When Emily Heysen’s passion project became a roaring success, she quit her full-time job to run her own business…
Five years ago, when Emily Heysen starting pouring her own candles to sell in the clothes shop she was running, she could never have imagined they’d propel her into running her own business.
“I had a small clothing store in Melbourne, and wanted to stock some candles,” she says. “But I couldn’t afford the cost of the minimum order, so I started making my own at home. They sold so well that my whole apartment became a candle factory. I was making them every night to keep up with demand.” Then, on a trip to Turkey, Emily spotted some jewellery she liked and started to collaborate with the makers. “I designed the pieces, and they made them. They also started selling really well in the shop.”
The success motivated her to set up Inartisan, a homewares company whose aesthetic is inspired by the Australian bush on the outskirts of Melbourne where she grew up. The range quickly expanded to pottery and furniture, and when Heysen moved to Sydney to be with her partner, she found a warehouse space in Sydney to show her products.
After 10 months of working on Inartisan alongside her full-time job, Heysen fell pregnant with son Otis, now one. “I was working seven days a week and every evening,” she says. “I decided to dedicate myself to Inartisan full-time.”
Inartisan's homewares aesthetic is inspired by the Australian bush on the outskirts of Melbourne, where founder Emily Heysen grew up. She now runs the business from Sydney with her 1-year-old son Otis.
Learning to juggle a growing business and life as a mum has been “a big learning curve”, but after growing up in an entrepreneurial family, she’s happy to embrace the challenges thrown at her.
“Otis has come to the shop with me since he was two weeks old,” she says. “He comes to all my meetings, sits in his high chair with some lunch while I paint, and crawls around the shop having fun. I’ve had to readjust my expectations of how much I get done in a day, but running my own business is great because it means I can be flexible. If he doesn’t want to be in the shop or needs a nap, then that comes first. I put everything else down and can keep going in the evening when he’s in bed.”
This flexibility has worked in her favour and the store is going from strength to strength. As well as selling online and to other stores, Heysen now has showrooms in Sydney and Melbourne, and five staff working for her – who all enjoy having a baby in the showroom!
Learning to juggle a growing business and life as a mum has been “a big learning curve” for Emily, but having her son Otis by her side has seen Inartisan go from strength to strength in homewares online and Melbourne & Sydney stores.
Heysen no longer pours her own candles as “the smell was too much when I was pregnant”, but she still oversees the in-store production. As the ranges at Inartisan grow, she’s committed to sourcing ethical and well-made products both locally and internationally.
Inartisan’s cards and wall art are printed on locally made paper, by local screen-printers, while Inartisan’s furniture is handmade from reclaimed timber in Java. “I travelled to India, Turkey, and Indonesia to set up relationships and visit all the people who are making products for us,” she says, adding that all their products are sustainable and Fairtrade. “The makers are paid properly. It’s lovely working on things that are made in small quantities rather than mass-produced, and are made to last.”
As well as the custom furniture they have just started offering, she’s particularly proud of Inartisan’s new Longpi Pottery range, made by young tribal artisans in India, as the success of the range has helped create sustainable incomes for these artists’ futures.
Emily and her homewares business Inartisan are committed to sourcing ethical products both locally and internationally. She's particularly proud of Inartisan's new Longpi Pottery collection, crafted by young artisans in India.
Heysen hopes that Inartisan will continue to grow in this direction. “We’re working on fit-outs for restaurants and hotels, and always looking for new opportunities,” she says. “I’m very lucky to do something I love…and to be able to have Otis with me.”
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