#INSIDESCOOP: NICOLE VATSELIAS OF LUMU INTERIORS
What is your creative background?
I have a background / training in Interior Decoration and Styling, Garden and Floral Design. I previously had a business in floral design for weddings and events but my passion has always been in styling and interiors.
What made you decide to open your own homewares store?
I began sourcing objects and styling homes prior for friends and colleagues. After a change in career and a divorce I decided to open a homewares and furniture store as a platform for my interior styling services. It was a natural progression and I opened my first retail store in Balmain Sydney. LuMu has become a go-to sourcing destination for designers and stylists both nationally and internationally.
What is your absolute must have piece for any stylish home?
I love a white sofa. It really doesn’t matter what style of interior you prefer, a white sofa pretty much fits into any scheme. If possible, chose a slipcovered one to make cleaning easy.
Which designers, artists or creatives are your favourite at the moment?
Interiors and architecture it’s Miami’s Briggs Edward Solomon, French duo Gilles and Boissier, Iain Halliday of BKH, and Redgen Mathieson and Pierre Jeanneret. I love Dina Broadhurst’s fabulous photography, Jacqui Fink from Little Dandelion for her extreme knitting creations. Fashion-wise I always admire blogger Maja Wyh, Emmanuelle Alt and Barbara Martello.
How would you define “LuMu” style?
The LuMu style is an eclectic mix of authentic, contemporary, ethnic and traditional elements. It’s not trend driven but we love to incorporate unexpected combinations like French with Indian or fashion elements with tribal. We love black and white. The LuMu look will stand the test of time and allow you to build on your interior over the years.
Which homewares blogs do you read religiously?
www.lumuinteriorsblog.com, vogesparis and I enjoy Oracle Fox’s interiors
What does a typical work day involve for you?
Get up about 6am and tend to the kids, dogs, cats and fish. Attempt to get some exercise in at least 4 times a week. Check emails social media. Get the kids off to school. Get into work at our Double Bay store anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30am. A typical day could mean spending part of the day in store doing some elements of retail, visual merchandising visiting clients and working through schemes and presentation boards, visiting suppliers, writing articles for various media outlets, updating the website, blog and our social media platforms which have become a massive part of our business. We photograph everything ourselves and our website, Instagram and blog are an incredibly important visual tool for our clients. We update and post daily. Obviously I catch up with other staff members during the day. We go through new, in-house designs for LuMu products and ideas. There’s also the financial and business side of things to maintain daily like collecting money and budgeting to attend to. We IG post at the end of most days around 5-6pm a I try and finish work between 5:30and 6:00pm to cook dinner for the family and spend time with my kids, partner and animals. I also like a potter in the garden and a good glass of wine (sometimes at the the same time). Thankfully with such a busy life, my job allows me flexibility to change my schedule as needed.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
(Almost) balancing work and family life. Making a living from something I love doing. Having my home featured in Belle Magazine and Sunday Life Magazine and creating a ‘look’ that is being embraced by my clients.
Have you faced any major roadblocks when it comes to running your business?
I’ve been very lucky to have a fantastic team behind me at LuMu and a supportive family. That has made tough times bearable. Finding the right location in the Eastern Suburbs took some time but we finally found our little plot in Double Bay. It was the best move we ever made. In saying that, we have to hold a certain amount of stock at all times which means warehousing location and costs can become an issue. Additionally, at some point you need to make the decision to import yourself to reduce your costs. That means more money upfront. Staffing costs are also huge for a small business like ours. As a small business grows, cash flow is always an issue and you need to always have a reserve on hand just in case for issues just like these.
Do you have any tips for new homeowners looking to furnish their pads?
Get a good stylist that you trust and let them do their job. Invest in quality key and hero pieces that stand the test of time. If you can’t afford everything at once, do the project in stages – perhaps room by room. A good interior stylist will save you money in the long run by getting it all right. Don’t be afraid to mix ethnicities in your interior and always go for authentic collectibles and beautiful one off pieces where you can. You can never have too many mirrors or white everything! Don’t forget the garden and your entertaining areas!