A gorgeous business today Koh Living which started a few years ago at the markets, just for fun really. The business owners (Nyree and Tui) are best friends so just loved hanging out together! “We pretty much partied the first years’ worth of profits away. That was 10 years ago! We have come a long way since then. We started wholesale 4-5 years ago and we have grown an average of 40% each year.”
Your aim is to become Australia’ s #1 supplier of choice for products that inspire people to give- what inspires you to this goal?
Tui is a big fan of birthdays and Christmas. When the celebration time comes, she spends many hours and goes through much frustration and stress trying to find the “perfect” gift for each person. To her it is all about finding out what the person will love, not what she personally likes – “thinking of oneself first is human nature”. What Tui likes most when giving a gift is seeing the person’s reaction and hopefully their face light up in smiles; “having a WOW reaction is just incredibly fulfilling feeling” she says.
The goal of Koh Living is to supply products that have that “WOW” factor.
Do you see people demanding this in interiors more and more, the non mainstream, the handmade and the unique? And why do you think?
Absolutely, but there is still a large portion of people who are after the mainstream-type products. I think those that seek out non-mainstream are thinking along the same lines as us- they “want that WOW factor”, they want something special that is not seen in every shop or at least not in the main “mainstream” stores. Consumers are more and more looking for meaning or a story. We are a much richer society these days, so with more disposable income, we can buy what we want and this makes it harder to buy gifts for people who “have everything”. This is why our products are so popular. They generally have a story (meaning), they have a WOW factor, and they are the perfect gift for someone that has “everything”. Our staff will not get products if we don’t say “WOW” once we receive our first samples.
Can you give us some insight into the three ranges we are featuring?
OOhh Danish designed recycled pot and vases – Clean, fresh and minimalist
The Danish designed OOhh indoor pots are hand-made from recycled materials, are 100% waterproof and surprisingly lightweight. The recycled materials are combined with the natural latex from rubber trees creating a product that is waterproof. It does not use any aggressive chemicals or varnishes.
The collection consists of several exciting styles: paper bisque, black rubber handles & totes, white wooden handle tote & tray, soft pots, corrugated paper pots and the new creased pots/vases.
- Paper bisque – Paper bisque uses perforated recycled paper to create beautiful patterns on the pots and vases.
- Soft Pots – The soft pots have a core that is made from recycled paper which is then covered with layers of natural rubber, the simplicity of this collection make it a design classic.
- Rubber handles – Rubber handle/Totes have handles that are made from recycled bike tyres with a core that is made from recycled paper. The rubber range is known for its curved edges and rubber handles.
- Corrugated paper – Corrugated indoor pots are hand-made from corrugated recycled paper, layered on the inside of these circular rings is natural latex.
- Wooden Handle tote & tray – These are made purely from sand, paper and natural rubber. Even the wooden handles are recycled off-cuts from a furniture manufacturer.
On top of the gorgeous Danish design, OOhh have a beautiful story attached to them. They are made by less privileged women of Sri Lanka, providing them with the means to earn an income while staying at home and looking after their families. The naturalness of the OOhh collection makes them a remarkable design and a beautiful addition to your home while allowing you to support a worthy cause.
Vance Kitira Story – Nature’s beauty and simplistic candle range
Vance himself is a true lover of nature and got the idea of the timber range by filling a hollow stem with some riverbed clay and letting it dry overnight as an experiment. The result was a sculpture which had traces of the texture of the stem, thus inspiring him to make the Timber® Candle range with the same texture.
VK products will always be nature-inspired, with attention to detail and use of ecofriendly practices. He himself holds an appreciation (of the beauty) of nature and its simplicity, passion for wood and aim to create a sustainable future which is reflected in this range.
The candles hold an advantage because they are so unique and in general differentiate themselves from everything else one might expect in the marketplace.
European Collection – one of the most popular ranges.
These gorgeous candle holders are hand-made from glass and a layer of clay. The baked on clay allows the light from the flame to project through and radiate all the magnificent colours.
People who have enjoyed the cultural beauty of Europe and neighboring countries choose these tea-light holders for the nostalgic memories of travels around the world and aesthetic enjoyment.
When you place a candle inside a Koh European candle holder it lights up the gorgeous designs and creates an amazing ambience for any occasion. They come in three sizes: small (4.5cm), medium (11cm), large (15cm). The electric lamps come in small (15cm) and large (30cm) size.
Koh Metálico teardrops – best new product addition for 2013.
Our number one selling nickel teardrop is available in nickel and gold and white and silver. Since February the Koh Metálico Teardrops have been running out the door and therefore we keep extending the range to include new colours to follow the current trends!
The design is hand-hammered into a teardrop shape to feature the lustrous reproduction of gold or silver leaf. The leaf, which is layered on the inside of the teardrops, is of the highest quality and allows the inside to illuminate with or without candles. It will capture the attention of any onlooker through its intriguing bold statement.
The Koh teardrops are a perfect choice if you wish to create a lasting impression. They come in three sizes; small 16cm H, medium 21cm height and large 29cm height.
How does sustainability factor into the products you source?
When we source new products from manufacturers, we look for items that are design orientated, stylish and functional but we also try to find products that have been created with some principles and practices of sustainability and environment in mind.
We generally choose products that have a beautiful story to tell.
Do you have any particular favourite designers you admire?
I like locally made products… such as Cubec clothing in the CBD, or Dot and Herbey in St Kilda- I am very fond of shopping at design markets in Melbourne – always a huge range of new and quirky products. As far as homewares go, we don’t follow any particular designer – we like to see what others are doing but more than anything we focus on what we are doing – we are an office full of strong women so there is a lot of good intuitive decision making going on which we use together with working with industrial designers and artists to help us create our product ranges.
What is a favourite piece you are selling right now and what do you love about it?
We just added the Vance Kitira candles which we love because they are colourful and have a beautiful story attached to them. We also like Vance himself as he does a lot for the communities in Thailand, and is a great lover of nature so he considers environmental factors when producing his candles. We love the texture and tone of colors, they are more natural looking than your average candles that are glossy.
What is your own decorating style?
I am an Aquarius – it chops and changes all the time. I am very contrary – With my European blood, I love classic simple like our Danish OOhh range, and then with my Mexican influence (having grown up in Mexico), I love color and crazy like our European tea-light holders.
What is something in your home that means the most to you?
My stove – the heart of the home
What a wonderful range and this is just a tiny piece! I am in love with so much of these gorgeous pieces! Do you have a favourite?
Hop on the Koh Living Website for more