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Meet two en­trepreneurs whose HOME­WARES brand is a tes­ta­ment to strong sup­plier re­la­tion­ships and never stray­ing far from their ETH­I­CAL bound­aries.

Collective Hub - - / 5 MINS WITH - WORDS SELISE MCLAGGAN WHAT HUR­DLES HAVE YOU FACED?

Af­ter build­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness cre­at­ing and sourc­ing art­work for ho­tels, Jas­mine Smith and her busi­ness part­ner, Leanne Pearce, de­cided to start their sec­ond com­pany. And so St Barts was born – a life­style store sell­ing “every­thing we loved to col­lect on our trav­els”.

It was 2008 and, while the duo were in the midst of fit­ting out five tow­ers in Abu Dhabi with art, the fi­nan­cial cri­sis hit – but at the same time, some­one asked them to open an art gallery.

“Ev­ery­one thought we were a bit crazy, as this was not the time to ex­pand – but some­times you have to just be­lieve, de­spite the odds, and take that chance,” says Jas­mine of the Gold Coast gallery.

Af­ter open­ing art space Gallery One, and re­tail busi­ness St Barts next door, the lat­ter has since ex­panded with a whole­sale range. And when the own­ers of their premises had a sec­ond site be­come avail­able, Leanne and Jas­mine opened a sec­ond shopfront in Bris­bane.

Here, we quiz Jas­mine on the de­tails of their ad­ven­ture so far.

YOU SOURCE HOME­WARES FROM IN­DIA, MOROCCO AND IN­DONE­SIA – HOW DID YOU REACH OUT TO SUP­PLI­ERS?

We found it help­ful to have an agent that can speak the lan­guage and ne­go­ti­ate on your be­half. Ini­tially it’s tough, as you’re reach­ing out and es­tab­lish­ing con­nec­tions for the first time, how­ever the more you visit a place the eas­ier it be­comes. Of­ten you meet peo­ple who have other con­nec­tions within the busi­ness, which can lead you to some amaz­ing re­la­tion­ships.

WHAT DO TH­ESE SUP­PLIER RE­LA­TION­SHIPS LOOK LIKE NOW?

Some vil­lages, I have worked with from the be­gin­ning, and they are like fam­ily now. I visit them three or four times a year to dis­cuss new de­signs and see what they’ve been work­ing on. Whilst I’m there I am al­ways look­ing for new in­spi­ra­tion and meet­ing new crafts­men.

We’ve had our share of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­abil­ity to sup­ply and ac­cu­racy with de­signs, but that is a part of sam­pling. It’s a chal­lenge but a fan­tas­tic learn­ing curve – and can even some­times lead to some happy ac­ci­dents!

HOW DO YOU HIRE SUP­PLI­ERS WITH ETHICS THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR OWN?

Mostly you can tell by just talk­ing to peo­ple what sort of ethics they have. If it’s a larger pro­duc­tion run for the whole­sale range, I visit the fac­to­ries and meet the work­ers and see their con­di­tions. If it’s small vil­lages, I sit with the fam­i­lies who are mak­ing the prod­ucts, I al­ways make sure they are re­ceiv­ing a fair wage. It is very im­por­tant that they can earn money and ed­u­cate their chil­dren, it’s some­thing I of­ten hear from the fam­i­lies we work with.

HOW DO YOU BRING CALM TO THE CHAOS OF RUN­NING A BUSI­NESS?

We have al­ways brought our best friends to work with us, our dogs. They al­ways calm a tense day and re­mind us how sim­ple life can be.

JAS­MINE SMITH

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