You probably wouldn’t guess it but in Oz 70% of businesses are family-owned.
Most of us find it incredibly challenging to achieve any kind of balance between work and family (or even draw the line when it comes to our time). But this conundrum is only amplified when your life partner also happens to be your business partner!
One couple that appears to have mastered those temperamental scales to find an elusive equilibrium, is Poppy Lane and Scott Gibson.
So, how exactly do the duo behind much-loved lifestyle brand Pop & Scott do it? Today, Poppy Lane lets us in on her approach to mindful mothering, while simultaneously nurturing an evolving business.
Can you tell us a bit about your path to founding Pop & Scott in 2012, after previously training and practicing as a florist? What would you say is your professional vision?
My whole work history prior to starting our business was floristry. I miss it. This year, I plan to do a floral installation for one of our shoots; I need to reconnect to my core.
I’ve always had a love for great spaces, textiles, furniture, and design – crafting environments that feel considered, loved and warm, has been a lifelong passion. Scotty and I started designing and making furniture for ourselves. It was not something we took seriously at the time, yet we’ve now evolved into having a furniture, homewares and lighting brand!
We both can’t believe how much we’ve achieved in seven years with a few kids thrown into the mix. Our vision is to keep our business small and smart. We want our roles to continue in furniture design and to keep working towards a more sustainable and ethical business model.
You and Scott are partners in life and business, and collaboration has been integral to your success. How has your professional relationship evolved alongside the personal? Do you have any advice for other creative couples looking to launch – for working together, but also balancing work with life?
Parenthood has changed the way we work enormously. We don’t have any help from our families, so it’s been a mad juggle for nearly six years. We’ve learned the lesson of letting go, and have hired people for roles we’re no longer able to manage ourselves.
Scotty and I work better when we can both be hands-on; we are not afraid of taking risks and like to just get in there and try things out. Unfortunately, this way of working is not quite possible with kids. We have to rely heavily on our team to keep our vision alive. Things tend to move a lot slower, but we get there in the end.
My advice is to get a life coach, be honest with each other, community, ask for help and take risks. You have to have the guts for small business! It’s scary and hard work, but also exciting and very fulfilling.
Besotted with the Australian bush, you and Scott live with your children Frida, Lou and Veda an hour or so outside of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. Was raising a family away from the city a deliberate decision, and how have you found culture and community down the beach?
Ending up down here was not the plan at all! We’d been renting and could not get a place anywhere in the city or outer suburbs; real estate agents view business owners as a risk. It took us six months of hunting and applying – we looked everywhere from Eltham and Warrandyte, Woodend, the Dandenong Ranges, and Mornington Peninsula, plus the suburbs around our workshop.
We came to look at this house on a winter’s day, the beach was wild with fires burning and kangaroos in the backyard. It was love at first sight! After six months of renting, we bought the house from its owners.
It was a big change for me, it took a while to get into the area. I grew up on the coast of Western Australia, so I felt homesick living here – near the ocean, but not my ocean. There’s an interesting vibe on the Peninsula too, not a strong feeling of culture or community. It also lacks good, honest venues with great food and vibe. We’d previously lived in Eltham, where you could feel the creative history in the homes and gardens – I loved that.
Now we’ve been here for a year, we’re starting to find more likeminded people, and a few really close friends have moved down, which makes it heaps of fun. We have lots of dinner parties, and the house has plenty of room for people to stay. So we create great food and atmosphere with our mates. There are so many beautiful bushwalks, beaches, rock pools, and drives; we meet for mini-adventures every week.
Can you give us a glimpse into how your days start and end at home with Frida, Lou, and Veda? How do you and Scott work to share the load at home?
Our days start with wrangling the kids through showers and getting dressed. Scotty makes the breakfast, coffee, and lunches, while I feed Veda, brush Frida’s hair and make the beds. We drive Frida to school, then drive into our workshop in Northcote – juggling work with Veda and Lou until about 2pm, then leave to collect Frida. On the way home, I do all my emails, social media, and planning.
When we get home, Scotty does homework with Frida and I put Veda down for a nap then cook dinner. We all eat at the table together, which usually ends with Lou leaving the table to play the drums, while the rest of us try to continue through his current mealtime madness!
The kids and I pile into the bath and Scotty cleans up. It’s the best time of day – having a soak while looking out to the bush. I get the kids ready for bed, then Scotty reads a story to Frida and Lou and I’m with Veda.
Scotty and I share the load of parenting, chores, and work. We love doing this together and feel so lucky to have a business that allows us to live like this.
Moving across time, how might you like the girls to remember you to their own families – what do you think your parental legacy will be?
I’d love for them to remember us as a team! That their Mama and Papa were equals, and that their roles in caring for them and the family home were shared.