In The Days of Our Lives we meet some fascinating and creative folk and take a look at what their typical day holds. Far from being about the mundane, it is a celebration of what it takes to juggle the day-to-day with big ideas, a successful business and a full home life. It’s about keeping all the balls in the air – what is important and what isn’t. It’s about (extra)ordinary moments that fill our every day.
This week we meet Amber Clohesy, the incredibly creative and fiercely dedicated gal behind wholesale business, Down to the Woods, and recently opened store, The Woodsfolk. Amber’s success hasn’t just come from her knack of turning a flight of fancy into a covetable homewares piece, but her sharp business skills and genuine love of making scary decisions or taking risks – a pretty unique combination that you don’t see all that often.
From cute tuna sandwiches and wrangling bunnies, to juggling multiple timezones and getting down and dirty with design, this is a day in Amber’s life.
I wake each morning to being jumped on by my two girls Willow and Tilda or with a coffee brought to me in bed by my husband Ben, I think they race to see who gets to me first! I’m not a morning person so the coffee is really appreciated.
Ben and I have a morning meeting it’s seems odd but we’ve done it for years and it’s formally diarised. It’s a hold over from before he worked in the business full-time and he crammed the work into odd hours. It’s very casual usually with him perched on the bed – we have a completely open plan house so often this is a family affair.
We then run through what we have on that day both on a personal level (kiddy logistics as we call it) and with both businesses Down To The Woods and The Woodsfolk this is a often a real juggle. I’m often distracted by checking The Age, Instagram (@thewoodsflk and @downtothewoods), email and Facebook (The Woodsfolk, Down To The Woods). All things that could wait till later in the morning, but I’m hooked!
I go for a run around my local oval, it isn’t glamorous – no uber running gear for me, I’m relatively new to it and it’s more shuffle than run! I’m finding it’s even better for my mind than my body and a blasting soundtrack on my ipod really lifts my spirits. I feel so proud of myself all day as I’m not a natural athlete nor have I really enjoyed exercising since leaving school.
I get home to the full morning catastrophe and Ben dashing out the door to the warehouse, most big deliveries arrive early; but at home it’s kiddy breakfast, showers, last minute homework, school notes, rabbit feeding, toddler tantrums.
My daily uniform is a Gorman dress and Salt Water Sandals. While I love design I’m into homewares not fashion! I love to look good but my couch to look better. In fact, my dream would be to have someone buy clothes for me, I’ll just accessorise. That is why I don’t tend to deviate from the Gorman/Saltwater combo, tried and true! I get into trouble from Willow my fashionista 9 year old for keeping this up in winter by adding stockings and skivvies under the dresses!
This is our cross-over time with Europe so I often have to make quick calls and send emails to our suppliers otherwise we loose a full day while I’m awake and they sleep. This is where ABC Kids comes in handy and it calms the house while I’m on these long-distance calls. A necessary evil sometimes!
The kids and I pile out the door for our tiny commute. Because life is so hectic we keep it all close to home with school, kindy, the store and warehouse all within a few minutes of each other. I use these few minutes in the car to talk to my extended family on the hands free.
School drop off’s done and I find myself at the Down To The Woods studio and warehouse. Once there I review what orders are going out, talk through any product dramas with the warehouse and get a handle on expected stock.
I eat breakfast at the studio. I get the same food staples delivered to both home and studio twice weekly as I spend as much time there as home and often the kids do too. It pays to have a full house set-up there with kiddy entertainment, favourite toys and all important food.
I start returning phone and email messages, which I limit to a few hours otherwise I could loose the whole week doing this alone; I’m a bit of a have-a-chat!
The mornings are generally reserved for catching up and product shoots and the afternoons for product design and development. I’m not a morning person and my brain only really gets going after midday. The day can go from designing a new swing tag, to doing post production on product images for press to chatting with our Foreign Exchange dealer about the currency market. I love this mix of design and straight business.
I jump in the car and take stock up to the store, The Woodsfolk. Once there I grab a bite to eat from Tana Cafe across the street. They make the cutest tuna sandwiches; little and dainty and super tasty.
At the store I top-up stock, re-merchandise and chat to Emma our store manager. I work a number of afternoons a week in the store and take the opportunity to see what’s selling and what needs replenishing. I love to move things around and to chat to customers.
If it’s quiet I work on product design either connecting with our current suppliers or hunting down makers for new products. We release two ranges a year with our August release encompassing Christmas. It seems to rock around all too quickly.
I close the doors to the store, tidy up and head home. This takes me a while as I often stay and chat to lingering customers. I don’t see any need to shoo them out the door.
By the time I get home Ben’s collected the kids and has dinner on, he’s great at cooking. Depending on which child gets their way it is either something Italian or Asian!
We hang in the kitchen, chat about the day, share a beer. The kids are usually a part of this and regale us with stories from school and kindy and eat cucumber and capsicum off the chopping board. Willow and I pat the rabbits and throw a ball for the dog. We always eat together as a family at the table, this is really important to us and it’s by far my favourite time of the day. We then repeat the full morning drama, with baths, putting away rabbits, homework panics and lost special toy locating.
We put the kids to bed which is easier than it sounds, both girls have an elaborate bedtime routine; stories, songs, toy puppets and blanket tucking rituals. They share a room but are chalk and cheese. Willow is asleep within minutes and Tilda is a nightly battle. If she’s good we will then catch up on more work once she’s down. If she isn’t and it takes hours which it sometimes can, I just give up and watch T.V while we take turns returning her to bed. Thank god for modern T.V’s that can pause. We’re addicted to anything that’s on ABC 2. But we often go months without switching it on.
I generally read in bed. I read a lot of Alaine de Botton. His essays are mind expanding but not work related so a good chance to escape the day. In recent years I’ve frustratingly completely lost interest in fiction. But often I loose whole nights on my phone reading the paper, checking Instagram and email. I’d be lost without my phone but my family would rejoice!
I pop my phone onto ‘flight mode’ so I don’t get disturbed by suppliers forgetting about the time difference and finally it’s lights out!
The Woodsfolk // 39 Church Street // Hawthorn, VIC // T: 03 9853 7581