There’s no denying that the internet has turned the concept of the ‘loyal customer’ into a bit of an archaic novelty. With a flick of a wrist we can pick and choose objects from across the globe and from hundreds of multiple stores without a care in the world.
It’s even spawned a scary new type of retail – the aggregate store – a digital beast which serves no other purpose than to accumulate all the products from multiple shops into a single place and it’s as convenient as it is soulless…
We say this because our experience with Citizens Of The World has brought us into contact with so many unique store concepts from owners who are bravely rejecting the mass of the web in favour of artful curation. These are the business people who are standing out from the sea of sameness.
Belinda Cendron of The Sourceress is one such retailer. Although we hate to call her that. She’s so much more; a stylist, editor and bonafide super sleuth for some of the world’s most unique treasures.
Her work sees her hunt down (sometimes for months) for the perfect ethically sourced reindeer hide, piece of polished petrified wood or a rare Monarch butterfly specimen. Nothing is mass produced and everything has a story.
The shop is actually more of a delightful museum of rare finds rather than simple retail. In a time when more choice is often thought of as better – there’s a serious cache to owning a piece from The Sourceress and knowing that you’re the only one who has it. That’s something we’re happy to pay a premium for.
Therefore it was no surprise to find that Cendron’s Vaucluse home is as inspiring as her store and we got lost for hours just taking mental notes (“We really need more taxidermy”/”Must buy more ferns.”).
We also tried picking her brain on where she finds her pieces – which is the only question Cendron will draw the line at. After all, a Sourceress has to have a few secrets up her sleeve.
“I found this place online after an 8 month search, I took one look at the view, tested the shower pressure, sound checked the thickness of the walls and off I went to the real estate agent to make it immediately mine!! That was 6 years ago.
“It’s an iconic Harry Seidler building that makes the most of the epic views for spectacular sunrises, whale migrations and complete serenity. I’ve spent hours, days and even months at the window to concoct some of my most creative schemes.”
“Waking up to it and coming home to it is like having a “reset button” to clear the mind each day to re-see the world with fresh perspective. Great for creative flow. On a practical level I love the open layout, the white walls, the slate floors that retain the heat, and with clever use of mirrors, a view of the ocean from every room in the house.”
“My background wasn’t always in styling. I got my first job in institutional funds management and after 3 years at university studying finance and marketing, I was informed that it was ‘customary’ to undertake on-going studies with the Securities Institute to further one’s finance career.
I think I knew then that this was never going to happen!”
“I’ve always had, and still have a passion for business strategy and numbers – especially dissecting a P&L to find patterns and trends from which to make calculated business decisions. Hence the last few years before starting The Sourceress I consulted as a General and Commercial Manager for brands like Kellogg, Oroton, Ralph Lauren and other small businesses doing big things.”
“Feeling ‘legit’ as a creative was the hardest part at first. I knew I had the talent but my work history in finance didn’t give me the confidence to really own it, even after I started doing high profile work I still felt like a bit of an ‘imposter’. I just had to change the way I looked at things, honour the work that had done and simply give up the self doubt.”
“I also learnt not to strive for perfection, just action, every day. This really changed the game for me in getting my online store and my regular newsletters out there. It’s important to keep the momentum going.”
“Finding the work/life balance is the hardest. When I started the first pop up shop last year, I wanted to be there as much as I could, I wanted to talk to customers and observe firsthand what they did and didn’t respond to. It was also just a lot of fun being in my own store.
So for most of last year I actually worked seven days a week. It was tough and quite tiring in the end, but it was a great investment in my business and my brand. I have a good wealth of information about my customers, that I use now in developing the online store.”
“My days are a jumble of design projects, new product sourcing, photography, styling and sometimes plain glorified delivery driver! All the time in between, I’m either sleeping or on Instagram. I make an effort to have weekends off and take time out during the week for a sunrise run at the beach, a yoga class or a day off when I need it.”
“When I style the first question I ask the client is “What is the objective?”. Then I can quickly work out how to achieve it. Being clear on the objective is the most important part. I also often ask the client what they think the space needs in order to gauge the size of the gap between my thinking and theirs so I can work out how I will take them on the creative journey and how far we can go.
For a residential space I have a three page questionnaire that covers all the specifics like what rooms we are styling, what items should stay, what can go, budget, time frames everything. A lot of yes/no box ticking to get the client to think about all the elements they may not have considered before we get 90% through the process and they tell me in fact they don’t like the colour pink or whatever the thing is.”