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We love a good story, especially when it’s about an interiors store that’s gone from once-off pop up shop to full blown success; Cranmore Home – created by Tracy Lefroy back in 2010 – is one of those.
Starting small, Cranmore Home has evolved into an events planning, interior consulting, retail shop and online business. Needless to say, there’s a lot to learn from this business – and business woman. We were lucky enough to chat to Tracy and get some insight into how she did it! We hope you enjoy (maybe grab a pen before you sit down too!)
1. How did Cranmore Home come about, did you always see yourself starting an interiors and homewares store?
If someone had told me when I was 22, freshly graduated from an honours degree in agricultural science, that I would be running an art, fashion and homewares shop I would have laughed. A LOT! My first career path was firmly as an agriculturalist. I was, and still am, very much an advocate for Australian food and fibre and the manner in which Australian farmers produce this food and fibre.
Thirteen years on, married with three children and now I cannot imagine doing anything but running Cranmore Home. Cranmore Home really came about as a result of my frustration at not being able to source beautiful australian designed goods at a reasonable price point for my own home. My husband and I are lucky enough to live in a beautiful, old stone farmhouse which we both felt deserved beautiful furniture to show her off. Part of the beauty of my farmhouse is that ‘she’ is built from stones collected from our farm. I wanted to echo that lovely local feel with Australian furniture and art. Therein began my process of trying to source artisan pieces that I could actually afford. It got to the point where I had collected such a wonderful collection of ‘makers’ that a friend suggested that I share my contacts by opening up my home as a shop for a weekend. That was four years ago and everything has flowed from there.
2. Your collection is very cohesive (and lovely!), what makes a piece a fit for Cranmore Home?
Thank you! What makes a good fit for Cranmore Home? Firstly, all Cranmore Home products are designed right here in Australia. Any designs that are sent off-shore for production must be made under strict fair trade principles. These first two criteria are not-negotiables for me, and do tend to narrow down my search. In terms of aesthetics, I am looking for products that fit my idea of ‘contemporary Australian’ which to me is fresh design, a colour palette reflective of the Australian lifestyle and a little bit of that indefinable ‘whimsy’. I tend to know fairly quickly if a brand is going to work with Cranmore Home’s aesthetic, something normally just clicks to ‘yes’ in my head. I am also working very closely with a couple of wonderful timber craftspeople, one here in WA and one based in Victoria, co-designed furniture for my interior design clients. This is a new direction for me and I am loving seeing my ideas being translated into beautiful timber pieces. I have just worked with a client on a steam-bent walnut mirror which is just incredible. I just wish the client didn’t live in Queensland so that I could see the piece in the flesh!
3. In terms of PR and marketing, what have you found most successful?
For me, the most successful PR and Marketing has been social media and, without wanting to seem like an advertisement, Press Loft has been incredible in providing exposure for Cranmore Home. Seeing my products in magazine’s editorial space as ‘trending’ has been a massive director of traffic to my site. I definitely find that editorial placement works far better for Cranmore Home than traditional paid advertising in print media.
4. How big a part does social media play in marketing your brand?
Social media is a massively successful platform for promoting Cranmore Home. I have found that, despite being based on a farm in regional WA, I am able to create a little community around my brand. I aspire for people to feel that I am invested in their choices from my shop and really want to add something personal to their online shopping experience.
5. If you could give one piece of PR advice to a small business, what would it be?
Get yourself out there. Brand awareness is just so important for small, independent businesses. I am just so passionate about my small business and I think that all small business owners are (or we wouldn’t be doing it!), convey this passion to your audience, it is your best marketing tool!
6. What’s been one of the most exciting points for Cranmore Home?
Oh gosh! I have just been blown away by how wonderfully Cranmore Home has been received. A couple of highlights for me have been having the opportunity to work with amazing craftspeople in designing furniture from Australian timbers and the second is my first Cranmore Home Winter Workshop which takes place on June 28. I have seven of the ‘makers’ of my brands coming up to my farm in regional WA to host workshops. Guests will create a piece in conjunction with their Artisan Educator, join in a three-course long table lunch with paired wines from Ferngrove and meet with other like-minded creatives. This all happens from my wheatbelt farm, Cranmore Park, and I am so thrilled to be sharing my home with everyone.
7. And, who, or where, do you get your interiors inspiration from?
To begin, my inspiration was my new-to-me but old-to-the world home. I felt that such a beautiful old home deserved gentle respect.
My regional location is of such benefit to me as I am not overly swayed by what other shops are stocking. Whilst I love to keep an eye on new trends, my aesthetic is heavily influenced by artisan craftwork rather than by what is fashionable. That said, I do tend to look to what colours are trending in apparel for ideas of where to take each season’s edit of homewares and art.
From there, I really look to Australian designers and artists for inspiration. I am loving Jane Donaldson’s bold use of colours in her art at the moment and am working toward hosting some of her beautiful works over here in WA in my bricks and mortar shop. Other designers I look to are Maeker Studio and Gratton Design for their beautiful use of timber, Sibella Court for interiors and Loni Parker for emerging designers.