A classic concept remade for the modern home
We know that lockers might not be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s ok. Much like mustard it’s an acquired taste!
You have probably heard of House of Bec, a Newcastle-based handmade jewellery business. Now Bec, along with her sister Jess who is based in London, have started a new venture together, Mustard lockers.
Mustard is such a unique name, where did it come from?
I knew that colour was going to be really important for the lockers and when I thought about the word Mustard it seemed a perfect fit in lots of ways. It's a colour I've always be drawn to that happens to be on trend but as a colour and a condiment it's something of an acquired taste! A bit like lockers, some people will totally get it but it's not really everyone's cup of tea and I like that. We also wanted a name that was open, big enough to grow with our ambition. I figured if 'Apple' worked, why not Mustard!
Tell us a bit about the lockers themselves. Was storage the main purpose when coming up with this idea?
We have taken a classic concept and remade it for a modern home, office or kids room. We did a lot of research and added details to make them both more functional and beautiful. In all the homes I've ever lived in I have never had built in wardrobes or storage so I think the need for flexible storage is really important. I'm a pretty messy person by nature but I love having a place for everything and find it much easier to tidy up when I do. All the shelves are completely adjustable, The Skinny has a removable rail and both have a hole in the back for chargers and cables. One thing that was really important was that we wanted them to be lockable but also remain closed without being locked. You can lock stuff away to keep the kids out or take away the key if you want the kids to help you tidy up.
You showcased the lockers at Life Instyle earlier in the year, how was the response?
Life Instyle was such a great experience. Right from the start of this venture I knew it was where I wanted to launch and I was really happy with the response. We were able to pick up a range of stockists across Australia and even some great stores in New Zealand too. There was a lot of interest from stylists and designers who were excited to use them in their clients' homes and offices. A lot of people said Mustard was the most exciting thing they saw at the trade show which totally blew us away. After months and months of working on it, it was really a relief to share our products with the world for the first time and know that what we had dreamed up seems to work.
You both live on opposite sides of the world, what has been the biggest challenge?
Definitely the time difference. It can be really hard to get the timing right, we try to FaceTime at least once a day but with two children the morning and night time windows aren't always easy. Being sisters means we can be really honest with each other and make decisions together quite instinctively, it's really productive having someone to bounce ideas off and we are looking forward to launching in the UK in a few months time.
Has Mustard become a full-time job or are you both working on your separate things as well? (eg House of Bec)
I'm working full-time (and more) while Jess is still holding down a job as a fashion buyer and preparing for our UK launch. It takes a lot of energy to create something from scratch and our family are extremely patient and supportive. After nearly five years of House of Bec I was ready to move on, it has been emotional saying goodbye to something I made but I feel like I am bursting with years of insight that I can use to fuel my new project. I certainly couldn't have made Mustard happen if it wasn't for all I have learnt and all the mistakes I've made with House of Bec.
When can customers put in the first order?
We are open for Pre Orders now. Our first shipment is currently being born and will be ready for shipping in June! (YAY!)
Do you have a favourite locker style and colour?
Oh it's tough! I think my personal favourite is the Olive green. I can't wait to put three together for my son's wardrobe. I do really love the Blush too but they all have a place in my heart.
What led you to China to find a manufacturer?
Having had a very handmade business it was certainly a big shift to be manufacturing in China but the products are not something I was able to make myself and we want them to be accessible and for our brand to be able to scale. Whilst it's been a steep learning curve, the more I learn, the more proud I am. On our boxes we proudly wrote "Conceived in Australia, Born in China" to try to convey that we believe in the quality of our products, I have just returned from my second trip to our factory to watch our first batch of locker babies be born.
What advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business?
My personal mantra is "Done is better than perfect" because if you wait for perfect, you'll never produce anything. You have to keep pushing forward, adapting, learning and refining, it's all part of the process. Secondly, ask lots of questions. Find people who have experience and learn from them - but - once you've got lots of feedback, follow your instincts. Lastly, when you feel like you don't know what you are doing, remember everyone else is just winging it too.