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where ideas meet colour

From Habitat magazine - issue 29

Colour has helped this mother and daughter team turn design ideas into a thriving business.

How do you make your design business stand out? Add more colour! That’s been the experience of mother and daughter team Mary Mortland and Anna Tweedie, the talented Mt Maunganui-based duo behind Inscribe Design.

Inscribe Design was born four years ago when Anna, with her children now at school and kindy, was looking to return to work. Her wish list was to find work with enough flexibility to allow for family commitments and, if possible, allow her to use her creative flair.

Anna and Mary
Left: Anna and Mary in front of one of their popular Te Reo clocks, finished in Resene Riptide.  Right: Coasters in various styles.

“I really wanted to do something I loved and felt passionate about, rather than just ‘working for the man’.”

Mum Mary, who shares that artistic flair, suggested they look for a business they could run together. They found a local hobby business based around a laser-cut machine which was for sale. They bought it and started experimenting. Four years later the pair have a thriving enterprise creating beautiful laser-cut wood designs from sustainable bamboo. Their product inventory includes everything from cake toppers and coasters to wall hangings and intricate clocks.

But what makes their designs stand-out from other laser-cut products, and is one of the reasons for their on-going success, says Anna, is their use of colour. “Other laser-cut businesses often stick to just bare wood or acrylic. We really wanted to stand out from the others and offer something unique.

“We both really love colour, so we added colour,” Anna says. For that, they turned to Resene paints.

Wall hangings and spinning tops.
Name Wall Hangings and Spinning Tops, all finished in Resene paints.

“We love the range of colours Resene offers,” says Mary. She says they knew very little about paint when they started out and were helped hugely by the knowledgeable staff at their local Resene ColorShop when it came to choosing finishes and paint types.

When selecting colours, Anna and Mary are guided by interior trends and customer favourites, but also “the colours that appeal to us and inspire us”, says Anna.

“There is a real trend among customers for items with a pop of really bright colour, particularly in things like coasters. It really works,” says Anna. “Sometimes the design comes first then we’ll think about what colour will work,” says Mary. “And sometimes a colour will inspire a design. It’s a mix of both.” Customers will also request a specific colour, which they can create as a bespoke product.

The Inscribe customer base ranges from corporates to individuals and their biggest-selling item at the moment is the beautiful Te Reo clock, shown on the wall behind Anna and Mary at left. In fact, all Inscribe’s clocks have become so popular they have recently upgraded to a second larger laser-cut machine to accommodate the increased demand.

Despite all the growth the business is still run from Anna’s Mt Maunganui property. “We are busy and popular enough that we could take things to a larger industrial level. But we don’t want that,” says Anna. “We want to keep it just mum and I, and be able to still have that hands-on creative input. We put so much love into these products.

“The biggest reward for us is the genuinely lovely comments from our customers. We love receiving pictures of our creations in their homes.

“It’s been a lot of trial and error, and you have your ups and downs but we have exceeded what we thought was possible in the past four years.”

Their favourite colours

Current favourite colours are Resene Riptide, the most popular colour with Inscribe customers, and Resene Java. Bright bursts of colour in Resene Grenadier and Resene Turbo are also popular, along with designs in classic black and white combos, usually in Resene All Black and Resene White. Mary also professes a love for the bright green Resene Dizzy Lizzy.

For more, see

Words: Kerri Jackson
Portrait: Chris Parker


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