The Tale of Sophie & Van Vine

“Motherhood has taught me that I am enough. I used to worry so much about not being adequate enough for everyone else, but to Van, I’m all he needs. He doesn’t care what I look like, what I wear, how I act, he’s just happy to have me by his side,” says the gorgeous Sophie Vine...

Mother to 17-month-old Van and founder of Vines Of The Wild, an online store which focuses on collaborating with local Australian artists to produce natural products for children. Vine starred on reality TV series The Block with her husband Dale back in 2012 and the couple have recently announced they’re expecting another baby boy in October.

Vine did a degree in graphic design, later deciding to go back to university to become a primary school teacher. She then moved away from teaching and went into visual merchandising. You can tell she’s wildly creative – just look at Van’s divine nursery. Every detail is perfect. You can also tell that Vine is passionate about using sustainable materials and tends to stick to a neutral colour palette.

Launching her business Vines Of The Wild was a long time dream. “With a focus on local designers and handmade items, I reached out to my favourite Australian children’s brands in the hopes of collaborating with them to create exclusive pieces in my aesthetic, but using their expertise. We have so much talent in Australia and I really wanted to utilise the skills of these incredible artisans and create something special and unique. All pieces have a really earthy feel, beautiful neutral tones and a focus on natural material,” she says.

We caught up with the beautiful Melbourne-based mother at her spectacular home (which they’re currently renovating) to find out more about how motherhood has changed her life, how she procrastinates by cleaning and what it was like being on reality TV…

Photography: Nikole Ramsay

I met my husband Dale in 2005. I had just turned 18 and he was 23…

I’m not sure there are any secrets on having a strong marriage. For us, it’s just about loving the other unconditionally, accepting each other for who we are totally and completely. Being ok with the fact that things are not always going to be perfect, but knowing that no matter what, your best friend has got your back.

My first degree (before going back to university to become a primary teacher) was in graphic design and Dale is a landscaper by trade…

We thought we’d be a good team on The Block as we hoped that our different skills would compliment each other and work well in a renovating scenario. We’d never renovated before and never owned our own home before, so we were really going in blind, but we loved the idea of going on the adventure that is The Block so jumped in wholeheartedly and we are so grateful that we did.

There were so many amazing positives that came from being on The Block…

Working on a huge creative project with my husband and building something we were both really proud of together. Also meeting some incredible people that have become very dear friends. Then there was the crazy fun we had doing the most brilliant challenges – I remember we ran around the closed Bourke St Melbourne Myer at midnight grabbing whatever items we wanted to dress their iconic windows, I mean how cool?! The positives definitely outweighed the negatives, but I suppose the hardest part was actually being on television (ha ha). I found it quite confronting. I knew Dale wouldn’t mind (few things bother Dale), but unfortunately women are judged so much more harshly and although I could have been portrayed much worse, it was still difficult to watch.

The most challenging part of motherhood is…

Not being able to control everything and feeling completely out of my depth. It’s completely true when people say that everything will change. It has. Van has completely challenged me in every way possible, but I’m becoming better for it so I’m very grateful to Van for that. I’ve always wanted to become a mother and as difficult as it has sometimes been, Van has made my dreams come true – he’s the sweetest, most adorable thing I’ve ever known.

After The Block, I changed careers from primary school teaching to visual merchandising at the Cotton On Group…

I resigned from that position while on maternity leave to start my own business Vines Of The Wild – a long time dream of mine. Since becoming a mother, I’ve really enjoyed being completely immersed in all things children and baby. I really wanted to contribute to what was being offered for other like-minded mothers who favoured simple, beautifully designed natural pieces for their children’s spaces.

I completely separate work from motherhood…

My Van time is 100% dedicated to him and my business time is the same. Mostly I work nights, which can become exhausting for sure but it’s the balance that works best for me. It also helps to have the very supportive husband that I have – Dale has Van for different days each week and I’m very grateful to have him behind the business with me.

The most challenging part of running your own business is…

Constantly second-guessing myself – I often envy those with business partners that they can bounce ideas off. I have Dale, family (including two very helpful sisters), and lots of great friends but no one has quite as much time and energy invested like I do so it can be quite isolating, empowering at the same time to know you’ve completely built something on your own, but isolating nonetheless.

I’m not sure what makes a ‘great’ photo but I know the kind of photos I like…

Everyday moments captured in different ways, from different angles, in different light. I honestly don’t try to stick to any kind of formula, but for some reason the photos I seem to post the most of are of us outside adventuring, or amongst nature and therefore, they’ve managed to slip into a similar set of colour tones. I just enjoy using Instagram (@sophie_vine, @vinesofthewild) as a modern medium for being creative and sharing a tiny snippet of our family album.

My father is an architect…

I grew up watching him constantly sketch and measure and draw up plans and because of that, I gained a real respect for architecture and appreciating a structure before it’s filled with absolutely anything – its shape, how the light interacts with it, the materials used etc. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest and most exclusive designer pieces and what’s needed to make a home perfect, but with trends coming and going so often, and maybe my priorities are changing as a new parent, I’m much more interested in how a space makes me feel rather than what it’s specifically filled with. I’m very aware of the energy in a room, more than the on trend colour palette. We do our best to fill our home with natural materials like timber, natural fabrics, and lots of living plants – it’s nice being married to a landscaper that has the same appreciation for that feeling of bringing the outside in and keeping things simple. We also do our best to be as sustainable as we can, finding new uses for pieces we may have otherwise thrown out or using recycled materials to finish our never ending renovation ha ha.

With Van’s nursery I did my best to only include natural and often recycled materials…

I wanted to create a space for Van that was really natural, earthy and peaceful. A place to play in, learn in and relax in. I want it to be both a place for his imagination to run wild as well as feel safe and nurtured in. I know his tastes (and mine) will evolve so I’ve kept the big things like the wall colour, the shelves, the cot, the change table etc in all very plain tones to make room for the ninja turtles and lego that will surely find their way into the house in the years to come.

My mother has taught me everything simply by leading by example…

She is absolutely the mother I hope to be and I can only pray that my children love me half as much as I love her. She is incredibly creative, passionate, spiritual, hard-working, nurturing, hilarious and completely selfless when it comes to her children.

My wardrobe essentials are…

Dresses – all year round!

I enjoyed being pregnant...

I had one of those very fortunate non-complicated pregnancies with no sickness, no back or muscle pain and went into labour on my due date. Even the migraines I used to suffer from regularly subsided for the duration of my pregnancy. So because of that, I was really able to focus on what an incredible thing my body was doing and I didn’t resent a second of it, so I’m very grateful of that.

Sophie in a flash:

Coffee or tea: Tea
Typical breakfast: Vegemite on sourdough toast
On your bedside table you’ll find: Books
Exercise of choice: Running
Procrastinate by: Cleaning
Focus by: Writing lists.
Book you’re currently reading: A Company of Swans (favourite book ever, read it once a year)
Heels or flats? Flats
Pram: Quinny
Baby bag: Ruby Loves Sonny
Sunglasses: Ray Ban Aviators.
Tidy or messy: Both
Dream travel destination: NYC
Happiest when: Van and Dale are happy.