Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by Sara-Jayne Bellinger of Abode Wares
They’re the kind of home décor accessories that will raise your eyebrows for all the right reasons! Specializing in creating candles and pots with some seriously cheeky character, Abode Wares is a South Australian business that will be making an appearance at A Boutique Fair market on April 8 and at Gathered SA on April 14 / 15. So, if you’re looking for a bright, fresh, and sassy pick-me-up for the house, go visit Sara-Jayne over the next two weekends and grab some seriously awesome gear to spruce up your home!
Having recently found out about her business through the Gathered SA Style Challenge event a couple of weeks ago, I sought out to Sara-Jayne for an e-interview to learn more about her business and her inspiration behind some of her products – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell me a bit about yourself, Sara-Jayne?
Sara-Jayne: My name is Sara-Jayne Bellinger. I am a wife to a lovely man and mother to 3 darling children. I was born in Melbourne, but moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 4 years old. From there, I had a very culturally enriched childhood. Leaving for boarding school in Queensland when I was 12, I stayed in Surfers Paradise after school and graduated in tourism/hospitality. I then came to Adelaide when I was 21 and absolutely love it here! Life is fun, challenging, and has many rewards. I am now at a point in my life where I am at peace with who I am. I have found my tribe and I love them hard!
Tema: Upon browsing through your website, I can see that you offer a range of home décor products – how did you decide on what to include in your range?
Sara-Jayne: I started my business 5 years ago, with a home fragrance range of about 5 candles, reed diffusers and melts. Wanting to know what I was burning in my home was what inspired me to start up my own business “Abode Wares”. There are so many candles out there that are fueled by toxins and nasties. So, I wanted to create an all-natural based product. It was originally just for myself, family and friends, but, next thing you know, I started getting involved in the market scene and thought, “Wow! That was fun!”
My products were very well received by the public and I soon found a few stockists. My range grew quite quickly, as I realized that candles were saturated in the market scene. My love for Interior Design has come from working in a family business for over 10 years – styling houses with Bali imports. It seemed like a really smooth transition for me to introduce a few things here and there, after being to the Melbourne Reed Gift fairs many times.
Tema: What’s the process of making candles at home like?
Sara-Jayne: The process of making candles is really quite relaxing. I get a real sense of calmness from pouring each one. I’m always striving to get the perfect finish every time. I am in the Adelaide Hills, so I have the bonus of having the perfect backdrop in the form of picturesque vineyards….so that’s a plus in itself.
Tema: Let’s talk about the pot puns – did you come up with them yourself, did you get inspired by what’s already out there…or is it a mix?
Sara-Jayne: The Pot Puns……they are so funny and quirky! After being to the 2017 Reed Gift Fair and seeing so many indoor plant themed gifts, I wanted to introduce some kind of plants in my wares. My “naughty” candles are one of my biggest sellers, so it was a natural transition to want to put puns on the pots too. After a few cheeky glasses of wine with my girlfriends and husband, we came up with some great puns. Not hard really. My husband is a dad…..and lets face it….we all have dads with their funny (not so funny) jokes. Seeing my customers have a smile and a laugh reading my pots is brilliant! Putting a smile on someone’s face is priceless. I have seen a few others on the market now too, which is fine. There is plenty of humor to go around and I think a little competition is good for the soul.
Tema: What inspired you to set up your own business?
Sara-Jayne: Setting up my own business was really to do with flexibility – to be able to do what I love and work around my family. I do feel very lucky to be able to do this. I also work for my girlfriend, who allows me to choose my hours so, I really am blessed.
Tema: What would you like your customers to know by purchasing your products / supporting your business? How is it impacting you as a business?
Sara-Jayne: By purchasing from a small independent business, the owners really do do a happy dance. Unfortunately, there are so many brick and mortar stores closing down, due to the fact they just cant compete with the international market. It is such a shame really. My customers know that by purchasing from me, they are getting genuine boutique products, which are handmade, but are also of fantastic quality. They know that the quality control is there, and nothing leaves my home that I would not be happy with receiving myself.
Tema: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges of starting your own business? And what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs / small business owner hopefuls about taking that first step?
Sara-Jayne: One of the biggest challenges for me was to stick in my lane and TO BELIEVE in myself. To “be bold, be brave, be you”. It is scary, yes! But, it’s also very rewarding. There are highs and lows, but you need to keep your head up. You will always find people who will try to bring you down. My products speak for themselves. I know they are true to exactly what I want to create.
Tema: How did you get involved in the market scene? What do you find most rewarding about it?
Sara-Jayne: The market scene is AMAZING! What a buzz of so many talented people! Such a diverse group of men and women! It really is the best way of getting your business out there. The preparation in the lead up to markets is HUGE! For me, it has also been about networking with other people who do similar or completely different things to you. It’s like you become a little family. You all understand what each other has endured to get there. I also love the markets because you obviously meet new customers ALL THE TIME and to tell them about your products, having that one on one is so much nicer than just buying online.
Tema: What have you found resonates with being “proudly South Australian”? How does that make you feel?
Sara-Jayne: It is exciting to be a proud SA business. South Australia is full of amazing local producers, retailers and suppliers.
Tema: What are your future plans for Abode Wares?
Sara-Jayne: It’s thinking outside the square, following the market, finding growth and new ways of doing things.