HOT Chat: Emmy Heikamp from Dutch Cargo Bike

By now you would have realised (a) I love bikes; and (b) I’m about to have a baby. So naturally I am very interested in baby-related bike stuff these days!

Today’s HOT Chat is with Emmy Heikamp, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Dutch Cargo Bike, a Melbourne-based company which has just started importing Bakfiets (as they’re called in Dutch) from the Netherlands. Thanks Emmy!

Emmy, tell me a bit more about your background and the story behind your business Dutch Cargo Bike?

I’m Dutch, so is my husband and our one-year old twins. We cycle everywhere and we already had a bike trailer but did not feel entirely comfortable with the kids behind us. We liked to have them close by and up front so the most logical thing for us to do was to get a ‘Bakfiets’.

The Bakfiets (or Dutch Cargo Bike) is very common back home in The Netherlands. Practically every mother with small kids has one. We looked and researched but we couldn’t find the original “Bakfiets” brand here in Australia, so that is how we started importing them. We are now the exclusive distributor of the Bakfiets brand in Australia and New Zealand.

What inspired you to move into the world of selling bicycles?

My husband and myself, like many of our friends, believe in living outside, not using the car unless absolutely needed and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. We want our kids to start life the same way and that means using bicycles as the main mode of transport! Whenever .. wherever!

For our kids in time cycling is going to be normal, being outdoors is going to be normal, and that is exactly what we want to achieve with the Dutch Cargo Bike concept.

What is special about the Dutch Cargo Bike that you sell?

The Dutch build, superior quality, the solid marine multiply wooden box, the light and easy handling and the proven design. That is a nutshell is what makes our bikes special.

The Dutch Cargo Bike “Bakfiets” has been the leading brand in Holland for the last 10 years. They have improved and upgraded the bike till perfection! So customers in Australia can rely on the thousands of happy customers in the Netherlands that have preceded them. Our range consists of a 2-wheel, 3-wheel cargo trike and tandem bicycles. The 2-wheel version is really the flagship of Dutch Cargo Bike.

The frame is handmade and powder coated in the Netherlands, all components are high quality Shimano such as the internal gears, roller brakes front and rear, hub generator for powering the light etc. Because of the fantastic design and quality this is one of the smoothest rides you will find. It’s amazingly easy and light!

The marine multiply wooden box and Dutch style frame gives it an authentic look. But even more important it is safe, your kids, pets or other ‘cargo’ will have a great time in the box, and you as a parent know nothing can happen as the wooden box will protect them!

And it just looks amazing, when you ride the bike everyone has a second look and you get a lot of big smiles, so you always arrive happy!

What are your future plans for Dutch Cargo Bike?

Importing the Dutch Cargo Bikes, Family Tandems and work cycles. We will market them in Australia and New Zealand through a combination of a network of dealerships and direct online sales. As the market grows we expect to sell more via dealerships and less direct. Quite straightforward really.

This is our business plan. But our plans for the future are bigger :–) Get all people and especially kids on the bike! Out of the car, achieve a healthy lifestyle and use the bike not only for sport and recreation but also for daily life.

I didn’t know how special the Dutch cycling culture was until we moved overseas. It would be great if we could participate in that culture change that Australia hopefully will go through even if it is going to take a few more years.

In the near future we are planning to organize a Cargo Bike event with all the cargo bike brands in Melbourne. There are a few these days. We don’t see them as competition but as co-workers in the “get on your cargo bike” mission!

Why do you like cycling?

Cycling is part of our culture, we don’t know otherwise than to cycle. Growing up in the Netherlands you cycle almost before you can walk. I love being outside, feeling the wind, sun and even rain against my face. Feeling your legs work when you go uphill and feel like flying going downhill.

Besides it is easy, just take your bike, no worries about parking, traffic jam etc etc. We cycle for sport but also to get a carton of milk. Drop your kids and crèche, go to work, and get groceries on the way back home, a quick and easy way of transport!

You can get perfect coffee on every corner of the street, so just take the cargo bike, kids in it, do some shopping and rest for a latte, read the newspaper and off you go, can you imagine a more perfect Saturday morning?!

Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?

Melbourne’s weather is perfect for cycling, besides roads like Beach Road have a perfect cycling path, you can cycle for ages with the beautiful view over the bay! Then stop at the Sandbar Beach Cafe (175B Beaconsfield Pde, Middle Park +61 3 9696 6334) it’s lovely to have a coffee and feel the sand between your toes!

Then cycle towards the other side on Beach Road, stop in Black Rock. There is a small playground so the kids can have a play just by the bay. Cycle on to Ricketts Point, great in summer, shallow water, and even small toddlers can have a great afternoon playing in the water!

We also like to take the train or cycle to Prahran Market with our cargo bike, do our shopping and have lunch at the market at Essential Ingredient. On Sundays sometimes we cycle to The Pantry in Brighton (bike parking just around the corner), have breakfast with the whole family and a stroll along Church Street afterwards.

Our other favourite haunts are the nursery on Bay Road Sandringham which has a gorgeous small café and the playgrounds at Thomas Street Park in Hampton and Dendy Park (Breen Drive, Brighton East).

HOT: Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Designer Series Show 4, Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston St, Melbourne

Show Four of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week explored the street style of the urban Melbourne palette. So naturally, black. The cliche is true, even for Spring and Summer collections Melbourne designers above., ALPHA60, Carly Hunter, Claude by Claude Maus, FAT, Jack London, Limedrop, Tesla and Trimapee brought us lots of midnight,  jet, raven and ebony. The hip and noticeably younger crowd reflected back with their own confident take on funereal hues.

Before entering this show I had the opportunity to try out the Napolean Perdis Beauty Lounge. Amazingly there was hardly any line for the expert makeup and hair touch-up, and it was nice sitting on the comfy couches watching the action while I waited. The makeup artist applied some blended neutral eyeshadow, rather severe looking bronze blush and crimson laquered lips. I was too embarrassed to take have my photo taken while in the chair but I was quite chuffed to receive a few compliments on my makeup afterwards – red lipstick is definitely my look.

Anyway, back to the clothes. For me the standabout show was Trimapee . I’ve never seen their clothes before and while I can’t say I would necessarily wear everything, I found myself excited by what was on offer. It was intelligent, conceptual and highly textural – it made me want to grab it, turn it over, look a little longer and see the interesting details starting to emerge. In second-place was above. I liked the burnt orange, cream and steel grey palette, I liked the cutouts in the back of garments and I liked the twisted draping.

And I was right about quiffs, yo. It was on the catwalk, it was in the crowd, male and female Elvis fringes abounding. Oh that and men with shoes and no socks is my prediction for the big trend for summer :–). Works well in St Germain Paris, not so sure about the Australian heat. Remember the talcum powder boys and no cankles please.

Once again, some of my favourite shots and a slide show at the end. Enjoy!

PS If you want a more detailed description of the looks on offer, check out the writeup from my date for the night, Poppy from Poppy Gets a Life.

HOT: Magnolia Square, Malvern Town Hall, cnr Glenferrie Rd and High Street, Malvern

Magnolia Square is a pop up market that comes to Melbourne a few times a year (and goes to other Australian cities) and it’s full of stylish goods aimed mostly for women. It’s mostly babies/kids stuff, with really ups the cute quotient, but there’s also handmade crafts, jewellery, clothing and gourmet food.

On my most recent visit to Magnolia Square I encountered some of the same stalls as my first visit, but happily also stumbled across some other new goods. Here’s what caught my eye and what went into my shopping basket this time:

Clucky handmade babies’ toys, blankets and clothing. I fell in love with the crochet rattle (more chewable than plastic presumably!) and the baby duck. Luisa, who handmakes all of the products, also told me that she’s about to start ‘Clucky Cravings’, a line of food to meet the cravings for mums-to-be.

Rabbit & Duck. Shannon handmakes all of her cushion covers, notebook covers, wallets and cases from pre-washed fabric. Being a cycling fan, I was immediately drawn to her bike-bedecked A5 notebook ($45) and told her that she should considering making tote bags for cyclists :–)

I spotted the last red polkadot raincoat made by Suzy Allen ($65) and kept circling around it for a bit before deciding to buy it. Suzy is from Brisbane and stocks a couple of stores on the East Coast with her girl’s trenchcoats, dresses, skirts and t-shirts.

Make Me Iconic. Natasha Skunca uses young local students from Sydney and Melbourne to design iconic city images and prints them on posters, cushion covers, tea towels and mugs  – from the Nylex sign to vintage Melbourne tram rolls. For a gift I bought a Skipping Girl mug ($20) and matching tea towel ($25). In about 2 months’ time she’ll be launching the wooden W-class tram complete with colourful passengers and a tram conductor!

Chook Leaf leather children’s footwear and accessories from Mornington. My camera ran out of battery at this point, so here are some images of their adorable shoes.


via Chook Leaf

I have a bit of a fixation on French kids’ clothes (well, French clothes generally), and whenever I got to the Paris sales I’d buy beautiful items for my god-daughter. Now that Paris is far, far away, I can shop at Castlebox, a new Melbourne-based range of vintage French-inspired fashion for kids aged 3-10 years.

via Castlebox

Finally, from Black Eyed Green, the Eco Cradle made of corrugated cardboard and flat-packed for easy travel. I also liked the other items from the range such as the flat-packed bench and table and Feedaway high chair.

via Black Eyed Green

If you missed out these markets, mark the following dates in your diary for the next Melbourne markets – 21, 22 and 23 October at Malvern Town Hall and 2, 3, 4 December at St Kilda Town Hall.

  • Magnolia Square, Malvern Town Hall, cnr Glenferrie Rd and High Street, Malvern

HOT: BikePark, Vault 15, Banana Alley vaults, Melbourne

Despite the best efforts of organisations like Bicycle Victoria and various councils and state governments, not every workplace has facilities for cyclists who want to commute to work. I know, I’ve worked in places that ranged from providing individual lockers and numerous showers, to being told to just park my bike outside on the street and with one unisex shower that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

If you work in the Melbourne CBD and your workplace doesn’t have adequate bike parking facilities, BikePark might be the place you’re looking for. BikePark is a secure bike storage space located in vault 15 of the Banana Alley vaults, accessed from the Yarra side of Flinders Street station near Queensbridge, and I visited there recently when I went to chat to them about CycleStyle and to give them some business cards for their reception area.

The facility holds 150 bikes and is accessed by secure swipe card, with CCTV monitoring in all public areas. A casual user has access 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM for $6 a day (not including locker or towel hire). Registered members for 1, 3, 6 or 12 month periods have 24/7 access for approximately $7 a day, and you will get allocated your own parking space, a locker where you can keep your clothes and toiletries and free towel use. All change rooms have hairdryers, irons and ironing boards so you can go to work wrinkle-free!

In addition, BikePark provides complimentary hot drinks, pay as you go next-day valet laundry service and convenient access to bike mechanics who will pick up your bike, service it and return it to BikePark. To expand their offering beyond a mere parking facility, for serious cyclists they have also just started morning spin classes with professional cycling coaches and upcoming events include basic DIY maintenance, talks for women cyclists and a bike safety course.

To find out more, check out BikePark’s website and Flickr stream and keep up to date with Facebook and Twitter.

(This post was originally published CycleStyle’s blog. All images from BikePark)


HOT Spots Winter 2010

P1050628v1Once again the City of Melbourne have produced a free pocket-sized booklet full of lots of ideas to inspire you to get out of the house and enjoy winter in Melbourne. This is a post to bookmark!

I sat down with a cup of tea and flicked through the booklet, which you can pick up at many inner city shops, cafes and bars, as well as the Melbourne Visitors Centre, NGV and ACMI. It covers new places and old classics split up into five geographical sections, some of which have been reviewed on the blog before and some of which I’ve earmarked for a visit. Here are my highlights:

Central

The Wheeler Centre. The new heart for Melbourne’s literary culture, the Wheeler Centre holds frequent author’s talks, some of them free. I’m going to hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak on Thursday 29 July.

Melbourne International Film Festival. I look forward to MIFF every year – for three weeks I get to hibernate in the city’s cinemas and feast on great films. Last year I managed to get to fifteen of them!

Previously blogged Izakaya Den, Tessuti Fabrics and Movida Aqui get a mention and I’m aiming to hit pizza specialists Barbagallo, new bar 24 Moons and hot new Mexican eatery Mamasita (again, with better lighting).

Northside

The North Melbourne Market has become a regular event held every two months. So many new options for me here – cheese galore at La Latteria, take home cassoulet at La Parisienne Pates, authentic Indian food at the Classic Curry Co, browsing vintage furniture and bric-a-brac at The Junk Company and having a pub lunch at Hotel Lincoln.

Cultural

I’m not going to see Mary Poppins the Musical because I saw it recently in London, and it was one of the most magical, fun and joyous theatrical events I’ve ever been to. When Mary Poppins flew into the air the whole crowd spontaneously broke out into cheers! Highly recommended.

And I’m definitely going to try Tsindos, a 30-year old stalwart of Little Greece in Lonsdale Street and I’m told home to great mezethes.

Westside

I was excited to hear about Urban Reforestation, a community garden, eco shop and educational centre in the middle of concrete-and-glass Docklands. Their aim is to inspire urban farming for sustainability and food security (they’re currently investigating the possibility of rooftop farms!) through consultation with corporates and for helping individuals with gardening lessons and cooking classes.

I think I’ll combine a visit to Urban Reforestation with a stroll around the Docklands Sunday Market and maybe a late lunch as part of Slow Sundays, where you get a $15 tasting plate with beer or wine between 2-6pm every Sunday from 20 June – 29 August.

Southside

I’ve just renewed by NGV membership so I will be heading to NGV’s Winter Masterpieces 2010 European Masters: Stadel Museum 19-20th Century between 19 June – 10 October.

ACMI is hosting a huge Tim Burton exhibition direct from New York’s MOMA from 24 June – 10 October which I’m quite excited about.

State of Design, Victoria’s design festival, is happening between 14-25 July and once again I’ll be immersing myself in all things design for two weeks. As part of the festival Melbourne Open House is on 24-25 July where lots of heritage buildings will be open to the public – a great way to learn some of the stories and history behind the city.

Last but not least, Melbourne Design Market is happening at Federation Square carpark again on Sunday 11 July. This year will be extra special for me because the lovely Kath and Ben from Jellybean Bikes and my new cycling clothing and accessories business CycleStyle will be setting up a cycle-licious stall at the market! Come and say hi.

For details and more winter ideas, check out That’s Melbourne.

HOT: Costco Wholesale, 381 Footscray Rd, Docklands

Costco was nothing like I expected.

What I was expecting was an outsized version of Aldi, full of cheap generic goods imported from random Eastern European countries, rather than name-brand products. I was expecting it to be large, but not the size of a football field. I was expecting an eclectic assortment of items, but not jerry cans of Chupa Chups or a giant 9kg Toblerone.

What can I say? It was fun having my expectations put aside by the Costco experience.

My friend Kimberley is possibly the only person I know who lives alone in an apartment in the inner city yet has a membership to Costco. Most of the clientele I can safely say live in suburbia with a couple of kids and a station wagon/people-mover/ute in tow. So I think it’s slightly bizarre that Kimberley’s become a Costco evangelist. I was convinced to go with her the day after I moved into my new house and was faced with no muesli, toilet paper, laundry powder or butter. I didn’t take much convincing to be honest, because I’ve been a bargain-hunter and bulk-buyer from way back.

You know that everything is going to be big, big, BIG as soon as you grab one of the double-width supermarket trolleys. Being my first trip to Costco, Kimberley patiently wheeled me through almost every aisle in the aircraft hanger as I squealed at the baby grand piano, an outdoor patio and giant apple pies. It was quite mad to be honest – I kept on having to say to myself ‘put that DOWN, Joyce, you do not need a tissue cashmere scarf or that copy of David Thompson’s Thai Food’. It was like an amusement park for bargain shoppers.

After 2 hours, my very successful haul included an Epsom printer, a set of Pyrex dishes and more mundane things like a mop and a large supply of toothpaste, toothbrushes and AAA batteries.  Everything = bargain and a month later I’m still working my way through most of the items. Book me in for another Costco trip in 6 months, Kimberley!

HOT: Little Creatures Dining Hall, 222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Most people know of Little Creatures through their beer, so it’s great to see this WA-based boutique brewery branch out into a natural partnership of Little Creatures beer served with good pub grub in Melbourne.

The Little Creatures Dining Hall is no run-of-the-mill boozer though. It’s a lofty warehouse converted into a friendly diner, with low booths and easygoing wooden tables and chairs. On the Sunday of our visit it was filled with families and I can see why – the atmosphere is relaxed and hums with enough noise so there’s no need for kids to be hushed, there’s space for running antics, plenty of interesting paraphernalia to poke through and the aisles are wide enough to fit prams.

That’s not to say that it’s just an upscale version of McDonalds though. Firstly, of course, there’s a strong focus on beer and you can do a tasting of all their beers by buying 125ml ‘ponies’ of each.

Little Creatures Dining Hall, 222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Secondly, the menu, while not being particularly challenging, does go beyond burgers and fish and chips. I tried the pizza with chorizo, feta and unusual pops of sweetcorn ($19), RM had the melting lamb shanks and we share a large bowl of chips ($8) which I was pleased to see still had their skins on.

Thirdly, and this is my favourite, they hire out classic Swedish Kronan bikes for free to anyone who wants them. You don’t have to eat or drink at Little Creatures – just leave an imprint of your credit card and return the bike by sundown/around 6pm (if you don’t return it, you’ll be charged $1000 a bike – you’ve been warned). The bikes come with locks, helmets and back racks. What a great neighbourhood scheme!

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

HOT: Lost & Found Hotel Room, Little Collins Hotel, 27 Lt Collins St, Melbourne

I live and breathe Melbourne almost every day of the year and this blog is my way of sharing a bit of Melbourne with my local, interstate and international readers.

However, I think possibly an even better way to share the best of the city is to create an experience which is all about Melbourne.

The Lost & Found Hotel Room is a novel concept from Right Angle Studio, the people behind the Lost & Found e-newsletter for Tourism Victoria. The premise is fabulous – a hotel room at the rather shabby 70s style Little Collins Hotel which has been especially appointed by curator Georgina Hobart with all things Melbourne – from the bathroom products from Aesop (each lucky guest receives a Jet Set pack, one of my favourite Aesop products) and ceramics by Shelley Panton

….the Miranda July pillowcases from quirky Fitzroy store Third Drawer Down, bed linen from Linen & Moore and bedside lamp by furniture makers Pierre and Charlotte

…a cosy reading chair and tripod lamp by Temperature Design

…and assorted artworks from gallery Utopian Slumps.

If you’re feeling peckish as you listen to the curated collection of vinyls of Melbourne bands (including Crayon Fields, My Disco and The Emergency) or flick through the culturally enriching reading material, you can delve into the nibbles from Mount Zero, pour yourself a glass of red by King Valley’s Pizzini Wines or sip tea from Brunswick specialist tea purveyors Larsen and Thompson.

Two of the four walls comprise floor-length windows streaming sunshine into the room and provide expansive views of Little Collins Street and the succulent balcony planters built by Flatland and planted by Melanie Stapleton from Cecilia Fox (who also changes the interior flower arrangements once a week).

If you fancy leaving the room (and I’m not sure I would, it’s just such a relaxing city sanctuary) then the cultural concierge is there to help you make the best of Melbourne. Before you check-in you are asked to complete a questionnaire to provide some information about your interests, and the cultural concierge will give you a list of suggestions and ideas for your stay.

Guests are also invited to contribute to the guest book by taking the provided camera and to uploads snaps and descriptions of the places they visit.

What total bliss.  And the price for such a wonderful stay? It’s free!

All you have to do apply for a reservation between 1 June and 31 August. The only catch – as it’s ultimately a tourism promotion you probably have a better chance if you’re from interstate, have a strong social media/online presence and work in the creative industries. They’ve received 2500 applications for every week, so competition’s tough!

Thanks to Lost & Found Hotel Room for allowing me to access the room before it was open to the public. Note that I didn’t get to stay there (my application has been rejected twice, boo) so I can only vouch for the beauty of the interior decoration and can’t attest to the comfort of the bed or whether it gets really cold at night. I got to stay! Here’s a review of my mini-break in the city.

HOT: Bloom Organics launch, Bloom Flagship Store, 574a Chapel St, South Yarra

Bloom Cosmetics has always been about taking a natural approach to beauty, so the launch of their new organics range, Bloom Organics, is a natural extension of their business philosophy. I was invited to the digital media launch in Bloom‘s pretty flagship store and had the chance to sniff, feel and test the products and to meet Natalie Bloom, the owner and founder of Bloom Cosmetics.

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Bloom Organics has been a passionate project for Natalie for three years and Natalie has personally  developed every formulation in the Bloom Organics range. For her, organic skincare products are the step into the future – it’s about using the power of nature to nurture the body and to help care for the environment at the same time.

You may or may not know that there is currently no Australian legislative standard for what is classed as an organic product, so there are many beauty products in the market which claim to be organic when in fact they only contain minor amounts of organic ingredients. For Natalie it was most important that she did not participate in this sort of consumer ‘green-washing’, so 17 of the 20 products in the Bloom Organics range are certified organic by Australia’s largest certifier of organic products, Australian Certified Organic. ACO’s standards require that certified products contain 95% or more organic ingredients and the remaining 5% must also meet strict requirements of being only naturally produced products and/or natural, non-toxic preservatives and additives. That means the majority of Bloom Organics‘ products contain no artificial fragrances or colours, parabens, petrochemicals, sulfates, mineral oils, silicons and are definitely not tested on animals.

Three products have not achieved certification mainly due to the fact that they are water-based formulations and thus require particular preservatives to make them last – and the labelling clearly indicates the percentage of organic ingredients contained in the product, from 81-94%. Natalie said that until she is able to get the formulations right, she did not want to compromise performance for the sake of receiving certification.

The care taken with the range extends beyond the product. The beautiful floral packaging (designed by Melbourne artist David Band of Mahon & Band and displayed fetchingly in the store’s light installation) is printed on recycled cardboard using vegetable-based ink. There are plans for a recycling program, which I’m most excited about as I often wonder about the waste I create when I throw out my empty cleansers and body lotions.

Furthermore, Bloom Cosmetics the business are acting on their green beliefs by switching to accredited green power, investigating supply chain transport alternatives and offsetting the carbon emissions of air travel.

While there are no plans to make Bloom Cosmetics are wholly organic brand at the moment (it is particularly difficult to develop organic cosmetics), Natalie said that it was important for her that her customers at least had the choice to use organic products.

Having met Natalie and members of her team at the launch, I very much respect their passion and integrity in their way of doing business. It would have been easy just to slap an ‘organic’ label on a product without certification and market the organisation as being caring and environmentally-friendly, while behind the scenes there was no real change. I guess when your name is also the name of your brand, it is critical that you believe in what you do and you back up what you say with real actions.

Oh and by the way in the launch goodie bags we received a jar of All Purpose Body Balm (Natalie’s favourite) and Rosehip Oil (their ‘hero’ product’), and I can vouch that the lovely-smelling body balm has already been put to good use on my cold-chapped hands :–) If you too fancy trying out the Bloom Organics range or any other Bloom Cosmetics products, they’re offering MEL: HOT OR NOT readers a discount of 20% off all products in their online store. Just make sure you include the promo code MOB0510 at checkout.

You can find out more about Bloom Cosmetics by reading their blog, joining their Facebook page and following them on Twitter. You can also click here for my recent interview with Natalie Bloom.

  • Bloom Organics launch, Bloom Flagship Store, 574a Chapel St, South Yarra +61 3 9421 0200

HOT Chat: Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics

Bloom_Header

Today I’m super excited to interview Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics!

Natalie is a Melburnian who started out her eponymous business in 1993 from her parent’s home and has now built her brand into an internationally recognised range of over 300 cosmetics, skincare and bath and body products.

I received a Bloom lip gloss palette one Christmas and have been a big fan of their prettily-branded products ever since. Bloom Cosmetics are always innovating and expanding their product range and their latest release is the Australian-manufactured Bloom Organics body products.

I’m so thrilled that Natalie has taken time out from her busy schedule to speak to me today. Natalie’s entrepreneurial spirit, obvious passion for her products and social media savvy are a huge inspiration for me as a budding online business owner. To be honest I’m slightly in awe. Thanks Natalie!

Natalie Bloom HeadShots 003Natalie, tell me a bit more about your background and the story behind Bloom Cosmetics?

After studying Graphic Design, I found myself working in a small studio. As the work was terribly uninspiring, I started creating and selling homemade cards and gift ideas in the hope I would feel more creatively satisfied.

I didn’t have a long term strategy and simply produced quality products that I was passionate about and that had a strong design sensibility. Before I knew it my range grew to include Essential Oil Blends, Massage Oils and an Aromatherapy Lip Balm. The Lip Balm evolved into a full lip category, then came eye products and soon a full cosmetic line was on the horizon.

At the time, I never dreamed that Bloom could become a global success story. However, as I became more strategic my hobby turned into a business – and there has been no looking back since!

What’s the philosophy behind Bloom Cosmetics and the products you sell?miss_romance2

Bloom is an approachable beauty brand for the young at heart that inspires through its whimsical and creative spirit. We are obsessed with creating innovative products that are directional in concept, design and that include a dose of botanical goodness.

From designing greeting cards and gift ideas from your parent’s home you’ve now built a brand which is stocked in US, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

Firstly, you have to love what you do. If you’re not passionate you can’t sustain your business and keep it going through the hard times. And secondly, whatever you do, do it with integrity.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your 17 years building Bloom Cosmetics and what have you learnt from your experiences?

In the early day, one of the biggest challenges I faced was staff management. As the business grew I soon realised that I couldn’t keep doing everything myself and that I needed to employ staff.

But at the age of 22 and having had no previous experience in running a business, I didn’t know much about putting together a team to support my vision, management and leadership. So that I could get up to speed as quickly as I possible, I sought out several mentors who could share with me their insights. Even though Bloom is now more than 17 years old, I don’t think you ever stop learning. I continue surrounding myself with inspiring people that can offer an insight I might not have thought of.

What’s a typical work day for you?

Whilst I’m still incredibly hands on at Bloom, no two working days are ever the same. The only similarity is that there is always a demanding mix of meetings and creative brainstorming sessions on product, business and brand development to attend!

All Purpose Body Balm

You’ve just released a new range called Bloom Organics. What was your inspiration for branching out into organic products?

The Bloom brand has always had its grassroots in essential oils and botanical ingredients. But now more than ever, consumers (me included!) are interested in and want to be educated about organic and green products. They are reading labels and looking for buzzwords when shopping. They want to change but don’t necessarily know how.

It was from this consumer insight that the seed for Bloom Organics was sown. We saw an opportunity to be an educator. To become a wellness, eco and ethical champion. And above all else, use our voice to create change.

Soap - Fresh Citrus

What makes these products special in your view?

There are so many wonderful layers to Bloom Organics that it’s hard to single out just one thing! I am incredibly proud that this range has steadfast integrity and that 17 of our 20 formulations are independently endorsed by Australian Certified Organic, this country’s largest certifying body. I love that we were able to collaborate with Mahon & Band to design packaging that conveys a fresh spirit that breaks with the conventions typically associated with organic skincare products. But most of all, I find it so rewarding that we’ve created a range that reflects my belief that living organically is not just a trend, it is a lifestyle. I feel like Bloom Organics enables me to do my small bit to encourage people to tread more softly on the earth, to think what they consume and take small steps to protect our future.

Lip Balm

What are you next plans for Bloom Cosmetics?

We are already working on new product launches for 2011 which includes additions to the Bloom Organics collection as well as our ever-popular colour cosmetics range.

Finally, you’re head of a worldwide company but born and bred in Melbourne. What HOT places and things do you love about your home town?

  • When I want to shop, I always head to Gertrude and Smith Streets!
  • I know it’s the flavour of the month with many Melburnians, but we recently had a stand out meal at Hellenic Republic (34 Lygon St, Brunswick East +61 3 9381 1222). I love their no fuss approach while still remaining true to a traditional sensibility.
  • Lawson Grove (1 Lawson Grove, South Yarra +61 3 98663640) is hidden in a quiet cul-de-sac just around the corner from my house. It’s the perfect spot for coffee and a sweet treat and was my ‘home away from home’ when I wrote my book Beauty in Bloom.

You can find out more about Bloom Cosmetics by reading their blog, joining their Facebook page and following them on Twitter.

For chats with other interesting Melburnians, click here.

(All images from Bloom Cosmetics)