Many of you know the beautiful objects Miranda Moreira creates for her business Bride&Wolfe, however, many don’t know its fairytale beginnings. From studying fine art with high distinctions and getting a gallery contract, to completing an apprenticeship with Greg Malouf, to becoming the private residential chef for Gerard Depardieu in Paris for 6 years. I certainly didn’t know and it makes me love Miranda’s work more.
I asked Miranda to share her story from amazing beginnings, how she manages her wholesaler relationships, the benefits of markets and diversifying, her recent invitation to the Paris Design Show and the importance of trusting your instincts.
From art school, to living and working in Paris, how did you arrive at exploring and establishing your own successful product range and business?
The Bride&Wolfe journey is a little bit of a fairytale. I studied fine art and finished well with high distinctions, but after years of schooling I’d run out of puff, and had a strong case of wanderlust. Keen to find a way of exploring the world with a creative career that wasn’t so precarious, I reinvented myself as a chef, finishing my apprenticeship with Greg Malouf in 1999 and immediately taking off for Europe.
I was working as a chef in London when I met and became friends with Carole Bouquet and her partner, the actor Gerard Depardieu. Within weeks I was in Paris, living in Gerard’s house as private chef for the next six years.
It was such a unique experience of French culture. I lived alongside their amazing art collection- original Rodin sculptures in the living room, Picabia paintings on the walls, Matisse etchings in the bathroom, it was mind-blowing. I learnt French quickly and my working life involved making dinners and conversation with film directors, actors and writers.
This high cultural influence was a great contrast to my own personal experience of Paris; wandering for miles across the city with my camera in hand, finding treasure in flea markets and artisanal shops, making new friends, just soaking everything in. It was brilliant.
I was still pursuing my art, making paintings, sculptures and collages, working from an old printmaking atelier in the 11th arrondissiment. I knew I’d eventually move home to Melbourne and couldn’t see myself as a chef forever, as much as I enjoyed it.
This is when the concept for Bride&Wolfe really started forming in my mind- living in Paris, making art, and imagining a working life back in Australia creating beautiful and personal objects for people’s homes.
As a maker, you are constantly exploring materials and construction. With a busy production schedule maintaining orders, do you purposefully allow time to create new products?
Early mornings and late evenings are set aside for writing and sketching up ideas; this is how new products are born.
I don’t know if routine is the right word as every day is so different, but to keep happy and productive my priorities are:
Music time- it’s a constant at home and at work.
Art time- whether it’s visiting local galleries or burying myself in an art book, art is part of the fabric of my life.
Exercise time- I have a ridiculous dance-based workout routine that has increased my levels of ‘happy’ and made my working days more productive.
Alone time- A little alone time everyday is important. It’s how I recharge and refocus when the (wonderful!) demands of work and family can get too much.
How did you establish your relationships with your wholesalers/stockists?
I love my stockists, and for the most part I really enjoy wholesaling.
I’d say do your research and follow the 80-20 rule. Like all industries there are some challenging personalities in retail, and some stockists are very high maintenance. This is okay, but if they are not making good steady big orders then you need to decide if the time spend dealing with them is worth it!
Despite an established network of wholesalers/stockists, including being part of the David Bowie International touring exhibition, why are markets still important to you and what makes participating in a market successful for you?
There are some fantastic design markets in Oz, but they can be a lot of hard work. While my main focus has always been the online shop, markets are a fantastic way to connect with my customers. I love the feedback. My customers are super cool people and often involved in creative industries; with each new product the customer base grows and evolves. Recently I’ve noticed men really getting into Bride&Wolfe, which is brilliant.
What percentage of your sales come from your own ?
The online shop makes up the majority of my sales- wholesaling is wonderful but sometimes not very cost effective. Most of my international stockists have found me via design blogs and magazines.
Diversifying is really important, but also keeping it contained and balanced- I instinctively grow the brand at a rate I’m comfortable with.
Your 'Mesh Shelves' product range (above) recently represented Australia at the 2016 Paris Design Week. How did this opportunity transpire and do you actively market Bride&Wolfe to be internationally recognised?
I was approached by a French curator who had seen my products on an international design blog, and he thought The Mesh Range range would work well in Paris, and he was right. It was a fabulous show, and the whole week in Paris was a dream.
Up until I started Bride&Wolfe I had no idea what PR or marketing meant- but really I see all communication as a form of marketing. Whether it’s an Instagram video ‘story’, having a laugh with an upcoming stylist or being involved in a Paris design show; at it’s essence it’s all about communicating, it’s about creating and sharing information, and growing brand awareness.
Lastly, how important are your support networks and what is some of the best advice you've received when you were establishing yourself?
My friends are my support networks. Spending time with my girlfriends is super important - aside from the general hilarity that unfolds when we’re together, they inspire me, level me and guide me.
Look at businesses you admire and analyse what it is about them that works. Lots of research, book reading and asking the right advice, have a manageable growth plan and trust your instincts.
Annette Wagneris a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist, and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.