I live in a suburb on the north Western outskirts of Melbourne that’s traditionally known to be a bit rough and ready.. we moved here a few years ago not knowing what to expect- and it’s been so quiet and peaceful! I often walk the local creek trail to the shops, with flocks of Native birds around. There’s kangaroos in the meadows which give my kids a thrill. I love how unpretentious it is, and how genuinely friendly the people have been. It’s truly a hidden gem.
I live with my husband, two kids, our Golden puppy, and our “elderly” Goldfish, Goldy.
What does a regular ‘day in the life of Julia’ look like?
Our weekdays feel like they’re based around drop offs and pick ups, with some painting and podcasts on my sunny dining table in between. After school we’ve started taking walks with the puppy, and have scooter rides to the local cupcake shop for milkshakes. Weeks go by in a flash, and weekends tend to be slow and lazy. I paint as much as I can during the day, sometimes too much- often not as much as I’d like.
Your instagram is filled with the most amazing painted pots! What started you on this creative journey?
I always loved painting so much. It had such a pull for me- almost working like meditation at busy times in my life.
In terms of making a business of it .. after my first child I had a lot of trouble getting my mindset to focus back towards my previous role which was quite demanding, so I ended up on an indefinite maternity leave.
Early on, a friend had asked me to paint some Christmas baubles for one of her clients. Personalisation wasn’t really a thing yet, so as fate would have it, I stumbled on an accidental niche that set the wheels in motion for Summer Svenson. The baubles, especially those for new babies, went bonkers at that point in time, and a seasonal business grew from this in 2013.
Pots were an organic addition.. I was already painting them for the house, I started gifting to friends, and slowly got onto selling these year round. I love painting pots as you can never have too many around you! Next I’m keen to get back to canvas.
Any hot tips for those wanting to change careers and head in a more creative direction?
Definitely to Back yourself. If you love what you’re doing, others will too.
I wish I did earlier. I chugged away quietly, and was never much of a self promoter. I needed to build the confidence to step away from a personal account, and to stop relying on Etsy alone to drive my traffic.
There was a day that I made a decision to stop worrying about “what if people don’t like what I’m doing” and “what if it doesn’t work” - and jump right into it. I’ve never looked back.
What do you find the most challenging part about running an etsy store?
There’s a few for me, and they tend to be time related. Staying on top of my inbox, making time to create new things, and being organised with my finances is a biggie!
Having consistent supply of what you need is also a tricky one, as it can dictate what you’re able to sell, and when.
And what are the hidden joys?
I think seeing pots in situ in my customers’ beautiful homes makes my heart sing! I also love being my own boss, and working around what’s going on in my life.
Has your creative side rubbed off on your children? Do they like getting into the paints too?!
My son is obsessed with being a minecraft youtuber (so not really) but my daughter came home from kinder the other day with a picture she drew of a collection of colourful germs. So I think at the very least she has her own distinct artistic vision.
Do you find it difficult to balance mum duties with running your business?
Definitely. Putting my phone/ paintbrush down. Towards the end of last year I started realising how much I said “in a minute”. The kids even started to pre empt my response, which lead to the guilts pretty bad! That was one of my resolutions to change for this year, and I remind myself in the moment “what’s more important”. I think anyone working from home will know this challenge well! Now I have an active puppy too, and that’s added an extra dimension of responsibility to the mix.
Favourite instagram accounts to follow
So many! I’m always drawn to the bright and colourful ..
For art / design I love
Molly the illustrator
Ken Done Gallery
For style / fashion
Variety Hour (obvs)
For beautiful homes and homewares I love
The Colour Tribe
The Flamingo and the fox
Your house was one of our favourites to shoot! Do you have any go-to homeware labels or stores?
Always love firm favourites Kip and Co and Sage and Clare... and anything from Family Love Tree feels light and breezy. I shop the sales so it’s always a mish mash in our home (instead of any sort of carefully considered mix)
A local homewares store, Xander and Grace, sells the hugest, healthiest plants for the pots.
I love Etsy for authentic Moroccan rugs, and Togetherness Design for ceramic wall pieces and cushions.
If I had a wild budget I’d be tiling the walls with Bonnie and Neil wall tiles or covering the floors in their beautiful vinyl rugs!
Daily mantra? My aesthetic mantra has always been “More is more”! My daily life mantra is more like “what’s the worst that can happen?”
Spirit animal? A cat
Podcast? Casefile. It’s so well researched and written.
Book? Anything true crime (I’m an addict)
TV show? Back on Better Call Saul right now
Define your style in three words?
Print on print
If you had to describe Variety Hour to a mate what would you say?
It’s Bold, Artistic and flattering. Think colourful, painterly and awesome.
Thank you so much Julia!