Collaborating for an exhibition in October 2014 led fashion designer Carlie Ballard and jewellery designer Linda Tahija to start a Sydney-based homewares label, When East Met West. It combines their mutual interest in design and sourcing sustainable products. The homewares label aims to fuse traditional techniques - such as block printing in Rajasthan, India, with modern graphic design motifs. “A defining part of the brand is knowing the supply chain and the ethics of its manufacture,” Carlie says. “They really are artworks - the hand work that goes into them is amazing.” The duo also are partners in the Darley Store in Manly, a collaboration with Holly Boevang of SoFo. Also, Carlie is the co-founder and director of Clean Cut Fashion, an Australian industry body for ethical and sustainable fashion. Carlie studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle while Linda was a graduate of COFA. They are both based in Manly, NSW.
Which five words best describe you?
Carlie: Passionate, expressive, daydreamer, loyal, weird.
Linda: Perfectionist, messy, relaxed, creative, determined.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Carlie: It’s been a bit of a maze, but a combination of a degree in Fine Art and working in adventure travel gave me the insight into the two worlds I love most: culture and design. This led to the inception of a career in sustainable fashion and a chance meeting with business partner for When East Met West Linda Tahija.
Linda: I graduated with a Bachelor of Design from COFA in 2003, which lead me to work for an Australian jewellery company. This job took me to Thailand for four years with my husband. I was surrounded by people who were amazing at their craft, and it really inspired me to start my own business. I started my jewellery label, Linda Tahija upon my return to Australia. Since then I have opened a retail space in Manly called the Darley Store - with Carlie and another friend Holly Boevang, and more recently created When East Met West. It’s a bit of a juggle, but it works.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way?
Carlie: Don’t take it personally.
Linda: Keep trying, keep working. Believe in yourself.
What's your proudest career achievement?
Carlie: I have two. Finding incredible and supportive people to work with on my business journey and being a co-founder of Clean Cut.
Linda: I’m extremely proud of keeping my business going with growth whilst having a baby. Also, it was extremely gratifying when we launched When East Met West – the collection had such a positive response and was really well received. It is exciting to think about what lies ahead.
What’s been your best decision?
Carlie: To leave the comfort yet restrictions of 9-5.
Linda: Quitting my previous job to start my own business.
Who inspires you?
Carlie: My incredible mum - she inspires me. And the people I work with in my business, they know me inside out. It’s scary.
Linda: My family – I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by an amazing family – my husband and daughter, plus also my sister and brother who are both brilliant creatives.
What are you passionate about?
Carlie: Conscious consumerism and sustainable design. I don’t believe there is room for unethical or unsustainable design now and in the future. I’m passionate about adventures to places that take me by surprise: the culture, fabrics, food and unknown nooks and crannies.
Linda: I am passionate about creating things that last. Pieces that you can connect with and keep forever.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Carlie: It would have to be my great grandparents. I absolutely adore listening to stories from past eras. I’m so nostalgic.
Linda: Anthony Bourdain – preferably in a bar in Bangkok. I’d take him to all of the hidden and unassuming food vendors.
What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Carlie: Personally, I would love to settle outside of the city and conquer that work-life balance, with a vegie patch I had time to tend to. Professionally, I would love to see When East Met West and my label be stocked in boutiques globally.
Linda: Creating a work-life balance that allows my family and I to spend time overseas, immersing ourselves in different cultures whilst working on When East Met West and my jewellery label. That would be my ideal life.
What are you reading?
Linda: Oh, the places you’ll go! By Dr Seuss – I don’t have much time for reading myself, though I read this book to my two-year-old before bed - it’s a current favourite.
images courtesy of when east met west