Retailer profile: Ivy Muse

Long-time friends Alana Langan and Jacqui Vidal know more than most about keeping plants indoors. The pair launched their botanical focused design brand, Ivy Muse, in 2014 and their wire plant stands have become a go-to for consumers wanting to add some greenery to their spaces.

Vidal says she thinks the increase in apartment living is the reason indoor plants, and brands like Ivy Muse, have become so popular. “Keeping plants reminds us of nature and when you’re restricted on outside space, the perfect option is to focus on your indoor jungle,” she explains. “Not only that, but we think people are now realising the added benefits of plants—not only do they look good, but they’re actually good for us.”

The first Ivy Muse bricks and mortar store opened in the cool Melbourne suburb of Prahran in 2015 before quickly outgrowing the space. The duo then began looking for a larger location they could turn into a “curated botanical destination”, says Langan, and the result is the Ivy Muse Botanical Emporium, a 65 square metre store with oak flooring and floods of natural light in Armadale.

“We wanted to extend the Ivy Muse experience and connect with our customers more; we couldn’t do that properly in the small space we were in,” says Langan. “We found our customers really appreciated being able to see Ivy Muse products up close and get our help choosing the right pieces (and plants) for their home.”

Designed by Vidal and Langan, the Emporium took about six months to develop and is overflowing with greenery, including a stunning three and a half metre tall Black Bean tree. There are 24 carat gold plated shelves that reach the four metre high ceiling, as well as hand-blown lighting by local glass artist Amanda Dziedzic.

Along with Ivy Muse products, items from brands including Botanica Boutique, Bonnie and Neil, Studio Twocan, Sophie Jane Moran, Karen Walker Jewellery and Miniscapes line the shelves, and the merchandising has been carefully thought out to give customers the best possible experience.

When planning the store layout and the visual merchandising, Langan says the most important thing was to think about how customers would inhabit the store. “Consider the flow of the space [including] where your customers will travel and where they will want to linger,” she says. “Don’t block the flow of movement because it will translate to being an unwelcome and uncomfortable space.”

Outside of Ivy Muse, both Langan and Vidal are involved in creative pursuits—Langan is an interior stylist and owner of online store Hunt & Bow, and Vidal is the founder of art retailer Signed & Numbered—and each brought their experiences with them to their latest venture.

“My background with Signed & Numbered put me in good stead to handle the busy retail side of things, while Alana’s communications and styling skills complement our other needs well,” explains Vidal.

“Being friends for so long, Alana and I knew we could work well together. We both have different strengths that we could play to and we could cover each other’s weaknesses.”

Although this is the pair’s second bricks and mortar store, Langan says they have been surprised at the amount of time they have spent in the new Botanical Emporium. “It’s a bit like a tardis,” she says. “There’s always something to do.”

As two independently successful creatives, it has been vital that they each play to their strengths and agree on decisions in order for Ivy Muse to be successful.

“Coming from different professional backgrounds, Alana and I knew we’d have to play to our individual strengths yet still work well together as a team for the business to succeed,” says Vidal.

“For us, it’s all about keeping the communication lines open and if one of us doesn’t feel right about a decision, then we don’t proceed. We like to keep things simple and really go with our instincts—it has worked well for us so far.”

All images credit Ivy Muse and Annette O’Brien.

By Ruth Cooper