We chatted to Bianca to talk designing plant pots, striking a work/life balance and how she strives to avoid waste with her products…
Hi Bianca, how did you decide to start Capra Designs?
I’ve always been interested in crafts. I used to make some jewellery and even clothes. Capra Designs started five years ago as one of these hobbies: the plant and pots industry wasn’t like it is today, and it was quite tricky to find interesting and colourful planters for my plants. I started creating moulds and mixing pigments in my backyard while Tom helped me make plant stands: Capra Designs was born!
When I got pregnant with my first son, Banjo, I decided to make the most of my maternity leave and try to set up Capra Designs as a business. I have always been looking for the right time to launch my own company, and I needed a good idea and some time to do so. After Banjo was born, it became quickly evident that I needed to lead by example by living my passion, which was creating beautiful objects to bring joy to others.
What had you and Tom both done previously?
I used to work in marketing for one of Melbourne’s major public venues. It was hard work, your typical 9 to 5 work with overtime in the evenings and during weekends. I learnt a lot, but the job wasn’t compatible with family life and it wasn’t offering me the work culture I was looking for. Tom is a carpenter by trade and still works in this industry to build high-end projects, mostly on the Mornington Peninsula, on the coast near Melbourne.
Can you tell us a little about your style?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently. It’s tough to tell what makes your work unique and what defines your brand. I would say that our designs are colourful, intriguing yet simple but most importantly timeless. Since Juliette [Gambert, staff member and architectural graduate who co-designed their Sol collection] joined the business last year, we’ve been working together to design our products which allows Capra Designs to move forward an aesthetic which focuses on sharp and clear lines, rather than Motif.
How do you design your pieces?
It always starts with a few sketches on a notebook. It could be some shape and geometrical researches to begin. For our Sol collection, we compared our respective sketches with Juliette and explained to each other why they were interesting and could be developed as a planter or an object. Then we would agree on several designs to be tested in 3D. Juliette would make 3D drawings of all of them to adjust measurements, check the proportions and have a global vision of the collection. Then we work in collaboration with our manufacturers to receive our first samples and approve, reject, or modify each new product.
Where do you create from? Does your location inspire you?
I create from my home in Flinders, down the coast, on the Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. It is a fantastic location as we are not too far from Melbourne, a vibrant and creative city, but also 5 minutes away from the bush. And the ocean is just down the road too! It makes it easy to connect with inspiring creative businesses like ours while having direct access to nature.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up around 7 am. I’m not an early riser at all, but with two kids, I don’t have the choice anymore! I check my emails in bed to see if something urgent needs to be done: as we have some stockists in the USA, a lot of things can happen overnight. I get up and make breakfast for Banjo and if I have time, I make myself some granola which is my favourite breakfast of all time. I take Banjo to pre-school and get back home with Etta, my newborn little girl. It has been hard to juggle being a business owner and a full-time mum, especially with the lockdown in Australia.
In the afternoon, I would liaise with my manufacturers, clients and retailers in Australia and America. In the late afternoon, I usually catch up with Juliette who has been working remotely from France since May! When the kids are in bed, I try to keep working until quite late. Every day is different, as we are a small team, and we all need to be able to achieve an array of tasks to keep the business running.
Sounds great! You’re passionate about sustainability, why is this so important to you?
We produce new objects every year. It is our responsibility to make sure that these new objects are needed and are good quality so they last for a long time. That’s why our planters and homewares are being manufactured in small batches in the best possible way to avoid useless stock and therefore, waste. We put in place a pre-order system to make sure every new object we create will be used and will find a home rather than staying on a warehouse’s shelf forever. We’re also trying very hard to implement new packaging solutions to reduce our waste.
Which is your most popular product? Why do you think that is?
I think it is the Archie planter. What’s unique about this planter is that the arched water tray is the hero, not the planter itself. The name is cute, and the terrazzo has been, and still is, really popular: perfect combo! The Roma planter from the Sol collection is making promising debuts, too.
Do you have a favourite?
I would say the Banjo pot, named after my son. It’s a really good size and it was the first time I thought about including the water tray to the design of the planter: its seamless tray has now become our signature.
How do you approach PR and marketing?
With my background, it’s inevitable that PR and marketing are part of my everyday work. It took me time and effort to build the audience Capra Designs has today. Instagram is definitely an excellent tool. I’ve been trying to show more behind the scenes and design processes with our followers over the last year so that our customers feel closer to us; as an online brand it’s important to share what we are up to regularly. Working with inspiring photographers and stylists is essential to me as it can also change the way people welcome your products.
What have you been working on recently? Anything you’d like to tell us about?
We’ve been working hard on our new homeware collection over the past few months. We are waiting for our manufacturers to get back to us with some samples! When you see your ideas being brought to life, that’s my favourite moment!
If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?
First of all: do not copy! Create something that is missing from the market, something you haven’t seen before and would like to have for yourself. Then I think great photography and curated content is essential these days. Take care of your brand image, be passionate and don’t overthink too much!
What’s been your highlight so far?
I don’t have a particular moment in mind, but I feel really lucky to have a business that has been growing organically over the years. Our customers and retailers have been really supportive and always welcome new products positively. They provide us with precious feedback which allows us to keep creating objects tailored to our market.
Describe your work in three words:
Challenging, intuitive, varied
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee, just a regular latte, please!
Mountains or Sea?
Night Owl or Early Bird?
I wish someone had told me…
To start my business earlier!