February 10, 2016
DESIGNER + MAKER LAKSMI WILSON
Laksmi Wilson has always focussed on the art of storytelling. For many years, she toiled away writing creative stories. However, it wasn’t until after becoming a mother that she found an altogether different type of story to tell through her homewares business Copper and Cross. Byron Bay-based Laksmi believes that products made by hand are more than an object. They tell a story, and carry a feeling. And creating craft-based wares was satisfying and addictive in a way she hadn’t anticipated either. “When I started down this path I had no idea I could be adept at it or that I was capable of teaching myself to be creative with my hands,” Laksmi says. “I was hooked immediately though - the therapeutic nature and the satisfaction of watching an idea be realised in a tangible way is so addictive.”
Copper and Cross evolved through a process of Laksmi showing her wares to a friend who had business experience, and gaining a lot of advice. “Whenever I feel self-doubt or weighed down by the business side, I go back to the beginning,” she says. “I sit down and weave, and whether it’s the creation or the meditative aspect, I can always access the confidence in the business I need afterwards.”
Even though Copper and Cross has only been up and running for six months, Laksmi says she's ready to take the next step and show her wares to a large audience at the upcoming Life Instyle event.
Register now to attend Life Instyle Sydney which explores Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.
This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW
Which five words best describe you? Analytical, competitive, empathetic, inappropriate, perceptive.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Before starting Copper and Cross my main interest, and torment, was creative writing. It’s all I had ever imagined doing vocationally but strangely, directly alongside my sense of fulfillment and purpose was a wearying feeling of guilt and pressure - the unfinished stories, the juggle between inhabiting the physical world and the intangible/storyteller world, especially as a mother - led me to pursue a more physically creative outlet, which I had no idea I was capable of. I had actually set out to make a plant hanging but on a whim and a whimsy I got out some paddle pop sticks - yes, the prototype! - and made a “God’s Eye”. The cross shape grew around it, as did everything else.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instincts. We can always feel it - the right move, the right person, the right product. I’m still learning it but you have to trust that initial feeling - the more you do, the more you can hone and perfect it. Also just being kind to people. Most of my business moves have come at the hand of the kindness of strangers and friends in giving me advice. I can’t ever see a reason not to be open and transparent to help anyone else along the same path.
What’s your proudest career achievement? There are highlights that have been a success for the business and highlights that have been a success for me personally. Anytime there is any feedback on our products - that’s a highlight. It’s an honour every time somebody chooses our products; to have them beautify their house with it, to make people happy and feel that resonance. To have people love what you love to do is an expanding, humbling experience. It’s a very vulnerable-making venture - putting your passion and labour on display, you really have to get over yourself, but making yourself vulnerable, and I felt this magnified when becoming a mother, is like some kind of gateway to feeling connected to the world. It floods in.
What’s been your best decision? I spoke abstractly before about trusting your instincts but to speak more pointedly about it - one of the best decisions I made was to follow through on my idea of our hand-poured candles in sealed tin cans. I was so excited by the idea when it initially struck but it took a lot of problem-solving to make it work and there were times, and as more time passed, that I doubted the product and had to endeavour to recall my initial excitement and trust in that. The finished product is something I truly love - I never tire of looking at them, and every surface of my house/studio is covered, and I’m so glad I never gave up on the idea.
Who inspires you? The people around me. I am unbelievably lucky to have friendships in this area with roots back to our childhood of women, men, mothers, fathers all invested in similar vocational, creative, entrepreneurial paths. It’s vital for me to get together with these people, who have all grown their own businesses and family and to be able to connect on all levels - the triumphs, the failures, and perhaps most pertinent, juggling a family life! Similarly, Byron Bay itself - I strongly believe that the value of good quality handcrafted products is second to none and this area is rife with artisans who feel the same way.
What are you passionate about? Literature, motherhood, friendship, analysing everything, being truthful, critical thought, words, the pursuit of objectivity, the futile nature of that pursuit, laughing. On an aesthetic level I’m attracted to things that have a story, a point of difference, the things that you see and no matter the price you can’t walk away from it. It’s that resonance, evoking an emotion of familiarity or excitement, whatever it is that says something to you about your story, your world - exterior or interior.
There is something so addictive about the quality and practice of products actualised from human hands. Love. Life essence. Story. Whatever you call that quality that you get from handmade products - that's the emotion that will guide you towards creating a home that makes people feel good, not just look good.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I love running my own business and using my hands, creating things for people’s homes - so I can’t imagine I’d ever want to trade in what I’m doing right now. Also, this is going to sound corny but honestly being a mum is just the greatest, most soul satisfying thing I have done or can imagine doing. It is obvious and it is maybe an easy answer but it’s also true.
What are you reading? A ton of unfinished books - who has time?! The last book I finished and loved was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
images courtesy of copper and cross