What makes a successful business? I'm by no means an expert here, and I'm guessing there are countless answers to this question, but in my mind, probably one of the most vital attributes is originality - standing out from the crowd. Seven Danelions is a great example of two innovative spirits finding a nieche in the market and, armed with a fair amount of creative talent and a willingness to embrace good old fashioned hard work, successfully turning it into a thriving business.
Jenny Coleman and Kelly Edington are the masterminds behind the local bespoke business Seven Dandelions, best known for their gorgeous hand made lamp shapes. You can tell Jenny and Kelly have been friends for a while - they have a natural synergy and, even though their styles differ, their ideals seem to be firmly on the same page. Their shopfront (by appointment) is currently nestled in a little converted garage on Douglas Lane, Sunshine Beach - crammed full of their signature shades, bases and cushions, as well as an array of fabric samples and a retro find or two, this space is a feast for the eyes.
I think of Seven Dandelions as bespoke business not only because they do one of a kind commission work (which they do beautifully - check out the pic of Kelly wrangling that monster below!), but because they strive to produce unique product across their ranges. They source distinctive fabrics that aren’t your run of the mill prints, ranging from classic neutrals to eclectic, industrial designs, and have recently started creating a range of individually handpainted shades.
As well as their gorgeous lamp shades, Jenny and Kelly also have expanding ranges of cushions, lamp bases, and more recently, delicious soy candles - and they have plans down the track to expand into a furniture range and textile design. These ladies are savvy business women but they have a refreshingly realistic approach to their business. When I asked them about any future plans for expansion they both agreed they wanted to keep Seven Dandelions a company of two, simply so they could keep a hands on approach and maintain a balance with their young families and homelife. Perhaps this is what makes Seven Dandelions a success; it’s not just their design styles and obvious business smarts, it’s also their awareness of the important things in life - friendship, family and finding the balance.
Jenny and Kelly, what are your Sunshine Coast stories? What brought you here and how long have you both lived on the coast?
Jenny: Originally I grew up in Canberra, then spent about 10 years in Wollongong. My partner and I moved here about twelve years ago.
Kelly: I’ve been here about eight years now. My husband was a local so I moved here after we were married.
What are your design backgrounds?
Kelly: Well, I have a degree in Health Science and taught English in China! (laughs all round)
Jenny: We’ve never had formal training, we just kind of fell into it. I’ve always been interested in working with interiors… sewing, making jewellery, creating… somehow I ended up making lamp shades!
How would you describes your design styles, and what inspires them?
Jenny: We both have different styles, but these styles seem to overlap. Basically we like things that are a bit different looking, that you won’t see in every second shop. Fabrics you don’t see everywhere...
Kelly: I think just what makes us happy really, what feels right…
Jenny: We do try and keep an eye on trends, and trending colours. Our design styles are in the lampshade and cushion ranges are a mixture really - retro, classic, we try and offer a broad range really to cater to most tastes...
Your business Seven Dandelions which, amongst other things, creates beautiful bespoke lamp shades - how did it come to be?
Jenny: Kelly was looking for a lamp shade and couldn’t find any, so we thought we’d make one ourselves and that’s where it all started.
Kelly: When we went to source the various materials needed, we found alot of the product was only sold in bulk, so we thought, why not make a few extra - if we can’t find what we need maybe other people can’t either!
Where did that fabulous title originate from?
Jenny: We just wrote down a whole list of words and phrases we liked, then had a dinner party and voted on the name! So there’s really no deep and meaningful background...
Can you describe the process that takes you from the initial concept to the finished product?
Jenny: We basically choose the fabrics we like and work out what will work well together. With our lampshades we have set sizes we work with. With the handpainted shades, sometimes I’ll have an idea with colours and do some sketches, but alot of the time is really just getting out the paints and going with the creative flow. Nothing is overly preplanned!
Are there any designers/artisans/crafts people that you’re particularly loving at the moment? Any Blogs that are your particular favorites?
Jenny: I like Sibella Courts style…
What is your social media weapon of choice!?
Jenny: Facebook, Instagram and our Blog are our main focus… On our website too we seem to get alot of referrals from Pinterest. We have Twitter as well, but we don’t really get it! It’s also interesting to see who we are sending out our newsletter to now - people from all over the world are subscribing which is great!
What are the best things about being your own creative bosses?
Jenny: Probably the flexibility, and getting to hang out with my best friend! We both have small children, so the flexibility of being able to work around them is good - having the choice and freedom.
Kelly; We have been lucky really. We started out small and only took on what we could, building the business slowly. We’ve never taken out big business loans, so we don’t have the pressure of financial deadlines and such, which haven given us more freedom.
What are the plans for Seven Dandelion’s future? Are there plans in the pipeline for expansion?
Kelly: We’d like to get a bigger warehouse space...
Jenny: Yes, maybe sharing a bigger warehouse space with other creatives, and having a combined shop front.
Also, we’re planning to expand our range of bases… we’re looking at studying textile design, and adding other designers products to the website. We’re starting to get more commissioned work with Interior Designers, so that’s something we’d like to focus on too.
And finally, where would you like the business to be in a year’s time? Two years?
Jenny: We’d actually like to keep it small - we really have no interest in getting too big and taking on heaps of staff. We’d like to keep it small and personal, hands on!
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s? Lamington
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise? Costa Bean drop.
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine? The beach! At any opportunity we get...
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark? The Noosa National Park.
Fav Sunny Coast hangout? The beach again!
Be stylishly illuminated :)
Check out the Seven Dandelions website for more details. You can also visit them (by appointment) at their Douglas Lane shop front, or at the Young Designer Markets at South Bank in Brisbane, which are held every first Sunday of the month :)