It seems to be a common thread with many of the people I’ve interviewed here that the creative pursuits they are currently doing were not what they did when they first started out. Is it because the usual route for many is a so-called ‘safe’ job or is it because many don’t have the confidence in or the ability to realise their full creative potential? Either way, I think if you can tap into a creative outlet sometime in your life – whether it’s as a profession or an after-hours hobby – it’s only ever a good thing.
For two girl friends, Lucy, a teacher, and Jasmine, a print designer it was the combination of wanting to start one’s own business (Jasmine) and the desire to be more creative (Lucy) that sowed the seed for their sustainable, versatile shelving design business, KUUB based in Melbourne. Realising each other skills and seeing a gap in the market they decided to specialise in whitewash shelving cubes made from 100% sustainably sourced Mango Wood collected from the demolition of old houses, factories or sustainable plantations. Each piece is interchangeable in colour and form and can also have interchangeable backing pieces in bright prints or bold colours. All the paints are water-based so no nasty chemicals are released; the wallpapers are FSC certified and printed with water-based eco inks; and the packaging is made from 100% recycled quality materials.
It’s a great concept that is both practical and stylish and admirable work from two friends who’d never worked together before! Come and meet Lucy and Jasmine …
Please introduce yourselves. What are your backgrounds and how have you ended up where you are today?
We’re good friends – Lucy and Jasmine. Meeting a long time ago in the tropics of Darwin we reconnected some years later and now barely leave each other’s sides. We’re both originally Victorian country girls and there’s certainly still a bit of the country left in us but having travelled the world and lived a city lifestyle the doors for inspiration are wide open.
We came together after the birth of Lucy’s little girl Aiva. Being a mum, Lucy left her teaching job and was looking for something where she could utilise her creativity, talk to people and have the flexibly needed to raise her family. At the same time Jasmine was working as a print designer for Myer and was looking to get out on her own two feet and start her own venture. We’re a great team – with Jasmine’s design experience and Lucy’s communication skills KUUB unfolded. Now each day is as exciting as the next as we continue to grow together as a whole.
How easy/difficult was it to go out on your own? What, if any, challenges did you face along the way – especially being two friends?
We’d love to say that it has been really easy to go out on your own and start a new business as partners. But the reality is … it’s hard. Being good friends before KUUB, we knew each others strengths and weaknesses. It comes as no surprise when Lucy forgets to email something, or Jasmine is late to the studio, ha ha, but we understand that life can get in the way sometimes and we need to have a good work life balance to succeed.
On the flip side, it also comes as no surprise that Jasmine stays up for two nights working on a print design until it is perfect. Or that Lucy can waltz in and land us the deals we need in 20 minutes. We have learnt to take the good with the bad and learn from our mistakes and know that it not only makes KUUB a better business, but makes us a stronger partnership.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give others wanting to do the same?
I think the best advice we could offer is to believe in yourself, know your dream and follow it until the end. There’ll be a lot of highs and lows, scares and questioning whether you are doing the right thing. It will be a lot of hard work, but be strong and stick to your goal.
Tell us about the importance of upcycling and sustainability in your work, work practices and home life? Explain.
Sustainability is a key focus for KUUB. We are both very passionate about the environment and both practice these beliefs in our day-to-day lives. Being eco-conscious ourselves, it was only natural that our product would also follow in these beliefs; it was almost an un-discussed expectation. With consumerism being such a huge part of society now, taking a stand in providing both an alternative product and also an avenue to promote awareness of the impacts and alternatives was a great incentive in starting out. We are working daily to continually improve our strategies, materials and processes to reach the highest level of sustainability. Our aim is to show that you can still achieve a modern, contemporary look while being environmentally conscious and supportive.
You seem to have covered off all the options for customised eco-friendly shelving in your KUUB ranges. Have you any other design ideas in the pipeline?
Ha ha, of course. We’re dreamers, our KUUB theme song is ‘Dreamer’ by Rodger Hodgson. For now we’re happy with perfecting our current ranges and working seasonally to create new colour palettes and exciting new print options. We’d love to expand our print ranges into eco-friendly soft homewares to complete the styling look, but this is in the future.
Our guilty pleasures are …
Lattes – we can’t go a day without one! In the colder months we’re definitely guilty of taking our work/meetings to Melbourne’s endless selection of cafes to warm up with a strong latte or soothing Chai.
What do you like to do in your spare time and are you able to switch out of business mode and hang out together on your days off?
We love catching up together in our spare time. It’s hard not to ‘talk shop’ but even if we are, we’re still having fun. We love having BBQs in the backyard or meeting up in the park with Lucy’s little two-year-old Aiva, who adores ‘Jazzy Pazzy’.
We’ve been friends for more than 10 years now. We’ve travelled the US together in a beat up Chevy Van, been through tough times and of course many great times and through it all have reminded ourselves that our friendship will always come first!
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
Everyday’s a ‘who’d have thought’ moment at the KUUB headquarters! We like to keep the buzz of things fresh, and everyday something new and exciting happens to keep us on our toes. Considering we started from absolutely nothing and had to learn along the way, I think the ‘who’d have thought’ will stick around for a while longer for KUUB.
All the best for the future of KUUB and thanks for your time Lucy and Jasmine!
To see more of their work, you can find them here.