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

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Shopping

Emma Rolls of Emro Designs has always wanted to build something up from scratch, it just took her a bit of time to really work out what that was.

After working for over a decade in community organisations, Emma took the leap and launched Emro Designs in 2019. The idea started with a collection of rugs featuring work by Aboriginal artists, intended for use in the early education space. But after noticing a lot of parents purchasing her products for their own homes, Emma realised there was a bigger market for her designs!

Now Emro Designs creates rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic blankets, each with their own story to tell.

We chatted to Emma more about how she built her business from the ground up!

11th June, 2021

‘Djurebil’ – Sacred Place’ rug featuring artwork by Bundjalung artist Holly Sanders. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

‘Place of Saltwater’ rug with artwork by Shara Delaney- a descendant of the Ngari Nunagal, Goenbal, Ngugi clan groups of Quandamooka Country. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

Large ‘Dubay Jagun’ Women on Country cushion cover with artwork by Bundjalung artist Holly Sanders. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

A selection of Emro Designs cushions. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

A selection of Emro Designs cushions. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

Wajunbihn Jagun ‘Mother Country’ cushion cover by Bundjalung artist Holly Sanders. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

‘Djurebil’ – Sacred Place’ rug with artwork by Bundjalung artist Holly Sanders. Photo – Anne Carolien Kohler.

Sally Tabart
Friday 11th June 2021

I really want to ensure that they are able to continue sharing their artwork and our culture and pass along those stories to their children also, and really helping our culture live on.’ – Emma Rolls

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls remembers the exact moment she decided to take the leap and start her business, Emro Designs. ‘I knew there was a gap in Early Education with Indigenous resources. I spoke to my sister initially about the idea of having paintings transferred onto rugs, and how amazing it would be as an educational resource in childcare, and also something visually beautiful and appealing’, she reflects.

Back then wasn’t exactly the ideal time to start a business – Emma and her husband Pete had two young kids and were talking about having a third through IVF, and the costs associated with that made it feel a little risky to invest in a new business. ‘But it was something I couldn’t get out of my head, and I knew it was the universe telling me to jump in and give it a go’ Emma recalls. She followed her intuition, and launched Emro Designs in September of 2019.

Emma’s stunning collection of rugs, cushions and picnic blankets feature the works of five Aboriginal artists – Steven Bekue, Zoey Hart, Christine Slabb, Holly Sanders and Shara Delaney, who each receive a percentage of every item sold. Emma is passionate about supporting her artists to continue creating and telling stories, an essential part of keeping culture alive.

Emma is a total legend – and she’s only just getting started!

Hey Emma – we love what you’ve created with Emro Designs! Can you tell us a little about your background, and what brought you to Emro Designs?

When I finished high school, I received a scholarship to do a Diploma of Community Services at TAFE, and had a real passion to do youth work in my Community. After dealing with the loss of my brother when I was 21 I didn’t feel like I was mentally strong enough to work with youth, but was still keen to work in a Community organisation.

I started work at Kalwun, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation on the Gold Coast in 2010, where I started as a Medical Receptionist and worked my way up to an Executive Management position, where I still work part time and have been for over 10 years now.

For years I had really craved to do something for myself and build something from scratch, but it just took a bit of time to really work out what that was. I did know though, I wanted to do something that involved my culture and something more creative.

What has your journey been like starting your own business from scratch?

It’s only been like a year and a half, which isn’t that long but at the same time feels like so long ago, with the amount I’ve learnt and evolved during that time.

To start I did not have a huge amount of money- I had to redraw $7k on our mortgage as trying to get a business loan was such hard work, and there were so many roadblocks. So I started with $7k and tested out a few different suppliers samples. That was a lengthy process, and a lot of back and forth of getting samples and that almost took all of the money I had to start my business. Once I found my supplier I placed a really small order and took some photos in my son’s Childcare Centre and did a brochure up and sent it out to all Childcare Centres on the Gold Coast to get some more interest.

From there, I started getting orders here and there from local Childcare Centres on the Gold Coast. It was in June 2020 when my business started to get more traction, thanks to social media! I didn’t have a website at that time, I was still building it, so I was taking orders over Instagram for the first few weeks.

Launching a new business, being a mother and wife, working part-time and being pregnant was really hard work, and each day looked and does look different depending on what’s going on with life at home and with my family. To be honest it is a constant juggle each day with the kids and fitting in what I need to but I absolutely love it and to be able to do something for myself and have my family part of this journey is so rewarding. For so long I have had a desire to have the flexibility of working for myself, still be a present mum and not miss out on those moments with my children I would if I was working full time elsewhere.

I think I am proof that you do not need a business or University degree to start and run a business- if you have a strong passion, focus, determination and Google (haha) you can do anything you put your mind to!

Who are the artists you are working with, and how did you come to collaborate with them?

We currently have 5 different artists we’re working with. Steven Bekue (Bundjalung and Bidjara), Zoey Hart (Bundjalung), Christine Slabb (Bundjalung), Holly Sanders (Bundjalung) and Shara Delaney (Quandamooka). Steven is my brother-in-law and was the first artist I worked with. Zoey is extended family and I have also known Christine for a while also. I came across Holly and Shara’s pages on Instagram and fell in love with their styles and reached out to them. It’s been amazing making these connections on social media!

 We also have some new artists that we are working with, so I’m really excited to share more with everyone soon!

It’s amazing to hear that a percentage of each item sold goes directly back to the artists – why is this important?

This is such an important part of our business – to give back to the artists. I really want to ensure that they are able to continue sharing their artwork and our culture and pass along those stories to their children also, and really helping our culture live on.

What is your dream for the future of Emro Designs?

I have a big dream of seeing one of our rugs in every classroom and Childcare Centre in Australia! How amazing would that be, I actually get goosebumps thinking about it!

Keep up with Emma and Emro Designs on Instagram and shop the collection here!

This Week

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...
2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!

Homes

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

View Comments

Similar Stories

Creative People

Turn Your Kids' Artwork Into A Treasured Keepsake With Crumb Kids

Local textile designer Bindi Howarth transforms kids artworks into custom made tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers - so C...

Creative People

A Foraging Florist Making The Most Of Everyday Materials

Shahn Stewart is the Yorta Yorta woman behind Alchemy Orange, a new floral studio in Melbourne’s inner north.

Creative People

Collecting Materials And Memories On Minjerribah With Delvene Cockatoo Collins

Quandamooka woman and artist Delvene Cockatoo Collins shares a look into her art practice, and the magical place she calls home.

This Week

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.
2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Homes

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

Similar Stories

Creative People

Turn Your Kids' Artwork Into A Treasured Keepsake With Crumb Kids

Local textile designer Bindi Howarth transforms kids artworks into custom made tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers!

Creative People

A Foraging Florist Making The Most Of Everyday Materials

Shahn Stewart is the Yorta Yorta woman behind Alchemy Orange, a new floral studio in Melbourne’s inner north.

Creative People

Collecting Materials And Memories On Minjerribah With Delvene Cockatoo Collins

Quandamooka woman and artist Delvene Cockatoo Collins shares a look into her art practice, and the magical place she calls home.

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.