Sarah Russell’s journey in the business of creating and selling began in grade three, when she launched a ‘humming business’ of sculpted paper weights and sold them to her fellow classmates.
Sadly, this thriving venture was cut short when the principal finally decided the amount of cash it was bringing in from students was too much for the school to turn a blind eye to.
Luckily, this experience didn’t dampen Sarah’s business savvy! A few years later, she built another ardent customer base looking to purchase the shoes, bags and accessories she was making after completing a ‘handmade footwear course’ (while also working and designing for Melbourne luxury leather handbag brand, A-Esque).
About 10 years on, the prolific young designer launched and co-founded her third business — women’s wear brand Caves Collect — with her then housemate Johanna Howe.
‘It was during these years that I started creating with fabric as a material,’ explains Sarah. ‘Jo and I would divide up any left-over sampling fabric and production off-cuts for personal projects… I started making textiles that I needed for my home, and fell in love with the process and objects that came out of it.’
This brings us to her most recent business venture; ‘Scotato‘ — a homewares brand, focussing on hand-made, soulful and textured cushions and quilts.
Sarah works out of her Art Deco apartment in Carlton North, which has been her home, with her husband and now two-year-old daughter, for five years. ‘It’s such a beautiful and peaceful space to create,’ she says.
Each of her pieces are meticulously hand-made (and sometimes hand-dyed), with Sarah doing all the designing, cutting, pressing and sewing herself. Once the final work is produced, she then sets out to reproduce the patterns she’s just created. ‘It’s a methodical and meditative process,’ she says.
While Sarah’s cushions can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day to create, a quilt takes at least a week. ‘The more detailed designs feel a lot like putting together a complex puzzle’ she says.
Whilst Scotato is still in its early stages, Sarah is relishing the opportunity to design and make keepsakes for the home. ‘I’m loving the change from clothing, which is more of a product for the individual, to textiles, which can be enjoyed and used by a family, group or whoever visits a space,’ she explains.