When you think of lockers, grey, boring and something to store old files come to mind, right? That is until you see Mustard Made’s lockers. Think bold colours, funky designs and the perfect addition to any space in the home or office.
Sisters Becca and Jessica Stern started their new brand a couple of years ago, after Becca had her second son Ellis in 2018 and Jessica had come down from London to meet him.
“We dreamed up the idea of a locker brand because I loved vintage metal furniture and had a bunch of old, rusty lockers in my home and studio that I adored but weren’t very practical,” Becca enthuses.
“Jess wasn’t convinced at first but soon came round. Six months later we were in China with Ellis and six months after that we launched our products at a trade show in Sydney.”
Indeed, introducing their lockers to the market at Life Instyle Sydney was the best thing they could’ve done as people were buying, complimenting them and genuinely excited about their products. It was a huge moment of achievement for them both, says Becca.
“We also get to work with brands and businesses we genuinely admire―from the brands we collaborate with to the independently owned stockists and even our factory and warehouses, we love the people we get to work alongside and feel very honoured to have found such good people in business. Also seeing our products in shops we adore is still so surreal, we dreamed of being in Libertys and now we are.”
It’s the little features such as hooks in the doors, the cute keyring or the colour palette they use that make Mustard Made’s lockers stand out from the crowd. They are strong and created to be easy to assemble as well as really versatile and flexible. And then of course there is the name, which came to Becca when she was in the car.
“I tend to mull over things, giving myself time to allow ideas to come to me. I call it ‘incubating’, you can’t always rush these things. I knew that our brand and products were going to be all about the colours.
“One day I was driving and day dreaming about the colours we could make lockers in and the word ‘mustard’ popped up. I’ve always had a thing for words that have double meanings and I loved that it’s got a few―it’s easy to spell and remember and something that some people love (as a colour or condiment) but it’s not for everyone. Ticked all the boxes!”
Jess and Becca love working together even though they live on opposite sides of the world.
“There are so many great things about working with someone you know so well and trust implicitly. It’s a huge commitment to start a business with someone, like a marriage, but when you’re sisters you’re already locked in for life anyway.
“I would say that living on opposite sides of the world means we have a lot of space between us, physically but also workwise. We aren’t always on top of each other and we do quite different things within the business so there’s a lot of balance.
“However, the time difference has a big effect on our business as I live in Australia and Jess is in London. There are a lot of hours of work that get done with at least one of us in our pyjamas. It makes switching off mentally quite hard as there’s always stuff going on 24 hours a day.”
Mustard Made’s lockers are created from scratch and the sisters work closely with their manufacturers in China to make sure the products are exactly the way they want it.
“We prefer to do this in person because things happen much faster but this year that hasn’t been possible so there are a lot more samples and it takes a lot more time. There are a lot of factors to consider like packaging, how products fit with our existing range, how will they be shipped, how many fit in a container… but mostly I’d say we are driven but what we want ourselves.
“Colours are either really instinctive and just click or take a lot of work. The most important things is how a new colour will work with the others we already have then getting samples in locker form as they can feel really different on a small swatch compared to a big piece of furniture in your bedroom.”
Becca loves that she gets to create things from nothing. “I learnt from years of running a handmade business that I’m much more driven by bringing ideas and concepts to life rather than actually making things. I really consider myself lucky that I got to create a job that allows me to do this whether it’s new products, branding or writing content for Instagram, it’s all creative and requires me to dream things up and make them real.”
Like many other businesses this year, Covid-19 was not part of Mustard Made’s plan for 2020 and while the year started with the sisters making detailed plans, they were very quickly crossed off or postponed.
“But, the nice part is that it has meant a lot less commitments, more going with the flow and just doing our best. Getting stock has been challenging, we didn’t receive new stock from November till May so now we’re just catching up with demand as best as we can. We both feel extremely grateful to have a business that’s still able to sell, maintain relative normality and pay our bills this year.
“We will soon be launching our new colour (Sage green… shhhh!) as well as a double door wardrobe locker later in the year. I’ve got a baby on the way in October so Mustard will have a new mini member of the team too.”
Fun facts with Becca Stern
Favourite food? Peanut butter
Favourite holiday destination? India. I love it!
Favourite song/band? Regina Spektor if I have to pick one
Favourite book? The Life of Pi, just read it again to my son and it makes me so happy
Favourite drink? Chai tea or when I’m not pregnant Amaretto sours my husband makes me
Favourite movie? Love Rosie always makes me laugh/cry
Favourite TV show? Currently watching This Is Us, also a lot of laughing and crying involved!
Favourite person? My kids
Most embarrassing moment? Sending emails to the wrong person accidently