Monday, November 14, 2011

interview made in australia - mud

A fabulous way to start the week. I was thrilled that the people from mud were happy to be interviewed and what an interview.  Well considered answers in a truly generous spirit.  There is so much precious information and it gives you a true insight to the values of the mud brand and the people behind it. 
The Mud range have always been a stylist favourite. 
Yes I have a huge design crush. 

Why did you decide on australian made?

We're Australian and we started the business here to manufacture our own designs. As we've grown we've realised that, despite the difficulties, manufacturing locally has allowed us a unique selling proposition and also the ability to fail and succeed at our own scale.

Did you look into manufacturing overseas?

We've looked at it but only academically. The complexities of our line - over 50 shapes in 20 colours - means we'd have to completely relocate the business and we haven't found another location that has the right blend of geographical, cultural and social elements enticing enough to make us leave Sydney. 

Can you describe the process of idea to first samples? Was the learning curve steep?

We researched the market before we started our line and knew there was a gap. The learning curve for us was extremely steep. If you start small, like most Australian companies in our industry, then you need the following skill sets to survive: designer, manufacturer, administrator, manager plus sales & marketing skills. There's no degree that encompasses all these skill sets and the only way to do it is try and either succeed or fail. 

As mentioned above, doing our own manufacturing  allowed us to prototype and introduce shapes and colours at minimal set up cost. If we'd been working with third party manufacturers then the set up and production run minimums would've meant a very different product line - probably a lot less colour and shape. 

What would you do differently if you did it again?

We would definitely have done our own retail stores sooner. It's a great and rewarding opportunity to properly express your brand and engage directly with customers. No-one has the product knowledge we have nor do they have the range. It's also allowed us to sell other lines that have similar design and manufacturing values.

The best thing about australian made?

I'm not sure if there's a best thing. Not really into nationalism for nationalism's sake. We have very consciously structured our business around the idea of people, places & products. Our priority is to do business with good people in nice places selling quality products - that could be Newtown, New York or Tokyo. Locally and globally there are so many companies in a rush to the bottom when it comes to design principles and manufacturing values. (For example: Matt Blatt ... Why don't they design their own furniture rather than poorly imitate other peoples intellectual property?)  We're very happy for them to have that market while we concentrate on quality goods, with  slower sell through at higher prices.

What do you hope for australian manufacturing in the future?

Would love the design manufacturing industries to be big enough so that the trajectory from student to career designer is more like the Scandinavian and European countries, where industry is closely aligned with the schools. Would also like it if our government recognised the value of Australian design in our overall local and international identity and actively encouraged the industry a little more. It's a big world and the main markets for our products outside of Australia are very protective of their industries and make it extremely expensive for Australian companies to compete due to taxes, freight and duties. In Australia, we are very free trade and basically allow overseas design companies access to our market with very little restriction. It'd be nice if the playing field was a little bit flatter.