We caught up with Chloe Brookman, one half of Olli Ella, to chat about travel, renovations, sustainable living, motherhood, business AND the lovely idea of a digital detox. After a nomadic life as a child, Chloe still manages make time to travel to all corners of the globe (and in style, we might add!) whilst running a business, creating one amazing homewares piece after another, and completing a home reno... all with a tribe in tow.
Read on to see just how she successfully juggles it all...
You co-founded Olli Ella back in 2010 with your sister Olivia, after being unable to find a suitable nursery chair for your first child Tennyson. If we fast forward to today, your product range has diversified with a focusing on creating products that aren’t just for the nursery, but for the rest of the home too. How do you see Olli Ella evolving from here?
I think we have really grown a lot, both personally and as a brand; when we first started Olli Ella neither of us had children yet, and this was our first foray into product design and development. We have really found our stride, and also gained the confidence to design and make products that we love, and that we want to create. In terms of where we are headed, expect to see expansion of our existing categories, and some more surprises not too far away!
You travelled a lot as a child moving from the UK, to Australia, and then moving to Los Angeles in your teens; how did the immersion in such different cultures shape your personality, and the way that you think?
I love this question! I think it made my sisters and I adaptable, and more open minded because we were exposed to these different cultures, which as an adult now I think about it the difference in the culture of these three major cities might not be as extreme as it felt at the time, but for a teenager and young child it did feel massive. It’s made me appreciate different perspectives, and ways of thinking, and as an adult I’ve learnt to make friends easily as a result of moving around so much as a child. I love new places and have continued the wanderlust with my own family; we recently relocated from Sydney where we had lived for the past five years, to Byron Bay - and just seeing how my children have just thrived from the adventure and new experience just reinforces that sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone a bit is the best thing in the world.
You’ve recently moved from Sydney, to Byron Bay: how has this impacted your family’s lifestyle, and well-being?
We LOVE it! Of course we miss our family and friends but to be able to slow down a bit, be together in a way that the lifestyle in Sydney did not afford us - it’s been such a boon. We’ve made some lovely friends up here, were lucky enough to buy some acreage and have been renovating an old 70’s brick house on the top of a hill overlooking all of the bay, it’s magical.
You’ve been renovating a house in the Byron Bay hills: how has your new environment influenced your interior design decisions?
I think we’ve had a lot more room to play with (our last renovation was a 200 square metre property in Balmain, compared to the 1.5 acres we have here!), and we challenged ourself with a tight budget and a goal of repurposing 90% of all of the materials used in the renovation! Style wise I’ve always been drawn to the layered, comfy chaos of the 70’s home, before things were were so ‘curated’. With three high energy kids, and a dog that has a penchant for digging up the garden, having things in our home that were too precious or that we would worry about getting dirty/ broken just wasn’t an option.
When you walk in the door to your home, what is it that you want to feel?
When styling your children's bedrooms, how much are these spaces a reflection of them, over you?
As children grow their needs and tastes evolve; what advice would you give to parents when designing and styling their children’s bedrooms?
Give them some boundaries (i.e. it might be restricting certain colours or furnishings) to start with but work with them to create a space that they love.
Focusing on sustainable living encourages us to lose unnecessary clutter: where do you sit on the interior design scale of minimalist to maximalist?
I am on the maximalist end of the spectrum when it comes to tchotchkes, pillows, plants, pottery and blankets, everything else is on the minimal end of the spectrum.
You are a mumma of three, a wife, and a successful entrepreneur; how do you incorporate your desires to live a slow life into such a fast-paced, busy world?
When I talk about a slow life it’s for me more about taking the rush out of the day; I love that we all wake up at 6 am, get to spend three hours together in the morning as a family before the big kids go to school, being together in the afternoons and going to the beach and not having to contend with traffic, or a multitude of after school activities. My husband and I cook together and we all sit down for meals as a family, we play a lot, it’s a fun house. Not to say that things don’t get stressful, or that our kids don’t drive us up the wall BUT we are in a position to be able to take it all in - the good and the bad and enjoy the chaos.
How does the thought of taking a digital detox make you feel?
I was saying this the other day to a friend, that if I would just take the plunge and relinquish our social media to a professional, and stop doing it myself I would have no problem having a digital detox - ongoing! I just need to make the jump. I don’t spend much time on social media, I love interacting with our customers but don’t find the time to be as engaged with other accounts the way I did a few years back when it was all so new. Digital Detox; I’m coming for ya!