In creating "A Box Of", not only do I want it to be the "go-to" place for beautiful, unique & thoughtful gifts of kindness but also a place that supports & promotes women who are making their dreams their reality.
Tina Clark is such a women & rather than give anything away too soon I'm handing over to her (she's amazingly inspiring) & her luxury wardrobe solutions divine ...
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up on a sheep farm in Yass (rural NSW) and was lucky enough to go to high school in Sydney! Since then I’ve travelled the world with my job as an Equity Trader, with many years in NYC & Hong Kong.
What made you decide to get into banking? What made you decide to leave it?
To be honest, I didn’t really plan it. I got a job as a 19 year old at AMP as a dealer’s assistant on the Equities Trading Desk. I loved the fun of it but it really wasn’t a career aspiration to be a trader. Following two years there I left and went to Sydney Uni to do an Arts Degree in French and Political Science. Somehow after that I ended up in NYC working as a Sales Trader!!!! An Aussie friend from my AMP days got me the job and I didn’t look back. It was a massive learning curve and I went from there back to Sydney and then a long stint in Hong Kong. I possibly would still be doing it but I found out I had breast cancer in 2007 and a break made me reconsider. I did take one more job back in HK for a short time but quickly realised my time in finance had come to an end.
How has fighting breast cancer changed you?
It's a funny thing - I used to thing it didn't change me too much. As time passes I realise it has made me even more resilient (if that's possible) but also way less tolerant of people that aren't kind or thoughtful. I have an acute sense of life being very short and "just do it" My daughters and my partner bring me more happiness than I ever dreamt of and I feel extraordinarily fortunate to even be here and have such love.
What set you in the direction of storage and specifically for fashion?
The idea came to me in Hong Kong during my second stint there. I had loads of gorgeous clothes and really nowhere to keep them safely. Hong Kong is notoriously humid and I really didn’t want to store good quality silks etc in plastic. This sparked a two year search for elegant storage options and I didn’t find any!
How did you come up with the design concept?
I worked with a lovely industrial designer in HK for a short time - I knew I wanted curves and leather handles and after a wander around Lane Crawford Homewares for some inspiration, we eventually arrived on the design for what is our medium size storage box “The Miami”. We had a prototype made, by which time I had moved back to Sydney.
In establishing Sagitine what were some of the initial challenges you faced?
They are so numerous it hard to be concise! For an equities trader to move into manufacturing, importing, wholesaling and an online store might have been somewhat ambitious!!! However, I would say cost control would have been the biggest issue. I had some savings and really didn’t anticipate how hard everything would be or how long it would take to make some money. My biggest tip for any startup would be to read some of those “Lean startup” books and really take note! I wish I had done so!!!
At what stage did it become a viable business for you?
It’s still a month to month venture with revenues swinging widely. I have become much wiser to costs and have shaved them down massively.
What advice would you give someone starting out in their own business?
Research the market extensively, start with a very low minimum quantity (for products) and repeat non stop “lean startup, lean startup"
How did you come up with the name Sagitine?
My older daughter has the most divine paternal grandmother in Paris. She is honestly the most fascinating woman in the world. I am lucky enough to have known her since I was 10. I think she speaks 7 or 8 languages and when I was thinking of a name for the business I kept sending names to her. She would respond with things like "it's good in most languages but terrible in Portuguese". Or "it's great in Arabic but shocking in Spanish". One day my divine girlfriend Siobhan in London sent me a message saying she had come up with a name Sagitine - a derivative of mine and the girls names (Sabine, Gisele and Tina). I sent it off to Marie-Helene immediately and she responded that it was perfect! The rest as they say is history!
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
I’ve always been a big fan of art deco architecture and Louis Vuitton luggage trunks and I think that’s where the curves and the leather came from.
You also have some accessories to go with your beautiful boxes that you have chosen from an ethical standpoint why is that important to you?
Our lavender bags (cloves, rosemary, lavender & lemon peel) are made using organic herbs and I feel strongly about maintaining the quality there, despite the cost. My other two favourite accessories are the clothes brush which is made by hand in a small studio in the English countryside and our acid free tissue. The tissue took a long time to source in such small quantities and I realised after quite a bit of research that most isn’t really “acid free”. Luckily my friends at Preservation Australia educated me and keep us in stock with museum quality tissue. http://www.preservationaustralia.com.au/
What's next for Sagitine?
We are about to take delivery of the Luxe Collection order which is very exciting! Next year we are making the leap to exhibit in Milan at Salone which is honestly a dream come true. More to come on that!
How do you juggle work and family? Any tips?
It’s a tricky one! I put the kids first as I really want to spend as much time with them as I can. Probably means things move a bit slower with Sagitine than I’d like but they will be in University before I know it and I don’t want to miss a thing.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just started “Truly Madly Guilty’ by Liane Moriarty. As a girl that used to read a book a week pre kids, I’m loving getting back into reading finally.
What's your favourite meal?
I’m such a foodie, it’s hard to nominate one. Perhaps a good burrata, tomato & basil salad with really good quality oil & balsamic.
As a Sydney local, where is your favourite place?
We live across the road from The Coogee Pavilion which is pretty amazing. My fave new restaurant is Saint Peters in Paddington, the most incredible place.