designer sally pottharst

It is almost impossible to open an interiors magazine and not see a rug from Armadillo&Co featured in a styling shoot, or someone's home. (They have recently launched I Love My Rug - whereby interior designers, architects and stylists can share images of their work with the rugs.) Yet it was only three years ago that the company was launched. But it had two huge advantages on its side. Jodie Fried - who I have interviewed here. And Sally Pottharst. The two met in Adelaide while Jodie was working on her Bholu project. Since then, across continents and countries, they have built up a formidable business that puts equal weight on style and sustainability. Here, Sally shares her story.

Which five words best describe you? Thorough, measured, Virgo, perfectionist, passionate.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I had a gap year where I returned to my school in Zimbabwe and taught art to 13-18 year olds – textile printing was my passion. Due to my imminent immigration to Australia I took a totally different tack and studied finance in Cape Town, South Africa, and became a chartered accountant with KPMG after I arrived here. After starting a family I worked with my husband in the newly established retail side of our floorcoverings business – Terrace Floors & Furnishings. During this time I learnt a lot about the craftsmanship and detail of weaving and making beautiful rugs. It was through my business that I met Jodie Fried and was inspired about making rugs for Bholu, which together we went on to do and created a really beautiful product. Even before we made Bholu rugs, I knew there was a gap in the market for carefully crafted and high quality understated rugs. It was from here that Armadillo&Co was born, and it has been a fantastic ride ever since.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Grab an opportunity when it comes along, and make it happen – no one else will make it happen for you.

What’s your proudest career achievement? The success of Armadillo&Co, and working with a fantastic team to provide such an appreciated product.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Australia.

Who inspires you? My parents.

What are you passionate about? Elegant and simple design and my animals – my two faithful Jack Russels – Bruno and Puppy, my 23 dorper sheep and my four alpacas.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Nelson Mandela – I abhor racism and I can’t think of anyone else who has bridged a racial divide like he did in South Africa.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having very long holidays.

What are you reading? The poisonwood bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which is about a missionary family in the 1960s who move from the US to the Belgian Congo. I am always about three books behind my bookclub’s list and just pick up the ones that have had rave reviews. I was born in Africa, so am enjoying this one!

images courtesy of sally pottharst and armadillo&co