Christine Callaghan and Skye Sturmfels from Cotton & Thread, have become one of my favourite small sustainable businesses I have come across on Instagram, since I purchased their fabulous copper feather cushion. It has become one of my staples for styling shots and I just added to it with the white linen copper feather and the copper luxe. They create a range of homewares, including sustainable handmade cushions which are a cushion addicts dream!
Located in Townsville, the store is online based and they also attend local market Label Traders which is Townsville’s first vintage, recycled and designer market. They create cushions and bed linen that reflect sophistication and luxury. Not only are their designs lovely, but the cushion inserts are made from 100% recycled water bottles, most fabrics used are 100% cotton or cotton blend, they make their own packaging from fabric off cuts left over from product creation, and plastic packaging for inserts is recycled from plastic used to protect fabric rolls from supplier.
The business has been open for just 5 months and they have already made an impact on the interiors scene, with their product lines often selling out before they can prepare for the next batch! In particular the metals range cushions are very popular.
Their story is a bit of a second time around, as before starting Cotton & Thread, Chris worked in an office for an earth moving company for 22 years and Skye is a primary school teacher, currently on maternity leave. The inspiration behind the business was the fact that they found it difficult to find quality, on trend and affordable pieces to decorate their own home with.
“We like to re-style and decorate our homes frequently and the pieces that we could find were out of our price range, which made re-styling a very expensive exercise. We decided to make our own, and after realising there was a gap in the market for luxury handmade pieces that were affordable, we started Cotton & Thread and haven’t looked back” says Skye.
As with most smart businesses, they split the tasks, with both part of product design, and Skye then taking on the photography, website maintenance, promotion through social media and attending to emails and wholesale enquiries. Once they have the designs, Chris creates the cutting patterns and sews all of the products, completes the quality checks and processes and posts all of the online orders.
If you are looking at starting an online retail store, the duo have some great advice about how to generate awareness of what you are offering, which is often the hardest part. You can have fabulous products, but if nobody knows about them, they will go nowhere. “We first started Cotton & Thread online and set up a website. Then we used social media to gain awareness of our brand and direct customers to our online store. After 2 months of fantastic feedback and most of our online sales heading to Melbourne, Gold Coast and overseas, we started to sell our products at the local markets to raise awareness of our brand closer to home” they explain.
Skye says that there is a strong sense of community in the Townsville area, which really helps develop a creative network and get your business out there. “We have found that other local business owners and stall holders (at the local markets) are very supportive and encouraging”.
When it comes to sustainability they both believe that providing quality pieces that stand the test of time is far more sustainable than cheap throw always that need to be replaced frequently. Quality products will stand the test of time and limit the need for them to be replaced. Also look for products that can be used in a variety of areas/rooms in your home. “Our products are designed in conjunction with each other. The pieces lend themselves to mixing and matching and are also versatile to move and work between multiple rooms within a home” explains Skye.
Their personal decorating styles are based around this philosophy with Skye loving to mix old with the new and Chris threading family heirlooms and contemporary pieces to compliment each other. The focus and feel of Cotton & Thread is “sophisticated luxury.” They recommend that for creating a sustainable home you choose quality over quantity and a buy once and buy well approach.
Some of their top picks from their own ranges include:
– Copper Lux cushion – the cushion that launched the beginning of Cotton & Thread.
– The newly released Marble cushion, which sold out in the first 2 hours and is now in its second restock.
– Duvet (doona) covers that are due to be released next month.
As with most of us, Skye says the biggest challenge in setting up and running their business is the juggling and balance between work, family and down time. When people see their products they usually say that they are of exceptional quality, on trend and they can’t believe that the business is by Townsville locals who make everything by hand!
*All Photography (except my home) – Click Went The Camera (Run and owned by Skye). Please note this is not a sponsored or gifted post. I have purchased all items from Cotton & Thread and just happen to love them.
I love the fact all the products are handmade by the girls and if they run out then you must wait until a new release. It makes them special and even more lovely.
If you could have anything at all designed on a cushion, what would it be?