an art work. I love the way it’s very minimally designed without feeling empty, it feels serene, calm and like a sanctuary, just as a bedroom should feel!
If you could choose 5 products from both yours and our collection, what would they be?
SE: Huggy Faux Fur Chair, Muse Sofa, Tide Coffee Table, Luca Console, Alchemy Wall Sconce
Life Interiors: Noir Oval Dining Table, Surf Hut Print, Adele Armchair, Pebble Mirror, Lynden Floor Lamp