In a recent issue of Country Style (how great is that mag now!), I came across the shop Roots & Wings in Berry. It's divine, and well worth a weekend drive just to check it out. I think owner Rebecca Riles personifies a shift that's occurring in country towns at the moment. She has cleared away the cobwebs of fusty, country style and given it a new relevance. Kind of like what real living style director Jason Grant did with his "modern country" shoot - see the pics with his Daily Imprint feature. And also like what Shannon Fricke is doing in Byron Bay. It makes me want to put on a pair of gum boots and relocate. Well, almost...
How and why did you start Roots & Wings Design? I wanted to share the products I knew and loved; there are so many opportunities to do new things on the South Coast that haven’t yet been done. So when the original blacksmiths building in Berry became available for the first time in years I knew I had to make the move and quickly. From conception to opening my doors was a little less than two months, I barely had time to think it through but it was a chance to immerse myself in work that I could really get excited about.
What has been a highlight so far? The response to the store has been amazing! Every day someone new walks into the store and expresses how much they enjoy the space, the products and the overall experience. I am privileged with wonderfully supportive customers and many have become good friends.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was working in a shop in Berry. At 16 I was already flat-out merchandising the shop and I loved it. I moved to Sydney to study interior design full time a few years later and worked in retail again to support myself. I was eager to learn every aspect of the business: I was head VM, buyer’s assistant & whatever else I could get into. I became store manager, and came to realise that I would really love a store of my own but thought I was headed in another direction. Life is full of surprises!
What’s your proudest achievement? My BEAUTIFUL store, it’s my dream come true but I’m still working on it constantly. There is SO much more to come, including the launch of our website - www.rootsandwings.com.au, including an online store – shortly! I get calls from all over the country so the online store will help our customers to stay connected to the store when they are unable to come visit us.
What’s been your best decision? To return to the South Coast and open Roots & Wings Design. I’ve made many new friends – of all ages and have a renewed love and enthusiasm for the area… and I’m doing what I love.
Who inspires you? My mother, she never lets anything get her down and takes everything in her stride.
What are you passionate about? My family & friends, first and foremost - they are my world! Secondly, my beautiful shop: I get to surround myself with the things I love and support amazing creative people.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? To do what you love. My parents never pressured me to do anything but encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. I always knew they were happy if I was happy and I’m very lucky to have such supportive parents.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? John Pawson who says, “architecture is like music, the more you reduce the notes, the more perfect the notes must be” and he achieves this in the simplest designs. At the same time they are never cold and are so timeless. I’ve been lucky enough to get to London and New York and see some of his great retail designs. I’ve never been one to get excited by futuristic designs like those of Zaha Hadid but I admit she is amazing.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? There are too many to list, but I’d like to do a lot more travel for one. Also, I think that there is a big gap in terms of authentic Australian homewares. I’m always looking but can’t seem to find exactly what I’m after. I’d love to design my own seasonal product range and have it made in Australia, reflecting our relaxed Australian style. One day!
What are you reading? Trash usually – I love chick lit! I have, however, just read It Can’t Be Forever by Tamara Jermolajew. It’s a biographical and written by a friend’s grandmother. What an amazing woman and story! After living in Australia since the early 50’s, she finally "learnt English" and wrote the book - in her 80s! I found it quite inspirational: throughout everything she endured, she remained a strong and independent woman – and has a great sense of humor.
Images courtesy of Roots & Wings and Country Style