An interview with Becca Stern - Mustard
I LOVE LOCKERS. I'm not afraid to shout it from the rooftops, and more importantly I love Mustard lockers. I had the pleasure of meeting one half of the sister-duo behind Mustard, Jess, last year at a sample sale where I picked up a mustard shorty for Jaspers bedside table.
I was so impressed, jealous and in love with Jaspers locker that I got one for the shop too! To be honest, it was the first thing I bought!
Here we sit down with the lovely Becca, all the way from Australia to chat all things Mustard!
Tell us how and when Mustard Made started? Any serendipitous happenstances? Or had it been a long running dream of yours?
I’d just had my second son Ellis in 2018 and while Jess was over here in Australia to meet Ellis we dreamed up the idea of a locker brand while walking along the beach because I loved vintage metal furniture and had a bunch of old, rusty lockers in my home and studio that I adored but weren’t very practical. Jess wasn’t convinced at first but soon came round! 6 months later we were in China with Ellis and 6 months after that we launched our products at a trade show in Sydney.
Has your vision for the brand changed over time?
Not really, we had a clear vision of what we wanted Mustard to look and feel like. What has changed is the scale. We thought it would take a lot longer to gather momentum and grow a receptive audience. It was quite a big surprise to us that we were able to move so fast from so early on.
How many people work with you?
Our core team is currently 7 of us but will be growing soon. We consider our factory, warehouses, freight forwarder and our stockists as part of our wider team too so quite a lot of people we work alongside day to day! People really are what make a business and we feel so lucky to have found really good ones!
What has been your favourite part of owning your own business?
The time I’ve got to spend with Jess and our family that wouldn’t have happened without this business. We always joke it was all just an elaborate plan to hang out more! Being able to set our own schedules, work when we want (a lot!) and make decisions about our business brings me a lot of joy. Also, showing my kids what a mummy can do gives me a big old sense of achievement!
And on the flipside, what has been the most challenging part?
Logistics stuff. All the uncool parts of running a business that sells big, heavy products like dealing with couriers, freight and shipping systems on our website. I secretly kinda love this stuff but it definitely falls in the challenging category! There’s a lot of problem solving and research that goes into having systems and processes that work and it’s a very ongoing thing as change is inevitable.
If you could go back to the ideation days of Mustard Made, before everything got underway, what advice would you give yourself?
Don't be afraid to dream big!
What do you hope is different about your brand, than others in the same space?
We try to keep things real, we share what it’s like as women running a business on opposite sides of the world. We are a small business, we’re honest, we take good care of our customers and have great colours!! ;)
How do you market your products most effectively?
We try to come at marketing from different angles, whether that’s social media, paid ads, print media, alignment with influencers or through our stockists. I think it’s good to have a broad strategy but instagram is definitely where we have most fun and connect with our customers the most.
Where do you hope you and Mustard Made will be in 5 year’s time (other than with more babies!)?
Hehe! Honestly, I find this the hardest question to answer. I didn’t really picture being where I am right now so I find it hard to envision what comes next! What matters to me most is that we feel like we have stability in our business and adventure in our lives. If we can get through 2020, we can get through anything right?!
How has COVID19 affected your business?
For us it’s put everything into slow motion. Things just take longer to get done like getting new product samples. We were meant to be in China in March together but had to cancel that so sampling has been a slow process or sending things back and forth. Couriers are slower, freight is slower and all our big plans for the year have taken longer than we imagined. But, and it’s a big BUT! We are so thankful that our business is getting through it and the demand for our lockers is higher than ever. Looking after our team has been very important to us and we are grateful they’ve been brilliant at adapting and supporting us too.
What did you do before Mustard?
I had a jewellery business and ran a monthly market night. I love both of them but got to the point where I wanted to do something different and realised that making things myself wasn’t where my passion really was. Jess was a fashion buyer for some big brands so between us we have worked in the smallest business (just me!) to big corporations (Primark!)
We love love love your storage designs. What is the most inventive way you have seen someone use one of your items?
Ooooh, we had someone use a Skinny as a wardrobe for their dog! That made me smile!
Your colours are BOLD, and we love it! What made you move away from the seemingly never-ending trend of Greige (grey and beige!)?
Colour has been such a big part of our brand so I’m glad you love the colours! One of the big considerations is selecting colours that are kid AND adult friendly and appeal to different interior styles. We love seeing how people make them work in the real world and we had a vision of colourful lockers in homes from the beginning that we kept at the core.
If you've fallen in love with these lockers, check Mustard out on instagram and shop the range here.