What made you decide to move to Australia and subsequently launch TOO Designs?
Due to the unstable political situation and uncertain economical prospects in South Africa, we made the very difficult decision to leave our country of birth to secure a better future for our young daughters. Choosing Australia was a no-brainer; it is a great country and we feel blessed to be able to call it home now.
After nearly two decades of running our multi-award winning architecture practice in Pretoria, we decided it was time to pursue a different career path―we wanted a more balanced lifestyle with more time for our daughters. With a lifelong passion for art and design, the birth of TOO designs was a natural next step. It is a platform for us to explore other sides of our creativity.
Starting a new business in a new industry in a new country was quite daunting. Establishing ourselves and getting our products out there has probably been the biggest challenge. Some of our highlights include winning the Life InStyle New Breed Scholarship and an Australian Good Design Award for our Magnetic Art. We’ve also been finalists in the Idea Awards, VIVID and the Victoria Premier’s Awards.
You had an architecture practice in South Africa and now you launched TOO Designs in Australia, what is it like working together and what is the secret to your success?
We are very fortunate that working together has always been very easy for us and value the fact that it allows us to spend so much time together. We are usually in agreement on design decisions and rarely have opposing views. We both create our own independent artworks as artists, which allow us to express our creativity individually.
We both enjoy designing and creating artworks the most and would probably do it full-time if we could. However, a business doesn’t run itself and most of our time goes into the administrative and production sides of the business.
Tell us more about your products, what inspires you design-wise and how do you decide on colours?
Although we look at new design and colour trends constantly, we usually choose colours that resonate with us. It's probably more of an intuitive than a rational decision.
Our background as architects gives us a somewhat different approach to art and design, resulting in minimalistic and architectural works.
The last 18 months or so have been challenging for many businesses, how has the pandemic affected TOO Designs?
Having all of the major trade shows cancelled for the second year in a row definitely hampered our efforts to get our products in front of a wholesale audience. On the plus side though, the growth of online shopping has probably helped us grow our direct sales more compared to pre-Covid times.
People also seem more inclined to buy local products and support local businesses. That is a positive trend and it would hopefully help a lot of businesses bounce back when things return to normal.
It is important to see the bigger picture. Sometimes things don’t work out, but usually, it opens up the door for even better opportunities.