For the Homeliest of Homewares: Meet Maker & Merchant
Mercy Bass | On 17, Feb 2016
Maker and Merchant is a Brisbane-based trio of sisters who draw, print, design and sew homewares -Â and more recently, clothing. The Creative Issue spoke to Imelda Ryan about their interest in local production and the lovely goods they make.
TCI: Tell us a bit aboutÂ Maker and Merchant.
Imelda: We are primarily homeware designers. We started off doing cushions, and we have branched out to lots of different things â€“ we do clothes, we do pillow cases. The only thing that limits us in what we do is what we can get made in Australia, we really like to make things as close as we live as possible.
It started off with hand drawings on fabrics, and then we advanced to screen printings and now digital printings.
TCI: WhatÂ doesÂ your creative processÂ involve?
Imelda: Iâ€™m usually the one who does the illustrating, Cecelia did fashion design years ago, so she works out the construction, design, patterns and all that kind of stuff. And my little sister, thatâ€™s Sonia, she does all the organisational planning -business side of it.
TCI: How did you start out?
Imelda:Â It started at the end of 2012 – Sonia and I were both working in jobs, which finished, and we were like, â€œwhat are we going to do?â€ Itâ€™s really rare that we get this opportunity when weâ€™re both at loose ends, so we thought weâ€™d try and do something together.
Our mum was really into making all the homewares for the house. She made the curtains, all our bed sheets and clothes, so it kind of started off with that confidence that you can do this stuff yourself.
TCI: What is it like working with your two sisters?
Imelda:Â I find it really easy to work with the two of them, particularly when designing. It lets you be very honest with what you think about things and you critique things realistically. There is not really any offence taken, itâ€™s just a nice creative way to work.
It is very collaborative. When we started Sonia was living in Hong Kong, so we used to Skype everyday. Now sheâ€™s back in Brisbane so we can see each other face-to-face, but the Skypeing was a really interesting way to work because she would sort of run away and make something and then say, â€œturn your computer on and look at this.â€
TCI: What kind of stuff inspires you?
Imelda:Â It could be anything; sometimes itâ€™s just a picture we see or a photograph. Even seeing someone in the street, and they are wearing something kooky. Itâ€™s really just about reflecting what we see into a combination of colours and fabrics. We try to use all natural fabrics, and stay away from anything overly manufactured (nylon etc)Â – so itâ€™s mainly cottons and linens.
TCI: Iâ€™m a huge fan of the sweet handkerchiefs you make, tell us more about them.
Imelda:Â Yeah we love hankies, growing up we always had a hankie in our pocket. I think some of the nicenessÂ has gone out of life now people have stopped. Itâ€™s just a sweet little gift to give to someone, and there is a nice thought behind them.
TCI: Where can we buy your pretty work?
Imelda:Â We are based online, but we have a few stockists. We have Artisan at New Farm and Jamiesonâ€™s at Woolloongabba. Also the Museum of Brisbane Shop, – we collaborate with them for particular exhibitions, for the Moreton Bay Exhibition we designed some nautical key rings and handkerchiefs for them. We are also one of the stores on The Third Row, which we think is a great initiative â€“ itâ€™s an online platform that brings together independent online shops.
TCI: Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
Imelda:Â We have moved into clothing now – we have the Brisbane Basics line. Itâ€™s hard to find something that is made withÂ natural fibres and isÂ nice and simple to wear. We live in such a hot climate and I think everything you buy has got some sort of nylon or something not-so-nice in it – I think itâ€™s really nice just to wear cotton. They are all made in Brisbane like the rest of our homewares, all sewn on my deck.
ImagesÂ courtesyÂ of Maker & MerchantÂ