Posted on by Scott Douglas

To get started, tell us a little about yourself!

I was born and raised in Adelaide and attended the University of South Australia where I studied a Bachelor of Design, specializing in Illustration. My very first year there was one of the most inspiring, as I studied subjects with students from other design disciplines including graphic design, interior design and industrial design. The degree helped to lay a good foundation for researching and exploring ideas and techniques. After graduating I found freelance illustration work with Adelaide advertising agencies, but through circumstance, turned towards a more traditional career in graphic design, with a focus later on digital design. I’ve had the privilege of working with some great clients, both new and established, on projects from identity design, through to packaging and digital design for the web. 

Tell us about your business (including when it was founded), the concept behind it and describe your aesthetic

I started One Hectare with my husband, Scott, in 2011. I had been working on mainly corporate projects for a design agency in Adelaide, and was looking for opportunities to explore my own illustration style again, with a personally driven project. With my background in print design, and Scott’s degree in environmental management, our focus was to create beautiful paper products featuring my illustrations, with a focus on environmentally and socially responsible production. Gradually we’ve expanded to include an extensive range of greeting cards, notebooks, prints on paper and more recently prints on plywood.

There are a couple of features which I believe make our aesthetic unique. Firstly, our consistent design style, combining contemporary design techniques and bold colour palettes, and secondly, our commitment to using natural textures and materials. Because we’re driven by these principles, our designs are less trend-based and more about creating pieces with longevity. It supports our theory that good design is sustainable.

The latest step in our journey for One Hectare has been opening our own retail studio. The space allows us to showcase and sell our full range of products the way we envisaged the brand being presented to consumers.

What is your study/career background? Is this a path that you thought you would take?

When I first started studying, illustrators and even graphic designers, were not yet working with the plethora of design programs available to us today. In fact, the majority of my study involved working with a pencil or paintbrush. So having a career in the design industry has meant being flexible and open to learning new methods of working. But the foundation of my study was a great opportunity to think more broadly about the design process and understand the history of design, which is invaluable.

Has there been anything that you didn't expect on your business journey so far?  Has your experience so far made you reconsider you career plans in any way - if so how?

There have been a few pivotal moments in our business journey. Firstly, selling our products in a wholesale environment was a very steep learning curve! However, it forced us to be accountable for the true cost of each product we sell and to be creative when sourcing new production methods.

Opening our first retail studio was our next greatest challenge, but we were supported greatly by the Renew Adelaide program, and almost one year later, having tested our business model, we’re a permanent fixture in the Regent Arcade.

What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of your business?

Without a doubt, having the freedom to create designs which reflect my own design aesthetic. While I love the structure and challenge of working with clients to help build their brands, having the flexibility to push our own product development is extremely rewarding.

What has been your highlight so far?

Winning industry awards for my illustrations has been quite exciting and a good validation of the quality of work we’re producing. The other highlight is seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they look at our work and provide positive feedback – who couldn’t love that kind of response.

How do you maintain the delicate act of work/life balance?

This is definitely a work in progress, I try not to regularly work in the evenings and on weekends. However, when you start your own business you need to accept that working evenings and weekends, along with investing financially, is part of the deal. Making the distinction between the studio and home is really important, our garage at home has become a workshop and warehouse for One Hectare. We’re lucky to have some very supportive grandparents, who are always willing to step into the fold to help out when work and family commitments collide.

Do you have a favourite or most sentimental piece - past or present?

‘Hoot Hoot’ was one of the first designs I created so that’s pretty special as it was the start of our journey into product design. It still remains one of the most popular designs in the series which also suggests we are achieving our goal of producing high quality design that can hopefully stand the test of time.

Who has been your greatest inspiration? Personally, career, creatively or otherwise?

My husband and business partner, Scott, has always had an unwavering belief in what One Hectare could be, which has really helped when we’ve experienced challenges along the way. Our personalities complement each other, and because we come from different career backgrounds, we’re both able to contribute to the business from a different perspective. He also knows when to give advice and when to give me space to make creative decisions myself – easier said than done!

What is your go to creative outlet and where do you find your inspiration?

We have a vast collection of books at home, from art, through to graphic design, illustration, interiors and architecture. I’m constantly inspired by complementary design disciplines, so not surprisingly, one of our shared favourite places to visit as a family is the Art Gallery of South Australia - it's also where Scott and I were married. 

What do you find to be the most positive aspect of the Adelaide community?

From our first experiences at markets through to opening our own retail store, we’ve found that the Adelaide community is extremely loyal. They have an appreciation of locally made, quality products and will choose to support South Australian made where possible.

You currently have a very cute store in Regent Arcade, how have you found your time there and has there been anything you didn't expect of the experience?

Because we started our store through the Renew Adelaide program, we had a really quick turn-around time in terms of being allocated a space and then having to set up for launch. So there was quite a bit of DIY involved, and the space is still evolving as we introduce new products and adjust the layout to best suit our customers. The other big change was adjusting to retail trading hours, as we’ve both previously had Monday to Friday 9 – 5 careers. We now have an even greater respect for small business owners (and in particular, those who manufacture their own product) as there’s a significant amount of effort and energy that’s constantly going on behind the scenes.

Name your store/designer/instagrammer crush of the moment?

I’m a big fan of colour, so it’s probably no surprise that I’m inspired by brands who also use colour in clever ways like Kate Spade, Orla Kiely and Marimekko. Each of these brands also has a great sense of identity, and a unique point of view, which is something we aspire to achieve with One Hectare.

This interview is an updated version of a feature that appeared on Twig + Olive Styling in 2016.