Today we meet Tory from The Coconut Emporium. She lives by the ocean with her husband and three gorgeous children, Sonny (the sweetest sensitive one), Kainoa (the wild adventurous one) and Leilana (their little lady boss who loves to dance).
We interviewed her recently to find out about her love for the ocean and her ocean inspired wall hangings.
How were you inspired to start your small business?
I am lucky enough to live in a very creative pocket of the world and I’m surrounded by other Mums with (design based) small businesses, so I was firstly inspired (and encouraged!) by them.
The Coconut Emporium started to evolve not long after Leilani’s first birthday. I’d started to feel creative again, and inspired by our daily beach rambles and local environment, I began pottering around with a few different materials (including shells, sea pottery, fabrics and doilies etc) I’d collected over the years. I created a couple of different wall hangings (a framed mermaid + an Ocean Dreamer) for Leilani’s room, and to my surprise friends (and strangers!) were asking to buy them. Encouraged by this, I booked our first market and started an online Etsy store. Twelve months later I still absolutely love creating our wall hangings and am so thankful others are enjoying them too.
What would be your advice to other mums wanting to start a business whilst looking after their kids?
Choose something you absolutely love doing! It can be a little hectic and overwhelming at times trying to juggle family/ work life, but I am constantly motivated to keep going because I really enjoy creating our pieces!
Flexibility is also important when it comes to working around the kids, sometimes I’ll get a few hours during the day, other times I need to wait until they’re in bed asleep to get started on work. I’m pretty easy going when it comes to this and just make the most of the time when I get it.
What does your favourite family time look like?
With life being so busy these days between work, school, kindergarten, and sporting commitments it’s very rare for us all to be at home at the same time, so our favourite family time is when we are all together! It can be as small as dropping in with the kids to see Junior at work for a quick coffee, or other times when we can manage, we make an effort to do road trips and explore new areas, weather it’s for a day or a few nights, we always love a road trip!
Who inspires you?
Lately, for travel and photography I have been inspired by Chris Burkard. His movie ‘Under An Arctic Sky’ is incredible and has put exploring above the arctic circle and seeing the Northern Lights to the top of the bucket list! His Instagram feed to full of amazing photographs and tales of adventure.
For interior inspiration there are two little shacks I just can’t go past. ‘Captain’s Rest’ by Sarah Andrews is a total dream, she captures the magic of this place through her words and photographs so brilliantly, and I am obsessed. The ‘Little Black Shack’ set on a stoney cliff only accessible by boat, filled to the brim with treasures collected, it is my dream space, and if I could move in tomorrow I would, and stay forever.
And of course Kawaiian Lion, nobody does beach shack like they do!
What are some of your favourite things and why?
I love everything to do with history, old family postcards, ferry tickets, sea treasure, black and white photographs, old National Geographic magazines etc. A few of my favourite pieces include an old bottle I found washed ashore and tiny fragments of patterned sea pottery from local ship wrecks, I love dreaming about what life was like in those days, and the clues that photographs etc can give us.
My other love is whales. We are lucky enough to have humpback whales visit our local seas as they migrate during the Winter months. I’m hoping to get involved in some citizen science/ volunteer work this year tracking numbers and recording data, I’d like to put my hours and hours of observing them to good use!
Where are your favourite places to go with your family?
We are so spoilt for choice where we live, and are always drawn to the great outdoors and the sea. During Summer we enjoy evening swims in the bay or an early morning wander along the beach. During Winter we love to rug up and explore the ocean side rock pools at low tide, or ramble along the coastal walking tracks (always on the lookout for humpback whales cruising past!). Apart from that, the kids love checking out the old local forts and lighthouses and generally anywhere they can run and explore, and we always end up coming home with a new collection of sticks and feathers!
Which is your favourite piece you have made?
This is a tough question! I can’t go past the ‘Classic’ Ocean Dreamers, made from vintage lace + cotton, they are all so unique and special. Lately I’ve been really enjoying making our ‘Palmy Daze’ raffia wall hangings, they always take me straight back to islands of Samoa, and I’m endlessly dreaming of our next adventure there.
Check out Tory on instagram @thecoconutemporium and her Etsy store. We have bought some of her wall hangings and they are just gorgeous and so well made. All her hangings feature one-off often vintage fabrics which I think is so unique. Tory is also offering a discount code on her Etsy store.