“We have never been worriers, but we did spend a lot of energy trying to figure out what direction we were heading in,” says Marnie Goding, co-founder and creative director of Elk Accessories. “Now that we have experience - and a bit of hindsight - we are more open to taking risks and trying new things.” Since launching Elk in 2004 from their Melbourne home town, Marnie and her husband and co-founder Adam Koniaras now employ about 50 people and have recently started to expand into the USA. After a significant growth phase, the business is more stable and the couple are focussed on the next stage for the company. “It’s wasted energy dwelling on small issues,” Marnie says. Although they have managed to find a way to make a difference in a small way. Since 2011 Elk has offered a small donor initiative towards Unicef and since then has raised $130,000. Expanding overseas is the next step with a trade show planned for Shanghai and more moves into the USA, where they already have more than 500 stockists. “The best thing about all of this is the realisation that we have created a brand that is readily accepted world wide,” Marnie says.
The original interview with Marnie Goding was on 7 March 2008.
Why did you start Elk? It was quite an organic process; we started off making hand-sketched and cut silver. When various opportunities presented themselves at right time the Elk label started to evolve. It almost feels like while we are at the steering wheel we have really been pulled along by demand. I also felt that as a consumer, many accessories on the market did not offer what I wanted. Either the design was too over the top or the quality was poor… we remind ourselves of this always when designing.
What’s the driving idea behind the brand? Simplicity and quality. We have a lot of competition but do not worry too much about what everyone else is doing or what the current high street trend is. Our customers have proven to us they are looking for quality, and pieces they can wear comfortably season after season. We never stray from our ethos of strong design, simple styling and quality materials.
Where do you look to for inspiration? I am fortunate to travel quite a bit and find inspiration while away. Melbourne too is a wonderful design hub and there are examples of great design everywhere. I have more fun in small country antique shops and out of the way places than I do in big sparkly branded stores.
What’s a "day in the life" of Marnie Goding? The days are never long enough! We don't start too early as we work late into the evening - I am not a morning person. The day is spent liaising with our manufacturers and clients, planning and designing new collections and working closely with our staff.
What’s involved with producing a range? There is a lot of planning. It starts with a colour palette - this is our most important factor. Then we start sourcing materials. Materials are sourced overseas so this is where our trips are focused on visiting fabric merchants, our factories and suppliers... this part I enjoy the most. From there designs are drawn and sampling starts - this is a fun process as you start to see your ideas take shape. Sampling is often frustrating too as you can go back and forward several times trying to get things perfect. Once production is underway you can relax a little and start small things like designing new tickets and labels.
What style of decorating do you love? I love natural fibres and colours. Whilst I do like modern interiors I feel much more comfortable and have an affinity for simple decoration. Interior designer Christian Liagre's style is my perfect idea of decorating - simple, good quality, practical design - timeless.
What’s your home like? Apart from chaos? It’s great! We have a small weatherboard town house backing onto a leafy park. It’s small but perfect. It is a cosy house with a fireplace which remains almost permanently lit throughout winter.
What’s on your dream shopping list? I have fallen hopelessly in love with a bed from Hub Furniture; it definitely fits into the dream category.
If you had a spare day, what would you do? Coffee, breakfast at The European and the rest of the day at a park with our dog. Simple pleasures.
What's next? Good question! We are getting a lot of enquiries from international retailers so would like to see Elk overseas one day. We are not in a hurry though so it will be a little while yet.
images courtesy of elk accessories