Kate & Rose is your one stop shop for a creative mix of accessories and home decor. Its lovely owner Suzanne makes beautiful candles in vintage china and food themed trinkets that are all parts fun and unique. She shares her experience of lockdown, how she utilises waste free packaging and her Suitcase Rummage tips.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do? (And how did you come up with your business name?) Hi I’m not Kate or Rose, my name is Suzanne and I run Kate & Rose from my 1912 House in Kensington Vic that I share with my husband two daughters and our two rescue cats. Kate and Rose is named after my two daughters (it’s their middle names, eldest first). At the end of the day, I decided to do a home-based business to juggle work around them and they are the main beneficiaries of my work effort. Kate & Rose originally sold only upcycled teacups (soy teacup candles) and upcycled vintage china cake stands. I used to take my own jewellery to display on the cake stands and after questions to purchase items, thought the time might be right to try and make and stock tea party related jewellery to display on the stands. That’s how the food related theme developed but has now been extended from just tea party items.
Why do you do what you do? To be honest having a home-based business ticks all the boxes. It allows me to live my life independently and creatively. It allows me to do all this around my own family. I can work to the wee hours of the morning, or when my girls are in bed. I can catch up on accounts at the strangest times. As a small business owner, it keeps your mind busy, from advertising, marketing, stock control to direct sales etc. The creative side of making is quite joyous to do all whilst listening to music or podcasts and taking cat pat breaks. The makers and the lovely customers you meet along the way make it all worthwhile.
What kinds of ideas, collections and creative things are you working on at the moment? We have just been away down the coast, so the beach is always inspiring. I’m going to add a more affordable range of sea creatures to my acrylic collection. With Job Seeker and Keeper ending, I think it will still be a tough year. I’m expecting more people may need to be price conscious. Could be great for those that love to rummage, as hopefully there will be lots of demand for pre-loved items. I’m going to try and keep that in mind this year and I’m aiming to work on affordable items this year. Easter is also not too far away, so I’m working on hot cross bun studs and bunny necklaces.
What was the hardest thing about lockdown in Melbourne?Everyone being home for so long, all together. So, they say what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. Two daughters doing home schooling and my husband also working from home, he was sent home just before the schools closed down. In fact, he’s still working away in the front room. I was more worried about him being at home, having to share my space. I’m usually the only one working from home. The second toughest thing was having to share the two cats during the day. First toughest was my mother getting ill, having to move from home to hospital then emergency respite then to an aged care home, all during the six months that both the lock downs happened. Mum lives in the country, so organising everything mainly remotely was challenging, sad and stressful.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve all been able to Rummage together in Melbourne, what have you missed most and what are you looking forward to about Rummaging again? I’ve really missed talking and connecting with other makers and sellers. I usually love seeing what other items are being made and also grabbing some preloved clothing.
Can you offer any tips on setting up a rummage stall? Even though it’s a small space and it’s on the ground. You should try and make it aesthetically pleasing. A colourful rug or cloth. You can layer or raise up the back of the space using vintage suitcases and small easy to carry props. I like to go suitcase within a suitcase and then bring a couple of cool bags with the stock in (might sound odd but it works for me). If everything is dead flat it doesn’t really look that pleasing. You need to try and grab people’s attention. Have items at different price points too, so you can appeal to all kind of buyers.
What are you looking forward to in the future? Getting out and about connecting with customers, family and friends. I’m hoping there will be a lot of catching up to do this year. Also brain storming new ranges and opportunities.
Do you incorporate sustainable/environmentally friendly practices into your small business? All my items are posted in small CD or video sized boxes. Most of my interior packaging is pre-used. For the candles I make they are made from sustainable soy wax. I love vintage, so teacups and cake stand are all made using repurposed or vintage china. I’m a keen op shopper. Jewellery made from clay and resin is however made using new products.
What’s your favourite place or thing to do in your city? I would have to say all the little lanes, both obvious and hidden in the CBD. I love Degraves St and Block Arcade in particular. The beautiful heritage architecture the nooks and turns and the smell of coffee and the hidden treasures that can be found.
Where can we find and follow you?
Instagram and twitter @katenrosetea
In-store at the following shops:
Fitzroy – Incube8r
North Fitzroy – Muscrats Vintage and Handmade
Seddon – Once More With Feeling
Kensington & Fairfield – Erinbank
Kyneton – The Old Auction House