Meet the Maker | Archon
Throughout our P+P journey over the past year or so, Jen and I have learnt a lot about developing and operating a small business, with every day bringing new challenges to conquer and exciting opportunities to jump into. In this week’s Meet the Maker blog, Archon hit the nail on the head with some truly honest and very handy advice to any enthusiastic creatives that are looking to kick off their own project, along with letting us in on their very exciting plans for 2017 of course!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be a maker / owner of your creative business. What inspired you to be where you are now?
Archon Designs was created by Catherine Francis and Isabella Sugani. Our business was inspired by our observations of living in urban environments and what we felt was needed to overcome living in such harsh conditions for our Skin, Home and Travel.
How long have you been working in this role and what do you love about it?
We officially launched Archon Designs on the 1st of August 2014, so we have been around for 2.5 years. However it took us at least 18 months of research of development prior to launching.
We love meeting new customers and catching up with our regular customers at the markets. Being close to our customer base means we get real and valuable feedback, which enables us to continuously develop and improve our products. Creating and developing new products is ultimately what we are passionate about and love doing.
Hand & Body Wash - Available online at P+P - Photo provided by Archon Designs
Tell us about your daily routine i.e. where is your business based, do you work within a team or individually, within an office or studio space?
Our original workshop and the birthplace of Archon Designs was in Chippendale in Sydney, however after 12 months we quickly outgrew our space in Chippendale and moved into a larger workshop in Annandale, with storage facilities nearby in Ultimo. We have a team that help us on a daily basis in our workshop, anywhere between 1-4 people are at the workshop busily hand making our products, pick packing online orders and orders for our retail customers, and also preparing stock for our now monthly markets in Sydney and Newcastle. We always start our day with a good cup of coffee and there’s always music or a great documentary/TV series on Netflix that’s playing in the background to get us through the day.
What is the inspiration for your product range and what would be your favourite item in the collection?
Archon Designs is an urban lifestyle brand. We gain inspiration from our urban environment, our past and present lives and what we want our future lives to be, the people we’ve met, the places we’ve visited and the moments that have turned into life experiences and unforgettable memories. This is reflected in the nature and range of our products and the careful selection of the ingredients, essential oils, herbs and extracts we use, the signature scents we've created in our organic skincare products and the selected natural and unique scents in our Home Fragrance collection. We are also mindful of our carbon footprint and in our Travel range, we have handmade hessian bags with no internal lining, making the fabric 100% biodegradable. Our urban designed backpacks are made from recycled plastic bottles, melted down and spun into polyester fibres. We devote all of our time and energy into developing products to improve the urban wellbeing and existence. Isabella’s favourite items in the collection is any of the organic lip balms, as she can’t live without her lip balm! And the Activated Charcoal clay mask. Catherine’s favourite item is the 16L Urban Traveller backpack, which she has customised with funky pins and badges collected from talented designers we have met in our travels.
At P+P we feel very passionate about supporting other local designers and makers in all aspects of their business. What is one piece of advice you would give other creatives when considering their own start up?
Sleep is very important. And when you get the opportunity to sleep in, take it! because there will be times when you don’t get any. You are your best self when you are well rested. Surround yourself with good company and keep grounded with family. Never fear failure, get out there and just do it, and keep trying.
What was the biggest challenge that you came across when starting your creative business and how did you overcome this hurdle?
Bureaucratic red tape. Our biggest frustration was all the paperwork, forms that had to be filled in and filed and processed before we could even sell our first product! It was a very steep learning curve setting up our own company, patenting our brand, registering our company name and setting up our own domain and website. You don’t realise all the steps required and the time and costs involved in setting up a business. We overcame the bureaucratic hurdles by doing what we needed to do, following the correct processes, following up with government agencies and educating ourselves on our new responsibilities as business owners. Our advice would be to not get discourage or overwhelmed, because once you’ve set it up, the hardest part is over. Be persistent and follow up.
There are so many beautiful Australian made products being released at the moment. Are there any particular designers, product collections or bloggers that you love and why?
Hello Miss May – We love May’s colourful creations and her ‘punny’ gift cards. @hellomissmay
KARMME - We love Imby’s bespoke leather clutches, each beautifully handcrafted and the shibori dyeing technique Imby uses to create these unique patterns on her bags. @karmmehq
MIMA Workshop – 3D printing fascinates us and we love the MIMA Workshop’s TABA creation, the Sushi sets and the ice cream table trays! So much fun! @mimaworkshop
Are there any creatives that you would love to collaborate with and why?
We are always collaborating with local designers. Some of our best work has come from these collaborations, such as our Limited Edition Black and White, 50 hours ceramic scented soy wax candles, and soap dish trays, which we collaborated with the amazing ceramic artist Hayden Youlley. We also collaborate with the talented team at Bespoke Letterpress and their luxury accommodation lodging Arafel Park, making custom soaps for their guests. And we collaborate and supply Neil Perry’s fine dining restaurant ‘Eleven Bridge’ (formerly known as Rockpool est. 1989), with our signature ‘Botanical’ Hand Wash, to ensure their dinning guests experience not only the best in culinary delights, but also get to indulge in our Australian Made organic skincare products in the restrooms while dinning.
What exciting things are you working on at the moment and what are your aspirations for 2017?
We are working on expanding our ‘Archon RAW’ range. Currently we have the Archon RAW organic facial lotion and the Archon RAW body balm, and in 2017 we are planning on expanding more new products, aiming to launch in time for the Sydney Finders Keepers Markets in May. We are also working on our Autumn/Winter 2017 limited edition scents for our scented soy wax candle collections. We have so many new and exciting products in the pipeline we want to launch however they are still in the testing phase and probably won’t be finalised until 2018, because we want to get it right for our customers.