This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Mr. Draper

Shopping

We’re excited today to launch a new partnership with Etsy Australia, which will see us feature a handful of unique Australian Etsy sellers and handmade treasures in the lead up to Christmas.

We’re kicking off today with an introduction to a brilliant new Melbourne-based linen ware business, Mr. Draper, run by multi-talented ex-Air Force employee Alistair Birrell!

22nd October, 2015

Mr. Draper bed linen on display in Alistair’s Fitzroy studio and showroom. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Mr. Draper bed linen, designed and made in Australia. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

The Fitzroy studio and showroom of Mr. Draper. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Alistair Birrell in his Fitzroy studio putting some final touches on his range of Mr. Draper linen and napery. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Studio details. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Mr. Draper linen and napery. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Studio details. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Alistair Birrell isn’t exactly what I imagined. Having stalked his new business, Mr. Draper, on Instagram for a few months now, I must admit, when we finally tracked Alistair down and learnt a little more about his background, his career path did surprise us! It includes running his own fledgling fashion label, working for a big logistics company, and working in the Royal Australian Air Force. I’m pretty sure that’s a first around here…!

Alistair grew up on a small farm just outside of Apollo Bay. He moved Melbourne for University in the early 2000s, and during his studies, started a successful little T-shirt label with a close friend, which operated from 2005 through to about 2009.

After finishing university and wrapping this business up, Alistair was ready for a change. ‘I wanted to see and do something completely different… I guess I was a bit burnt out and searching for inspiration’ he recalls. After working in logistics for a big company for a few years, he ended up joining the Australian Air Force, where he worked for just over four years, travelling all over the place on various assignments.

‘It seems like a really random thing to do but it made sense to me’ Alistair says of this unexpected career move. ‘A complete change or reset is sometimes exactly what you need in order to gain perspective. I’m glad I did it, it’s given me energy in a lot of ways and it taught me a lot about self-discipline, something self-employed folks can never have enough of’.

Alistair left the Air Force last year to start Mr. Draper. After a few years in such a controlled and disciplined environment, he’s relishing the opportunity to be creative again.

Recalling lessons learnt from his first business, Alistair was keen to keep Mr. Draper ultra minimal, with very simple products and processes. He designs all the linen and napery personally, and up until very recently also did all of the manufacturing himself. After sewing several thousand napkins, tea towels and handkerchiefs (!) he finally took the advice of a mentor and sought some help, working with local social enterprise The Social Studio to outsource some of his sewing. ‘They are a very cool operation and fits perfectly with Mr. Draper’s values of being open, transparent and inclusive’ Alistair says. Needless to say, all Mr. Draper products are made in small runs in Melbourne.

As for the product, well… I have to say, it’s seriously beautiful. After experimenting with different textiles including cotton and bamboo, Alistair settled on 100% pure linen imported from the UK for his entire range. We’re particularly impressed with his  exquisite colour palette – the muted soft pink, rich maroon, olive green and spicy tobacco hues are our top picks!

Having only been in business for less than twelve months, Alistair originally launched his shop on Etsy. Just this week, he’s finally followed this up with the launch of his first stand alone website. He has also enjoyed gathering a likeminded following on Instagram over the past 12 months, which he says has been  great tool in getting his product out there. ‘Apart from connecting me with a bunch of people who turned into customers, I’ve also met a lot of really cool makers’ he says. Having recently taken on a large, light-filled studio space in Gertrude st, Fitzroy, it seems Mr. Draper is ready to take off.

Start your creative business on Etsy.com.

Similar Stories

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Shopping

An Eclectic + Colourful Indoor Plant Haven On Victoria’s Coast

Plant nursery Arizona Living in Torquay is filled with locally grown cacti, succulents and indoor plants, alongside vibrant homewares!
Christina Karras

This Week

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Local Icons + TikTok Stars, Ginger And Carman

Get to know the fashionable, dynamic duo, whose fun-filled adventures (and inspiring approach to life) have made them Internet famous!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Boundless Garden Immersed In Native Bushland

A new coastal home on the Mornington Peninsula buried deep within a native grassy woodland, with stunning gardens by Plume Studio.

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!

Sustainable Homes

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Climate

Everything You Need To Know About GreenPower (+ Why You Should Make The Switch)

The easiest way to invest in in Australia's renewable future - and it's simpler (and cheaper) than you think!

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Art

A Look Inside Abbey Rich's Mesmerising New Exhibition

See the Melbourne artist's beautifully bold abstract pieces at MARS Gallery, filled with playful patterns and hidden meanings.
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Shopping

An Eclectic + Colourful Indoor Plant Haven On Victoria’s Coast

Plant nursery Arizona Living in Torquay is filled with locally grown cacti, succulents and indoor plants, alongside vibrant homewares!
Christina Karras

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net