Husband-and-wife duo, Tim and Sally Scarce, make up the creative brains and brawn behind bespoke furniture brand Green Cathedral. I chat to the couple about their bold move to open a showroom in Melbourne and the challenges that come with managing a small business across two States, with three kids in tow.
What’s the story behind the name Green Cathedral?
Tim: ‘Green Cathedral’ is a surfing term for when you are inside the barrel of a wave, otherwise known as The Green Room. There is no feeling like it; it’s a feeling of freedom, a rush and a knowing that in that moment all the forces of nature have conspired to put you exactly where you are supposed to be.
In 2009, wanting desperately to leave the aviation industry (after 12 years), I started working from my tiny backyard shed on my days off, making surfboards and furniture pieces for friends and family. One particular Sunday afternoon surf session in Noosa, just as the sun was setting, I caught the perfect wave and in that moment I decided that I was going to move to Noosa from my home in Brisbane and follow my dream to make furniture full time. Within two months I had sold my house, taken a redundancy from Boeing, moved to Noosa and bought my bigger (and coincidentally green) shed and some new tools … and so Green Cathedral began.
With your factory and first showroom located in Noosa, what was behind your recent decision to open a showroom in Melbourne?
We launched our Babanees range in 2012 with an on-consignment arrangement with a local Noosa shop on Hastings Street. Within three months we were contacted by four Melbourne shop owners who had seen our products whilst on holidays, requesting to stock our pieces. We opened our first Design Gallery in Noosa in August 2013 and, although we had some great local support, 70 per cent of our customers were holidaymakers from Melbourne who would visit the shop because they had been following us on Instagram.
Late last year we hit our production capacity and realised that we would not be able to sustain our business and our pricing (or our sanity) if we continued to wholesale. We worked out that 85 per cent of what we produced, ended up in Melbourne and by dropping wholesale and selling direct to our customers we could offer all of our designs, at a reasonable price and essentially make the same amount of furniture with greater income. At the end of the day, opening the Melbourne showroom made good business sense.
Many people point out parallels between Noosa and Melbourne. Do you find that to be true?
Sally: Noosa and Melbourne share a love of the epicurean lifestyle, strong support for their local creative industries, and fierce loyalty to their city. The energy, culture, diversity and open-mindedness in Melbourne is as exhilarating as the natural beauty, and the relaxed lifestyle of Noosa is invigorating.
How do you manage the two locations and with three children?
Renovating the Melbourne Design Gallery with all of our tools and machinery in Noosa was a massive challenge. We ended up driving to Melbourne with a trailer of tools in the Christmas holidays and ‘camped’ inside the space for three weeks with the kids. Our daughter Bella (14) is a great help with her little brothers, Bailey (9) and Archie (2).
Now, I spend four to five days in Melbourne each fortnight, which has taken some serious juggling and dependency on family and friends. It’s all made possible with a very supportive and dedicated team in both Melbourne and Noosa.
What’s your ultimate objective for Green Cathedral?
After 400 per cent growth in just under three years, we have realised that to grow bigger would mean making compromises that we don’t want to make. So for the next 12 months, at least, we will be focusing on establishing ourselves in the Melbourne market and finishing the renovations in the Design Gallery, including our outdoor area for our soon-to-be-launched outdoor range.
Our pieces are timeless, modern classics and are an authentic representation of us and our brand. We make our pieces to last and hope that in 20 to 30 years they will be sought-after collector pieces. Ultimately, we just want to make beautiful furniture and sustain a profitable business that we can be proud of so that we can build our dream home in Noosa and make fond family memories.
We are Michael and Carlene; home renovators, designers, writers, TV personalities and parents. You can come here to find a candid account of our renovating experiences, insight into our design projects, and for design tips and tricks. Subscribe below to keep up-to-date.