From Habitat magazine - issue 32, colourful people
A passion for a colour and custom home décor spurs a creative livelihood.
It's fair to say that Julie has always been destined for a colourful life, having shown a talent and passion for the creative industries since she was young. Fast forward through a career in retail fashion and a promotion into visual merchandising, Julie and her husband Mark bought their first home, kicking her love of interiors into overdrive.
"It was a constant struggle to find things that fit what I wanted for our renovations and within our tight budget, especially once our twins were born, so we ended up designing and building a lot of what we wanted along the way," says Julie. "I kept designing what I wanted for our home, and I could see several gaps in the market for items that I thought were functional and minimalist."
After joining a 'mum-trepreneur' group, and plenty of peer pressure from friends, Julie became inspired by like-minded working mums. She and Mark now run Décor Handled, their own online business – an endeavour that puts both Julie's love for design and Mark's knack for engineering to good use. Together, they design and manufacture wall-mounted home storage products and customisable décor from locally-sourced supplies and ethically-minded products.
Finding inspiration comes easy for Julie, who continues to examine her own family's needs and desires when coming up with new products. "I'm pretty time poor, so I focus on things that will make my life easier or keep our home tidier. A product has to work in our home first. It has to be visually pleasing, but also function usefully and not be wasteful. So, if one of our products can do that, then we will add it to the range we offer," says Julie.
Their children help with product testing, making requests, using each design and offering feedback for improvements. "We wouldn't have created some of the shelving we currently have today if it wasn't for them."
To colour their beautiful product range, which includes everything from drawer handles to clothing racks, Julie looked to Resene – a choice that she says came down to one simple thing. "We'd tried several different paint brands during our renovations and knew that Resene could withstand wear and tear from the daily use of our boisterous children, three of whom are boys."
Adding to each product's allure is Julie's chic colour palette. Selecting just the right hues is something she takes very seriously as a way of putting her customers first, and she considers their feedback and requests to be one of the most vital parts of her business. One of her sayings is, "I can't fix what I don't know about, and I can't improve what I don't know to improve." While Julie is personally drawn to whites and greys, she makes sure to bring her fans into the fold, posting colour charts onto Décor Handled's Instagram to gauge response and gain insight. "That's how we added Resene Cosmos, Resene Dusted Blue and Resene Horizon to our range. I also love it when customers email and ask if we can add a specific colour to our range, such as the peach – which is why we offer Resene Wax Flower," she says.
Like so many interior design lovers, Julie isn't immune to the attraction of trending colours. She frequents Resene ColorShops with her latest purchases to find the perfect colour match, which is how Resene St Kilda joined her palette. Her children's input also extends to colour choices, with her youngest choosing Resene Sante Fe as Décor Handled's go-to terracotta.
As for what's next for Julie and Mark, she says that they always have a workshop and folder full of ideas. Engraved styles will be added to the brand's current range of drawer handles, which will also be increased with new shapes, symbols and customisation options.
"The rest of our focus for the next month or two is to showcase more of our products in a wider range of Resene colours so our customers can see more of the choices on offer."
Whether for her business or home life, Julie is always applying pops of Resene colour."I love Resene Koru and Resene Seaweed – especially on coat racks. Greens make me happy, as I love gardening and plants and can envisage plants hanging from them in someone's entrance."Julie name checks Resene Sante Fe as a colour she gets excited about when orders come through, since it complements wood so well and looks great with leather. She also notes requests for Resene Full Monty always make her happy, especially seeing how the moody depth of it changes the feel of a product. Her absolute favourite, though, is Resene Geyser. "I find it so calming and clean and love the crisp line of it on a shelf ledge front."
To see more of Julie and Mark's work, visit www.decorhandled.co.nz.
images: General Collective, Julie Clark
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