What is the story behind The Utility Co. brand?
We have always shared an appreciation for the refined, considered and functional use of design. We both possess skillsets in the creative industry that compliment each other and because of that we have always worked very well together.
We knew that we wanted to work together and create a platform where we had no creative limitations. We wanted freedom to create products in Melbourne, with the ability to control all aspects of the business from production to marketing. Most importantly we wanted to create a brand that showcased the importance of local design and manufacturing for a sustainable future.
We workshopped a few different ideas but kept returning to reusable bags. With
Kieren having a background in design and textiles, this seemed very achievable. We soon created our debut product, the reusable produce bag and it grew naturally from there.
Who makes your products?
All of our products have been designed and made by the two of us in our Collingwood studio. Our only exception to this rule is when we collaborate on limited edition products with other Melbourne craftspeople.
What is important to you when designing new products?
When designing our products, we work alongside the ethos of the brand. Firstly, all products must have a purpose and must prove themselves to be useful in everyday life.
Secondly, each product must be a sustainable alternative, one that must encourage a more sustainable lifestyle for our customer.
Thirdly, sustainable production and sourcing of materials is very important to us, therefore we will always keep production in Australia.
Last but not least is that all of our products and branding must be as aesthetically pleasing to the consumer as possible, making using reusable products as attractive as possible.
What makes your products unique?
The market is flooded with cheap and cheerful reusables. We believe that it is
counterproductive to produce sustainable products unethically. For that reason, we create all of our products in small batches with our own hands in our Melbourne studio.
This has become our biggest point of difference and has meant that we stand out in the market.
What is next for The Utility Co?
We are two very creative and driven people and because of that we have a backlog of ideas and plans for the future, we just need a little bit more time on our hands haha. In the upcoming months we have a few new products which we will be releasing into the wild as well as a whole new collection of products using new textiles.
What are you listening to right now? Favourite tunes to work to in the studio or
perhaps a podcast?
We do talk and laugh a lot whilst working however we do also love to throw on a little bit of Lorde and Dua Lipa to sew to haha.
What is your number one plastic free tip for 2021?
Our advice in July and always is that when it comes to sustainability, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We have to be realistic about sustainability and accept that any change is better than no change at all. We all are in different situations financially so we need to make small changes when and if possible. For example, if you are not in a situation to be able to go out and buy new reusable bags, carry your groceries out of the store with no bag, you are still making a difference.
Favourite product from Local Pantry Co range that isn’t your own?
We would have to say The Other Straw reusable bamboo straw sets. We love everything that this brand is about, making serious considered change.
Favourite winter meal/recipe/food indulgence, out and about or at home?
We have a serious crush on the store Meatsmith in Fitzroy. This has been our go to this Winter, they offer the most amazing selection of local produce. We love grabbing something to roast at home or we have been known to indulge in a few too many of their house made ham and cheese pithiviers. And of course we have to accompany this with wine from our favourite sustainable wine dealers Glou in Collingwood.
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