What's she up to now? Tess Lloyd & Maja Rose of Polli

You might remember we interviewed Tess Lloyd and Maja Rose in Conversations with Creative Women. In the book, they detailed how they met, why they began Polli, and how they built the company to be a family-friendly business with an international reputation for Australian-made, eco-friendly jewellery and accessories. Since 2011 a few things have changed around the Polli office, but their creative output continues to be colourful and on-trend. I spoke to Tess and Maja to find out what they've been up to...

Tess Lloyd (left) and Maja Rose of Polli

What was Polli's biggest achievement in 2012? {Tess} 2012 was a really difficult year, I think our biggest achievement is staying positive, pushing ourselves to try new things and still keeping that love of what we do.

Maja, you have been living in the United States for the last few months. How has your business adapted to this change? Any tips for sustaining creative partnerships across oceans? {Maja} Everyone tells you long distant relationships are hard, and it’s true! The first months of setting up life here were really challenging, especially with a demanding 18-month old. We’re now in a good routine where Jasper goes to ‘school’ and I have dedicated Polli time. The time zone from Sydney to Pittsburgh PA is the exact opposite. There are no crossover work hours. When I’m awake Tess is sleeping and vice versa. This means we have to be good communicators through email and I’ll regularly work after Jasper is in bed to get some hours online with Tess.

These days it’s much easier to stay connected, we use screen-sharing technology to see what each other is working on, this was great with the catalogue so Tess could see on her screen the images as they were being placed in the catalogue. We also have online documents which we can both access and modify, such as a calendar with all our important dates. 'Facetime' is our favourite meeting medium, as often we get to see each other’s kids which is a bonus.

The best tips would be to keep the lines of communication wide open, be planned and use technology to help as much as possible.

Maja, given that Polli's products are largely influenced by flora, fauna and architecture, how has the change in environment from Sydney to Pittsburgh affected your creative output? {Maja} Living in Pittsburgh has different sources of inspiration to Sydney, the one that has caught me by surprise is the seasons. We arrived at the beginning of Spring where the trees were in full bloom. I’d never seen trees lining the streets in bloom like that before (closest thing in Sydney would be the Jacaranda trees in November). Then Summer was so hot, the only respite was the shade of our local park which is basically woods with paths through it. Then Autumn came - 'Wow' is the one word that comes to mind! There were reds, oranges, yellows, and greens making the hills look like they were on fire. We had squirrels in our garden collecting acorns for the winter and mountains of leaves. Now we are in winter with a blanket of white snow covering the ground. I’ve never lived with snow before and it’s truly magical, making grey cold miserable days feel wondrous and light.

In saying all this, being away has also giving me a greater appreciation of Australian flora and fauna. I loved working on some of the new Australiana designs coming out in our next release. You can take the girl out of Australia but you can’t take Australia out of the girl!

You shared some pics on Instagram recently and alluded to a 'colour-bombing' project in collaboration with designer Beattie Lanser. They looked intriguing! Can you let us in on what it's all about? {Tess} Inspired by Holi, the Indian colour festival, we set to work to recreate the colourful clouds in a photography studio in Sydney’s Inner West. After lots of testing (and mess) in local lanes we perfected the process using powdered water colour paints and trampoline style propulsions were used to create the clouds which we hoped to use in our upcoming catalogue.

Our friendship with the fashion designer Beattie Lanser has grown through Instagram and after sneak peeks of our project she agreed to make a custom white jump suit and lend a hand for the shoot. The project was a lot of fun.

Tess, you attended our first CWC in Sydney last October. What did you think of the event? Do you see the CWC 'fitting in' to the creative landscape in Sydney? {Tess} It was such a great afternoon. The event had a very communal feel and Julie Paterson, the speaker, was so honest it was really refreshing. The accessibility of the event through its casual nature, affordability, central location and openness made it unlike any other creative session I’ve attended. Definitely keen for more events in Sydney with the CWC.

Polli introduced some bold geometric accessories to the range in 2012 - which are your favourites and why? {Tess}The Flag series are such a great collection of abstract geometric segmentation; offsetting natural timber against pops of bold neon or metallic colours. We love colour and it’s great to play with different finishes and combinations after 10 years of working almost solely in stainless steel.

{Maja} I love the rainbow hexagon beads, they are my staple piece at the moment and they go with everything.

These sweet flower presses are a new addition to the Polli range this year. What was the inspiration behind them? {Tess} The sweet Polli flower presses was a project we were both passionate about. Having young children of our own we were keen to expand our sweet Polli range for the young / young at heart. We wanted the flower press to be unique, sustainable and Australian. The circular design features original sketches of Australian natives and water colours. Naturally it’s made in Australia from plantation grown hoop pine ply and all paper and card is recycled.

What are you both looking forward to this year, personally and for the business?

{Tess} I’m excited to see the end of 2012, a fresh start sounds filled with possibilities and positivity. On a personal note we’re excited to be visiting Maja in Pittsburgh in June. {Maja} I’m looking forward to working on new products in new mediums for Polli. We’re very excited that Tess + family are coming to see us in Pittsburgh.

All products shown here are available online at Polli.

We're running a Membership Drive at the moment, and the ladies of Polli have generously donated a $150 gift voucher for one lucky new member to spend in their online store! Find out more here.