You never know who you are going to sit next to on a plane. During two years of textile research for the recently launched Hale Mercantile Co, Sharon Patsiotis met a woman who is now her European-based quality controller. This chance encounter is one of several positive turn of events that has the Melbourne-based designer saying HMCo was "meant to be”. 

Which five words best describe you? Excitable, curious, eternally optimistic and annoyingly thorough. Let's leave it at four, anymore and I'll have to add "boring".

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Fate. The inception of HMCo was a little like the chance meeting of my husband (a story for another time). Simply meant to be! My husband and I have been in business together for years. I decided it was time to use my business prowess to do something I could totally immerse myself in that simply didn’t feel like work. I have always been a natural-fibre advocate and a great fan of European craftsmanship. I’m the type of girl who will not shop often, but when I do I'll choose quality over cost and will use my purchase forever or at least until it has holes in it. During two years of research I happened to meet my now European counterpart. From there everything simply fell into place. I already had an inner-city warehouse space, a girlfriend introduced me to Siobhan who has been a part of HMCo since its inception, my manufacturing team have proved amazing, and the caliber of retailers that have given initial support was wonderful. And so the story goes.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learn't along the way? Remain true to your style, and trust your judgement. Don't waiver from the path. I’m lucky though, Siobhan always puts me back on it when I start to stray.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Anyone who has a teenage son knows that they can be your hardest critic. So, having my 14-year-old son tell me he is proud of HMCo and has been showing his friends at school has topped it for me.

What has been your best decision? To always plan ahead. Even if it seems overly optimistic, be ready to move to the next transition phase in an instant.

Who inspires you? My European counterpart Kristine who looks after my business in Europe. She has endured much and yet she is driven, diligent, hard-working, always looks amazing and is simply an incredible human being.

What are you passionate about? I think it is really important that manufacturers come together and start educating people about the ramifications of making non-conscious purchasing decisions. We need to encourage not just design, but also manufacturing all over the world. If we continue to purchase purely for cost and give no thought to origin, then we run the risk of allowing centuries of craftsmanship to die in countries that are renowned for their manufacturing expertise and specialised craft. Ultimately, if we choose not to support specialised trade, what buying choices will the generations to come have?

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There is a myriad of designers and artists I would like to meet. First one that pops into my head is Paul Harnden.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Spending my winters in Europe.

What are you reading? Whilst I enjoy a good novel, I am afraid that reading of such kind is left for lazy holidays. Mostly I read way too many social media comments, a truck load of interiors mags, oodles of blogs and the occasional newspaper.

images courtesy of hale mercantile co

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