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The Melbourne Designer Who Found His Niche Making Sculptural + Sustainable Plant Stakes!

Studio Visit

Fun, sculptural and colourful aren’t exactly the words that jump to mind when you think of plant stakes. And yet, it’s the perfect way to describe Secateur Me Baby’s wavy, creative products designed to support plant growth!

Melbourne-based Mike Sullivan started making his own colourful stakes after his love for houseplants turned into a bit of an obsession during one of 2020’s many lockdowns.

Now the self-taught product designer has turned the traditionally boring plant stake into something that’s equal parts practical and playful, using recycled plastics and all sustainable materials!

22nd August, 2022

Meet the brand making wavy plant stakes you’ll actually want to use – Secateur Me Baby! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Mike Sullivan is the coffee buyer turned product designer behind the clever venture. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘The curves visually grab the eye; however allow for plants to rest, nestle, cling, weave, and wrap around the structures,’ Mike says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

His range has expanded to include different stake shapes, including the FLO and AURA stakes! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘I usually sketch freehand or digitally to get a shape and extrude it into 3D to get a feel for the look. Usually a rapid prototype is made on the tools or outsourced to a service provider so I can get a tangible feel,’ Mike explains of his process. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Currently wood, recycled plastic, recycled-recycled plastic, & steel are the major mediums. It’s great to see you can turn products into something that is equally beautiful and practical, with structural integrity in a closed loop system.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Secateur Me Baby originally spawned from a loose conversation with some friends over lunch, and a fresh pair of secateurs I had recently purchased. It originally started as a page for me to express my love for houseplants, sustainable practices, and composting.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The Secateur Me Baby Instagram account quickly grew into his full-time business, but Mike kept its tongue in cheek name as it ‘brings a smile to most peoples faces’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Christina Karras
Monday 22nd August 2022

Secateur Me Baby was one of the many clever, creative businesses born out of Melbourne’s long string of lockdowns. While some of us made banana bread and worked on puzzles, Mike Sullivan invested in growing his houseplant collection.

Mike had already started an Instagram page to dedicated to indoor plants and composting, when he had the light-bulb moment that turned his hobby for horticulture into a full-time business.

‘I was looking at my Monstera when it hit [me] like a lightning bolt – a sculptural plant stake to complement a lovely plant,’ Mike explains.

His innovative stakes feature visually intriguing curves, designed to interact and intertwine with the plant, while supporting their growth in the wavy structures. Unlike the average plant stake, they’re also colourful and unexpectedly sculptural. In bright hues of orange, blue and purple, these vibrant objects help enhance the lush greenery of a leafy houseplant, rather than fade into its foliage!

‘I wanted to emphasise a style of playfulness with practicality,’ Mike adds. ‘The design is a slight ode to nostalgia, something familiar, a beam of happiness. I take inspiration from whatever is around me, nature, film, music, even food.’

Despite having studied business at university and working as a coffee buyer at the time, Mike had always been creative. ‘I always loved tinkering with wood as a medium and getting my hands on any tools within reach,’ he says. Using a ‘very old jigsaw and drill’, he created the very first WAVE I plant stake from his garage!

But his business has come a long way since. Secateur Me Baby has graduated to a professional studio in Kensington, with a full line of stakes made from wood, recycled plastic, and steel, in addition to some new homewares. This year, Mike also ‘unlocked the challenge’ of re-recycling his plastic off-cuts to create a closed-loop system – giving these scraps a second life as the brand’s HEAT stake.

‘There is a lot of plastic on this planet, so by using it in formats like our plant stakes promotes a message for using sustainable materials whilst keeping plastic out of landfill,’ he explains.

Impressively, Mike’s still ‘rocking it solo’ across his venture so far, learning the ins and outs of product design as he goes along. But it’s his positive ‘I’ll give it a go’ attitude and passion that’s helped make Secateur Me Baby so unique, transforming the humble plant stake into something worth smiling about.

Shop Secateur Me Baby online here. 

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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