From 'ten bucks a day' at the Paddington markets in the 80's, to stores and galleries across five continents and eight freestanding stores in Australia, London and New York. If that isn't the definition of tenacity, I don't know what is.
Here at SELFMADE, this is what is all about: having an idea, believing in that idea and making it happen. This is why I was over the moon when Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, founders and creators of Dinosaurs Design, agreed to let me access a piece of their creative minds and share it with you.
With their transcending devotion to art at the core of their lives, Louise and Stephen's inspiration has never stopped evolving, and neither has the concept behind Dinosaur Designs.
Both their homeware and jewellery collections have a profound connection with nature and are depicted by a minimalist colour splurge; environmentally friendly and utterly sustainable, for Louise and Stephen the transient side of fashion and art was never on the cards. Dinosaur Designs always kept it aesthetically relevant without falling into loveless trends. I think this was particularly possible thanks to their undeniable intellectual connection as a couple, and later as a family.
For Louise and Stephen Dinosaur Designs is not only a successful business, but a way of life, their life. Which takes us back to the main message this article wants to share with all the artists, designers and creative startups out there: for a business idea to work, you really do have to love it, nourish it and support it no matter what.
Q: You have been in the creative business for a very long time, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
L&S: Passion has been crucial. We’ve always felt that this is more than a job for us, it’s a way of life and our studio is an extension of our home. There are always risks involved, but it is important to make decisions in unison with research and your gut instinct. Sometimes a plan can look great on paper and all of your ‘what ifs’ have been answered, but somewhere inside it just doesn’t feel right for you or your brand. It’s not a precise science but you need to use everything you have available when you’re taking risks.
Q: DD is an incredibly well established brand in Australia and the US, so what made you choose the UK as the next destination?
L&S: The timing of London was just right. After having opened a store in New York, 14 years ago now, an opportunity in Europe appeared on our radar. We have a well-established customer base in the United Kingdom through past sales to Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Paul Smith. London has been building as a design hub for many years, so the location and timing seemed right. About two and half years ago we were approached by Craig Markham from Firmdale Group Hotels who were planning on an opening Ham Yard, a new hotel in Soho, London and invited us to open a store as part of their development.
Q: How have you landed such important collaborations in the past (such as the one with Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith)?
L&S: The Head of Louis Vuitton Events, Worldwide, Sue Loughy, is a passionate and long time fan of Dinosaur Designs and she conceived the idea as an auction item for their Barefoot and Black-tie event at Palm Beach in Sydney in the early 2000s. Her idea was a collaboration where we designed and hand made a set of chess pieces in our Sydney studio and the LV atelier in Paris would hand make a made-to-measure chess board and case. The final piece was auctioned on the night to raise funds for Care Cancer.
The collaboration with Paul Smith came about when he discovered our original New York store on Mott Street and contacted us about a collaboration. It was very harmonious working with him; Paul chose some of our pieces that he liked and we cast them in his amazing signature stripes.
Q: How do you go about marketing in your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
L&S: Having a very strong point of difference in the market has contributed to the support we have gained around the world from editorial teams. Since our inception we have been lucky that people have believed in what we do. Word of mouth is an extremely powerful tool and is definitely one of our most successful forms of marketing. This, together with editorial support and more recently the introduction of the digital world and social media, has provided us with the opportunity to create our own voice for an audience we know are believers in what we do. Collaborations have also been helpful in raising awareness and engaging with a market that may have not known about us.
Q: As you have started your business many years ago, would you say that bloggers and digital influencers have changed the advertising game, and how so?
L&S: Yes the advertising game has definitely changed with the introduction of social media and bloggers. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter allow you to have your own voice and communicate directly to a targeted audience for free. So much content these days is digested digitally that the power of traditional forms of advertising are facing strong competition. Bloggers have a powerful voice in the media and some are gaining a huge following. It is important for brands to recognise this audience for the talented, connected and passionate people they are and treat them with the respect that they are their audience deserves. On that note, we are big fans of Self Made and wish you all the luck with your future endeavours.