Combining her passions of creativity and art into a cohesive and free-flowing business named Belong Design, owner Rebecca Long (“Bec”) hopes to offer her customers with unique and original creations that will not only become a statement piece that captivates attention for its relaxing colour schemes and intricate patterns, but will also allow her customers to be able to enjoy the beauty of her creations for years to come. With a strong focus on making something with a sustainable approach and recycled packaging, it’s easy to fall in love with the vibrant and diverse aesthetic of items produced under Belong Design.
In anticipation of their appearance at the upcoming Gathered SA Markets next weekend (March 30 + 31), I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Rebecca via Jenna O’Dell (owner of Gathered SA) – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Who are the faces behind Belong Design?
Bec: I (Rebecca Hill) am the face of Belong Design. The name is a play on my name – Bec Long.
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Bec?
Bec: I have always had a passion for creating – whether that be art, sculpting or building furniture. My dad was a bit of an artist and a carpenter. Growing up, he renovated our home and built everything, which inspired me to follow in his footsteps. I finished my Diplomas in both Furniture Design and Interior Design after high school. I then worked in the building industry for the next 12 years, where I designed kitchens and bathrooms for people’s homes. I have always wanted to work for myself, creating art and re-designing old furniture, but I never thought that dream would be possible. After having my daughter Evie in 2017, I realized that I wanted to be at home to give her support in her young years and working from home part time would allow me the flexibility to do so. So, with the support from my husband, I started my business Belong Design and here we are a year later!
Tema: How long have you been running Belong Design for? How have you found the journey of your business so far?
Bec: Belong Design has been running for a little over a year now. I have certainly come a long way from the beginning and grown so much as an artist and designer. At times, there are super highs and then super lows, so it can be quite emotionally exhausting. But in saying that, it can be very rewarding too. So much work goes in to every part of the business, that sometimes you occasionally lose a sense of balance in life balance. It’s very satisfying to create unique pieces that your customers can enjoy – that’s the best part and to also do what you love for work.
Tema: What would you say about Belong Design to someone who may not have heard of you before? What do they need to know about your business, straight away?
Bec: I create original abstract artwork using a variety of mediums, such as resin, alcohol ink and acrylic paint. Commissioned art pieces are welcome. I have a range of home wares styled with resin that I can personalize in different colours and with lettering also. I love to up-cycle furniture and create new pieces with items thrown out.
Tema: What inspires you to create your beautiful custom designs?
Bec: Much of my inspiration comes from the ocean, it’s beautiful colours and fluid movement. Inspiration is all around us and I use my environment to create colour concepts and forms, a well as my emotions and experiences using colour.
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Bec: I often have a colour concept in place or a composition in mind, which gives me a place to start. I then follow my intuition and go with the flow. It’s a very spontaneous and liberating way to create art.
Tema: Are there specific combinations of colors that you use or is it a free-flowing process?
Bec: I quite often use blues and turquoise in many pieces, like the ocean. However, I do love to create vibrant contrasting pieces with many colours. It can depend on my mood on that day and what I feel like creating. My creative process heavily relies on my emotional state and I always seem to go back to blues.
Tema: How long does it take you to create something – custom or standard?
Bec: It’s hard to put a time frame on any given creation. Many hours go into researching, experimenting and perfecting the finished piece that eventuates at the end of this process. Some art pieces are created quickly and others I work on for hours or even over several days, till I am happy with what I see. I often leave the art in my house for some time and go back to it, add more, or completely change it. On those days where everything works, I totally wing it in the quickest time ever. I think this has a lot to do with my emotional state on that day.
Tema: Do you have a physical shopfront? If not, where are your products stocked at present?
Bec: My artwork, home wares and some furniture can be found at Market 33, Bimbo Norwood and also Red Poles at McLaren Vale. I can offer private in-home viewing and I would love to open up my studio once a month – this is a work in progress.
Tema: What are some products that are popular among your customers?
Bec: Currently, customers are loving my Mini Oceans, which are great for small spaces and can stand or be hung on the wall. The Resin-styled cheeseboards are a great option for gifts, along with my matching coasters, resin bowls and cheese knife sets. Large ocean scenes are loved by beach lovers and my acrylic on canvas large art pieces are also becoming popular.
Tema: I see that you offer workshops for customers to try their hand at designing their own products – will you be offering that at the upcoming Gathered SA market? If not, how is the workshop shaped to work?
Bec: I would love to offer resin workshops in future Gathered markets! While I won’t be offering a workshop at the upcoming market, I currently run my workshops at Market 33 – a gorgeous little shop at Glenelg with great coffee. I have one a month with a small, intimate group of 6, which I would love to increase to more per month, if the interest is there. I also provide group booking options and one-on-one sessions too, which are either held at my home or at my customers’ homes.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they purchase from Belong Design?
Bec: I wish for my clients to enjoy my art for many years to come. The art, home wares or furniture item can help them belong in their space and make them feel more at home. It makes me so happy to hear my customers are enjoying and loving the artwork or home wares that they have chosen or that I have created specifically for them.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding about being a small scale business in SA?
Bec: I think I love having the flexibility of time and freedom to create and to provide a customized service for your local customers. I also feel that, as a small scale business, I am able to be part of a community, where there is a high opportunity to meet other local creatives.
Tema: What do you think may be challenging about being a small scale business in SA?
Bec: The challenge is connecting possible customers to my business and getting exposure. Time and money can make it hard, especially if you are the only one creating and doing every part of the business. You end up wearing many hats and not always making enough money to compensate the work being done.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Bec: I feel people can connect with my art in an emotional sense, through colour and form. I believe I can take what a client requests and create a beautiful art piece that they’ll love. I can personalize home wares to suit them or others and even redesign furnitures to suit their home. I’d like to think that I can give them a unique item that no one else has and a unique gift too!
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers and your customers to know about Belong Design?
Bec: I’m constantly challenging myself by using different mediums or techniques and creating new home wares. I am very much into recycling and I am heading towards using recycled timbers in my homes wares range and expanding what I offer. Watch this space!
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by Rebecca Hill // Belong Design.
With thanks to Jenna O’Dell from Gathered SA