The beauty of Country Culture products is that they have a story behind them, which gives them talk-ability.
People remember our products because they have integrity.
Lavender Family. Photo credit Michael Wee
Angela Lavender is a curator of regional Australia, dealing in pieces that herald from the country.
Her shop is Country Culture, an online store that trades in a range of products – from women’s hats, scarves and jewellery to leather bags, mens products, stationery, ceramics and everything in between – all beautifully made and designed with love.
As Country Culture is such an advocate for seeking and supporting rural designers and wares – Graziher has sought out Angela’s story: from growing up in rural NSW to creating this wonderful online global marketplace.
“Our products are genuine, unique and mostly hand made items. Many are one off. Many goods are undiscovered and it’s their first time on line.”
Lavender Family. Photo credit Michael Wee
Angela is deeply involved with the running and progression of Country Culture, living and breathing it during the workweek.
“With a small business, you need to be jack of all trades.
“I am involved with every aspect and make all of the decisions.
“I really love what I do and enjoy seeing the company grow.”
Angela grew up in regional NSW Wagga Wagga with retail in her blood. “My mother owned the local homewares store and fashion boutique.”
So with an interest in art, design and being a lover of style, it is a little unsurprising that Angela’s ventures have flourished.
After boarding school and studying teaching in Sydney, Angela met her husband, Charles Lavender and moved to Spring Ridge onto his family property.
The nearest town is 75kms away, in North Western NSW, where Angela, Charles and their family farms wheat, sorghum, sunflowers, mung beans, chickpeas, corn, cotton and cattle.
Angela, Country Culture centre. Photo credit Maree Homer
Her first venture into ecommerce shopping was in 2009, opening a small online store with unique products sourced and manufactured mostly overseas.
In 2011 she won “Best New Business Award” at the Quirindi Chamber of Commerce Awards – possibly a small sign that she was on the right track, and in the right business.
The lightbulb moment for Country Culture was at a trade fair in Sydney, Angela realising the opportunity in that there was more of a unique range of designers and makers from regional Australia, and would particularly support makers from the area she lived.
“There was such a groundswell of support and interest that I felt it was high time and that I took talents of many Australian designers from hidden places, and shared them with the world.”
Photo credit Maree Homer
Consequently Angela sold her first business and created Country Culture, “Which I felt much more passionate about.”
A steep learning curve ensured. Was Angela proficient in ecommerce?
“No and I am still learning!
“I have a great team around me who are holding my hand but my knowledge is growing daily!”
“I had to create a unique brand by working closely with a design team to come up with a concept, logo mark and packaging.
“ I also had to do a lot of research about finding the best software to build the site with, find the right developer and set up all social media channels.
“ I worked with business mentors & marketing teams to make sure our message was clear.”
Finding the featured products was an integral part of Country Culture, as they wanted to showcase an eclectic range of beautiful, unusual products that haven’t been seen by the masses.
Angela set out travelling and seeking out Australian artisans and inviting them to be involved. She found there was a treasure chest, “filled to the brim with amazing Australian products – you just have to dig a little deeper to find them.”
“It was wonderful to meet the people behind these great brands in their regional setting.
“I get the greatest kick out of forming solid relationships and working with talented designers to get their product to a new market.”
“Each item has its unique story to tell and products to showcase, whether from NSW’s Nundle or the Northern Territory. They are each inspired by the beauty that surrounds them & it’s reflected in their products.”
“I am now becoming well known as a curator who brings Australia’s best- kept secrets to the world. And I feel really proud of the Australian designer products that are created in Australia.”
Supporting this industry sits very nicely with Angela. Larger corporate companies are consequently finding Country Culture and, “we are helping them deliver quality and unique gifts to their partners, delegates, staff and overseas business associates.”
The key to success of Country Culture Angela says is quality, an interesting story and her own passion for supporting local traders which is evident in the line up of traders featured on the site.
“The store is growing in popularity as we increase our marketing campaigns. We have a loyal customer base who keep coming back time and time again. The Bush Telegraph has worked well for us, which is what we hoped for.
“Recently, I have been involved in working with like minded businesses to help with styling using our Australian products which has been fun!
credit Michael Wee
UNIQUE AUSTRALIAN DESIGN ELEMENTS INCORPORATED
Rusty, Country Culture’s blue heeler mascot, represents everything that is special and unique about regional Australia. Man’s best friend, Rusty loves discovering new-found talent and telling stories from regional Australia.
Customers are very impressed with our packaging- they love the map of Australia tissue paper with our bright orange Rusty logo and twine. The wrapping celebrates our product range in a stylish and understated way.
Lavender Farm canola fields
Q&A With Angela Lavender
What would you say your are an advocate for, if for anything, in the rural scene?
In the rural scene, I support the fight against mining on the Liverpool Plains- Australia’s richest farming country. I am not against mining- it’s just wrong mine, wrong place. Who wants a dirty great coal mine in one of the best food producing areas in Australia? It affects everyone who eats! We need to stop the government making such short-sighted decisions! No mining on the Liverpool Plains or any farming land in Australia, I say!
What does success mean to you?
Success means enjoying your life and making a difference. I believe it’s about working hard but not shaving a business which dictates your life . You really need to be enjoying what you do to feel successful. I also love sharing success stories with the traders I repres
ent. As Country Culture grows, it helps their businesses grow alongside us which I love. I look at some of our product range and our client base and appreciate how far we have come.
We are now being invited to have a presence at large Australian events whether it be showcasing our Australian product range or styling, so I realise what a difference we are making.
At what point did you realise Country Culture was a success?
When people started knowing my brand and saying, “Hey I didn’t know that was your business!”
That brand awareness is growing which creates more business. which makes me and the traders happy!
What gave you the motivation/inspiration to follow your idea of country culture?
I think living in the country on an isolated property and feeling that lack of connection. I thought if I am feeling it then others are too. So I created Country Culture to share stories, products and lifestyles with others across Australia and around the world.
Something you love/are passionate about the country lifestyle?
Country Homes and gardens including long lunches, on country verandahs.
I love the way people take time to have a cup of tea with each other, community spirit and the way people pull together to support each other,
When I’m not travelling the countryside researching traders for Country Culture… …
I look after our tribe of four children. The older three are now at boarding school in Sydney and our youngest is still at our local primary school which has 30 kids all up!
When you were a child, what did you want to “be” when you grew up?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer or journalist. I ended up doing a Bachelor of Education and taught for many years but in the back of my mind had an idea to set up a retail store.
Funnily enough, I now seem to be finding stories and writing about makers and the places they come from which is ironic!
Lavender family farm. Credit Michael Wee.
What would 5 of your current products/designers be?
With winter coming along…
I love the Wic and Folk range of chunky knitted baskets.
For winter wardrobe cashmere pieces, Cashmerism and Everyday Cashmere have stunning ranges of beautiful pieces in winter tones.
Corridale Etc sells amazing merino woollen blankets in natural tones to wrap around yourself on the sofa when it’s chilly.
Convict Leather have an amazing collection of leather and hide bags, clutches and totes.
And Bonnie and Neil tablecloths to add a touch of depth and colour to your table when entertaining in winter.
POP OVER TO COUNTRY CULTURE TO GET YOUR FILL OF WINTER WOOLIES AND MUCH MORE