Australian luxury furniture studio Henry & Oliver Co. was founded by Elaine Ellis and her husband Robert in 2015, building a reputation for their locally-made sofas and hardwood furniture.
Growing up in a busy household, Elaine’s parents ran a business in Ireland, igniting her interest in becoming a business owner herself one day. “For anyone who had parents who ran a small business you’d know that from an early age you can’t help but be immersed in the day-to-day operations. I always knew that one day I would run a business and I chose something I’m passionate about.”
With an enthusiasm for renovation and interiors, Elaine said starting a business that combined both elements did not seem a difficult decision. “But leaving a stable well-paid job and jumping into an industry we knew nothing about was terrifying and exciting all at the same time,” she said. Elaine enjoys the connection with people her business venture provides, relishing the feedback and interactions. “You just can’t beat the feeling of designing a product and going from that process to then seeing it in someone’s home. It makes the design process and consultation in-store with customers so rewarding,” she said. Similarly, Elaine loves the opportunity her job provides to turn many houses into wonderful homes. “Whilst we now have lots of choices and the internet provides a great research tool there’s nothing quite like seeing something in person. We have the added benefit of providing styling advice in store or in the home that can help our customers visualise their interiors,” she said.
Though their business is now thriving, Elaine says her and her husband had to overcome some initial hurdles. Alongside the financing difficulties that they had to self-fund their business in the beginning, Elaine said the hardest part was believing in themselves enough to get past the fear of failure. “You really have to back yourself and take risks because if you don’t think you will succeed then nobody else will either!” Elaine believes Henry & Oliver Co.’s key to success is they genuinely trace all the products back to their origins as the right piece of furniture can pull the whole room together. “We spend days, weeks and sometimes months designing and selecting finishes, fabrics and colours to ensure we are creating items that will look beautiful in our customers’ homes.” For the business to grow and be sustainable, Elaine said their focus is always on quality. “We never focus on making our goods cheaper and instead concentrate on making them more unique, better quality and more aspirational.”
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