When I first stumbled upon hygge:liv, it was as if the universe had stepped in to tell me something.
I’d been spending far too long pondering how to give my living room a lift (such is the curse of a breastfeeding, couch-bound mother), but this desire to decorate was met with extreme guilt over consumption. I couldn’t help but recognise that my very best keep-cup and canvas bag ways could be undone by a quick fix decor update.
While I’m not suggesting that all soft furnishings are made unsustainably, there’s an unquestionable queasy feeling I receive when perusing the aisles and aisles of cushions at a mass-market store.
So it was rather serendipitous timing when hygge:liv slipped onto my radar. I noticed them first for their unqiue designs and undeniably high quality. But what pushed me over the edge was their refreshing, ground-breaking approach to design and sustainability.
The brainchild of Moggs Creek stylist, Catherine Stocks and Jan Juc creative Erin Hughes, hygge:liv cushions feature the highest quality, unused fabrics that add colour, excitement, warmth and texture to our homes, all while making a positive impact on the environment. Their eclectic and unique collection is designed and developed in a sustainable and socially responsible way, with each cushion made from unused fabric and being handmade in Australia. The result is a range of incredibly special, luxe, one-of-a-kind designs … And a refreshed living room – completely guilt-free.
What inspired the launch of hygge:liv?
We have been friends for over 16 years and have a shared love for design and interiors. We’ve always wanted to create something really special together. We both love living on the coast and the lifestyle that it brings. We are also extremely passionate about the textile waste issue and wanted to develop a brand and product that reduces landfill fill and contributes to changing the world in a positive way.
Can you talk us through the philosophy behind the brand and the collection?
We are so passionate about minimising our carbon footprint and reducing landfill, which is why it’s so important that our processes are as sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly as possible.
hygge:liv cushions are designed to be timeless. Designed so you can add to your collection over time, from one season to another. As opposed to launching new collections based on seasonal trends that come and go, the range has been designed to be fluid and be able to work back together. hygge:liv cushions are something you can treasure and hold onto, providing a sense of comfort, warmth, familiarity and joy. – exactly what “hygge” is all about.
Where do you source your gorgeous fabrics?
We source our gorgeous fabrics from Queen Of Raw and FabScrap in New York. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to get credible unused textiles here in Australia. We do a lot in recycling and reusing clothing, however not saving and giving new life to unused textiles that are sitting in warehouses on in companies inventory. We are working on some exciting projects and collaborations to help education in Australia.
What inspires your selection? Are there particular styles/colours/textures you’re drawn to?
Our hygge:liv collections are inspired by the environment the coast has to offer. From the wide-open beaches and it’s rugged landscape to the inspiration of travel and the culture each place has to offer. Our design process is based on the fabrics we have. We place all our fabrics into complementary colourways and start the design process from there. We then pair them with backs that create a unique and eclectic design.
hygge:liv allows us to indulge in our love of interior design, while also contributing positively to the environment. Why was this so important to you?
We became aware of the global textile waste issues. We really wanted to be part of the education and the change. We wanted to develop luxe, beautiful products that also help with reducing landfill. People have a really incorrect perception that unused or dead stock textiles must be poor quality and are unappealing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It was important for us to create beautiful products and help people understand what we can make out of these incredible textiles.
Can you tell us about some of the other ways you champion sustainability throughout your business?
Yes, we have also included keep cups in our collection to help with reducing the use of take away coffee cups. All of our products come with a high-quality hygge:liv tote bag. This can be used instead of a plastic bag for shopping or generally transposing things. All of our deliveries are sent out in 100% compostable satchels. All of our marketing collateral in on recyclable stock. These are just the starting point we are developing further ways to ensure we are doing everything we can to be sustainable and help with the education. We have some exciting things in the pipeline.
Can you tell us about your relationship with Queen of Raw?
We have built an amazing relationship with Queen of Raw. The work Stephanie and Phil do is incredible and we’ve been so lucky to have aligned with them as we are all working towards the same goal.
We really feel like Queen of Raw gave us the opportunity to live out our dream. It allowed us to create a brand where we were able to purchase beautiful high-end fabrications, save them from landfill to then create our luxe collections.
It also empowered us to think bigger about who we are as a brand and the way we run our operations. It reinforced the idea that using existing fabrics is the only way to create a range of lifestyle products if we want to minimise our impact on the environment. Queen of Raw also highlighted the importance of education and the role we can play on educating Australians on the global waste issues we’re facing.
Many Australians have no idea of the type of waste that goes on throughout the fashion supply chain. It has ignited a fire within us to spread the word and change people’s perceptions. We want to show them they can make a difference, and it starts by being accountable for their actions, being more aware of what they are purchasing and how global supply chains work. Together we can make a huge difference and change the textile industry, and ultimately have a significant impact on the world.
You both launched hygge:liv on the side of what are already quite demanding roles. What prompted you to start the business as a side-hustle?
We both naturally love to be busy and working on exciting projects. This came at a time where we were both ready to start a new and exciting project. We new that the textile waste issue was very real and only getting worse. 2019 was the time to start hygge:liv and embark on a new and fulfilling journey. hygge:liv compliments our lives and the things we are already doing. It made a lot of sense and we haven’t looked back.
What has been the biggest challenge in setting up the business?
Our biggest challenge when setting up the business was learning about textiles, textile construction and sewing. This is something we didn’t have a heap of knowledge on going into hygge:liv. We have learnt so much about textile and sewing. We even did a sewing class, which reiterated to stick to what our strengths are…!
Understanding how fabrics react and what they are suited for has been a huge learning for us. The work that goes into sewing each product is so labour intensive. We are so excited for collection 2 as we know so much more going into the design and production process.
Something many women looking to start a business wonder is how to fund it. How have you approached this?
This can be a challenge. I think in our situation we have really different strengths and skill sets meaning that we can do a lot of the business set up and running ourselves. Obviously you still have to have some dollars to contribute when starting a business. Fortunately as a partnership we’ve been able to both contribute our time and dollars into the business. When starting a business you really need to have a budget and a good plan to ensure you spend your dollars in the right areas. You have to really crawl before you walk when starting. We have also found having a 3 to 5 year plan has helped ensure we are achieving our goals and setting key objectives for our future.
What is your dream for hygge:liv?
Our dream is to educate Australian’s on the major global textile waste issue. We want to help people be aware and make changes.
We want to be a brand people choose to purchase from for our core values and what we represent as well as our luxe and high-quality products.
We want to end up aligning and working closely with a charity that aligns with our values.
We want to expand our product offering. We are starting to work closely with interior designers on custom making products for clients.
We will build on our interior service offering. Our passion is helping people select or design products for their spaces.
How do you manage business and friendship?
Fortunately, we haven’t had any issues in this area. We have a very similar personality, however, we do things in different ways that complement each other and our relationships personally and in business.
Our number one priority will always be our friendship. We love working on hygge:liv together and have a very similar work ethic which has helped when setting up and managing our business. We both have an energy that helps motivate each other and ensures we thrive.
What are some of the most beautiful ways you’ve seen your cushions styled?
Our cushions have been designed to move from space to space, working as a piece of art and bringing life to any space. We love seeing our Euro cushions styled as floor cushions in peoples beautiful living spaces.
We love seeing our cushions styled on daybeds and cosy nooks in houses.
Aside from hygge:liv, what are your favourite stores/sources for shopping for your home?
We love independent boutique Jarvis and Jarvis in Torquay, House of Orange, Ahoy Trader and beautiful stores we find when travelling or on holidays. Purchasing pieces that evoke memories of adventure and happiness we’ve experienced in places we visit.
Erin, you have your full time job, hygge:liv and three children. What’s your secret!?
I’m not going to lie it is chaos and can be a real challenge. I think the key is planning and having a good support network in place. It is really important to our family unit that we are all living out our dreams and truly happy.
I strive to be a really good role model for my kids. I want them to know me as a mother and a successful business person. It is possible to be both, it’s just important to have balance and know when to prioritise family and work life.
My husband is extremely supportive and we share the load when it comes to family life. It’s taken time and a lot of hard work, however, we’ve finally worked out a way that works for us and our situation. The biggest challenge has been not getting wrapped up in what people think you should do or what they think makes you a good mother.
As long as everyone feels loved and happy that is all that matters. I feel so lucky to have the incredible family and be able to live out my dreams and not compromise either. Living in the moment is something that I’m learning to do and a challenge.
How do you make the juggle work in your family?
Having a supportive family. Being extremely well planned it also really important in making the juggle work. My husband and I being a team and sharing the load. Knowing when things are challenging and hard and asking for help. Working really hard when it counts.
What are your top time management tips for busy mothers?
- Having a plan at the beginning of each week
- A great daily to-do list
- Communication with your support network
- Being patient and flexible when things go wrong
What tips do you have for women who might be looking to launch their own business?
Follow your dreams, anything is possible. Don’t give up. Surround yourself with positive can-do people. Set goals for what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or surround yourself with support. Make sure you prioritise what makes you happy and go for it.