09 Mar Sustainable Family Home Décor
We chat to co-creator and business owner Lucy McNamara about her sustainable and Australian-crafted home décor brand One Two tree and about raising a family in Bondi Beach.
One Two Tree all started when we began looking for our first Christmas tree. It was going to be our first Christmas as a family with our son Ziggy and we were looking for beautifully designed, well-crafted goods that would endure many Christmases to come. Chopping down a plantation tree for such a short time didn’t appeal and neither did the cheap plastic versions. We were looking for something more environmentally friendly, when it occurred to us that we could make it ourselves! So, we created our first tree using leftover hardwood from my husband’s landscaping contracts, tweaked the design and incorporated sustainable wood. Once we were finished, we realised we’d created a unique, eco-friendly, stylish alternative to the traditional Christmas tree.
We feature many of our products around our own home in Bondi Beach. My boys absolutely love helping to set up the Christmas tree each year and refused to let us take it down for weeks. Being a mother has inspired me to create good quality, sustainably-made products that kids can enjoy and decorate their rooms with, in particular the Treasure Board and Alpha Prints.
All of our products have a natural feel and are sustainably made in Australia using sustainable hoop pine sourced from Queensland. We have an amazing manufacturer based in Melbourne who produces all of our plywood goods. Our linen prints are all hand-sewn (with 100 percent linen) archival prints and printed using acid-free inks. The ceramics are all handmade using earthenware clay at our studio in Alexandria, NSW.
My background is in fine arts, film and television, sculpture, leather and fashion. After becoming a mum, since starting One Two Tree, I can now add product designer to the list. Creativity was always encouraged by my parents growing up, especially by my mum. She used to say I was a creative little thing, as I started handcrafting and designing things from a young age.
My kids inspire my work and the love of running my own business also keeps me inspired. I have a strong passion for design and creating beautiful interiors – beautiful objects for homes and for children. Having a broad range of customers but focusing on the children’s audience and seeing gaps in the market keeps me motivated.
A typical work day for me involves the alarm clocks going off at 6am, followed by getting the kids dressed, fed and bags packed for day care and if I’m lucky, breakfast for myself. I’m in the studio part-time – Antony and I decided to get the kids into day care after having baby Rhodes, so I could have three days to just focus on my work. The rest of the week, I’m home as a mum. There’s no typical day in the office for me. I work on everything from the design process to organising couriers, or replying to email enquiries. One day we can be crafting ceramics, or doing photo shoots – everyday is different.
Our studio is part of The Nest Creative Space, a communal creative space for artists, designers and small businesses. Everyone here is so hard-working and dedicated to their craft. It’s a very encouraging space and we’re so fortunate to be around such talented and delightful people – it’s a beautiful place to come to work.
The creative process for us is like a journey where things just sort of fall in to place. It’s a very organic process. We start off with an idea, research it, the design process goes back and forth and various iterations occur.
When I have an idea I have to see things from start to finish. Sometimes they happen very quickly, but sometimes they take months and months.
In 2016, we’re working on a set of Australiana-themed wooden toys and trinkets for our Treasure Board. Storage solutions and shelving designs are also on the cards for the year ahead.
I love being Creative Director and watching the journey of each product from concept to where they are now. One of the perks of the job is when customers share the pictures of our products in their home – knowing we’re designing sustainable products that people enjoy and want to decorate their homes with. Time management, running every single facet of the business and staying organised are still challenges for me. In saying that, I enjoy the freedom of having flexibility in the days I work and it works well with family as well. It’s hectic but I love it!
People often say parenthood changed them. Do you feel that’s true for you?
Absolutely, it’s made me work harder and it’s changed my perspective on life. You kind of go around with blinkers on before having kids and I think being a mother’s made me become much more patient, considerate and aware of everything around me. My favourite project to have worked on is being a mother – raising my two boys in conjunction with Ants.
We’re all about celebrating Australian motherhood and creativity at CHILD magazines. What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who’s also a mother?
I feel like I’m a part of a very creative team of Australian mothers who are fearless, fierce and not afraid of doing the hard work – we get in there and get it done! There’s amazing and inspiring things happening on Instagram at the moment – a huge community that’s full of homeware designers and talented Australian designers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with other mums who may be trying to combine their lives as creatives and caretakers?
There’s no rush! Take things in baby steps and somehow find a harmony and balance between being creative, being a beautiful mother and focusing on your children. Set yourself small goals, you definitely can achieve it!
Lucy McNamara, 35, is Creative Director and co-business owner of Australian sustainable product design brand One Two Tree, with her husband Antony. She’s mum to boys Ziggy, 4, and Rhodes, 2. They live in Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW, and love sharing their daily life via Instagram. You can see their latest handcrafted collection over at One Two Tree.
Interview by Jenna Templeton / Images by Lucy McNamara