This week I have the huge honour of showcasing home decor brand Arlo & Co. Based in Melbourne, this family run business is the fore runner of childrens and lifestyle decor gifts. I might be a bit bias as I am a Brand Rep for them, but with nearly
50, 000 Instagram followers and growing every day, it appears I'm not the only one smitten with this company.
Their originality and quality can not be denied and you know what? Gemma and family are the nicest, wackiest people you could ever deal with. I mean that in the nicest way possible Gemma! In an industry that can be quite pretentious, it is so refreshing to work with geniune, honest and inspiring people.
I love their products but then anything natural, wood, and stone floats my boat. They were a bit hesitant when releasing their latest product the Stone and Wood Prints and wondered whether the concept would fly. Well.. it flew to the Moon and back that's for sure and why wouldn't it. Read on the find out more about this melbourne based duo and what it takes to become number one in your field....
Tell us a little about your background, family and life?
Ahh, ok. First and foremost, I am the Mum to two sparky, sunshiny little girls, aged 13 months and 2-and-a-half. They are very much loved, exhausting, funny, and the reason for all things.
I'm also the wife to an incredible man, who started off as my encouraging cheer leader, and has now well and truly wound up a partner in Arlo & Co. I run things by him, take business advice from him, admire him - and we now work together each night into the wee hours creating, packing, and building this little dream of mine, that has now become ours.
Before babes came along, I travelled a lot, slept in a lot, and wrote a lot. I worked as a primary school teacher and loved it. I'm very much a people person and so the opportunity to connect with - and create cool experiences for - pre-teen kids, was great. Interestingly, in the Insta-small-biz world, I come across teachers again and again. Teachers are an essentially creative and collaborative bunch, so I guess it's not surprising. Networking and connecting is in my bones. I ask too many questions, I think too much, and I like people. So shoot me.
Where did the name Arlo & Co originate from?
Those two little girls I mentioned? Well, each of them would have been Arlo (I think!) had they been boys. But alas, it wasn't to be. So, shop name it became instead. :)
Was it scary to start your own business and what advice can you offer others in the same position starting out?
I totally appreciate that starting your own business has potential to be a daunting and, yep, scary. For me though, that idea didn't really dawn on me until I was well and truly up and running. In the beginning, I didn't think about the notion that I was 'starting a business'. That may sound completely crazy - but Arlo & Co was something that I just fell in to, as a result of making what I wanted to exist and couldn't find elsewhere, and then being encouraged to share it with others. There were no grand plans, and almost zero expectations. My advice is simple: start somewhere, start small, and be totally open to learning and adjusting as you go.
It's a risk though, no doubt. And in the social-media-creative-maker business world - which is where I've landed - you have to be ok with putting yourself out there, in the hope that others will connect with you work, and love what you're doing. The best gift you can give yourself and your business, is the confidence to trust that they will.
Do you have a favourite product at the moment and what is your best seller?
Ha! If I told you that I'd have to kill you. ;) Seriously, though, our top sellers, and my personal favourites, change all the time. We find that people tend to come onto our site in search of one thing in particular, and leave with a bunch of other pieces.
What I love about our range is it's diversity and I really hope there is something for everyone. I do have a huge soft spot for our stone and wood prints. Doing their quality and texture justice through the lens of a camera is a huge challenge!
What have been the highlights of Arlo & Co so far?
Having people choose something you've designed and made - to enrich their home - is a huge thrill. It's a simple, predictable answer, but I'm not sure there is anything that can beat that.
Other than that? People. Two years ago I would have never believed that such strong friendships could be formed with people you've never met. But I was so wrong. I've been lucky to have had the opportunity to surround myself with, and collaborate with, the most amazing group of creatives who are encouraging, giving, and humble. They make the online small biz world a great place to be.
You are a major player on social media, any tips for us on how to promote our businesses effectively?
Oh gosh! Ha - I'm just a Mum, usually with paint in my hair and a baby on my hip. But the biggest advice I can offer is to be kind and courageous, and smart. In truth, I make it up as I go, and only know the common sense stuff when it comes to social media marketing: be real, work out who your customers are and what they might be interested in. And then give them that.
In the social media world, it's inevitable that you'll have good days and not-so-good days. You will have competitors - some will be threatened, others will be embracing. Shake off the negative, embrace the good, and take opportunities as they come up. Competitions can be really effective in expanding your audience in the beginning, and not limiting yourself to only one social media platform is also handy.
Above all, just focus on doing what you do. Encouraging others, making connections and keeping your tone positive and genuine are the most effective strategies I can think of, long term. Staying authentic and approachable and humble may be the hot cliché at the minute, but it is important. And if your business is still little, and you're just beginning, remember that ALL of us were there once, too. Keep going!
How would you describe your own personal interior style?
Ah! So, a brainless Facebook-style survey I completed the other week, came up with 'Californian Eclectic', I think. Whatever that is. But really, my preferences and style loves change ALL the time. Instagram and Pinterest in particular hold a wealth of inspiration and wow - and so I am constantly changing my mind about what I love. I am the world's most indecisive person. I want it all.
But, if it helps, our home is full of greenery, weaves, texture, white walls, and wood - and lots of art and typography. All purchased with grand plans, mind you, and all not-yet-quite styled how I'd like them. We're into comfort and warmth and art and clean - but I also live with toddlers. Gah - the dilemma! I don't know if that answers the question, but that's as much as I know. :)
If you were not running Arlo & Co, what would be your dream job?
Oh I have no idea! There are two million answers to that question. Anything with people; anything creative. Teaching, learning, exploring, connecting, creating - that's what makes me excited. If there is a job opportunity out there that combines travel, interiors, learning, people, cultural variety, flexible hours, and design - I'll take it!
What would be your favourite inspirational saying and why?
Ok, so I'm not even sure if this classifies as inspirational, but here's what popped into my head straight up:
Fill what's empty, empty what's full, and scratch where it itches. - Wallis Simpson.
A big fat thank you Gemma for taking the time out of your ridiculously busy schedule to chat to me. If you are the last person on earth not to be following Arlo & Co on Instagram you can do so here @arloandco.