When New York native Stephanie Chambers moved to Australia in 2016 with her partner, Sydneysider Amy Ranck, she tried to find lightweight souvenirs to send home to her family. "We couldn't quite find anything that fit the bill," she says.
So Chambers, who is an artist, and Ranck, a graphic designer, decided to start their own business, Outer Island, to make beautiful, nature-inspired bits and bobs that wouldn't require a fortune in stamps. The pair are showcasing their pieces at the Big Design Market selling their native animal Christmas tree ornaments, organic linen tea towels and handmade bon-bons, all crafted from natural or recyclable materials in their Darlinghurst studio.
The couple are avid birdwatchers and the creatures feature heavily in their designs with familiar animals such as the sulphur-crested cockatoo and budgerigar, as well as more quirky choices such as the wompoo fruit dove. "The flora and fauna here are different than any other country in the world," Chambers says. "I'm constantly surprised by what I see. Australia is this endless source of inspiration."
The pair had major discussions over whether to use the word souvenir to describe their pieces, as it more commonly conjures up images of cheesy clip-on koalas, before deciding to reclaim the taboo term.
"It's such a dirty word. Like no artist, no designer, is going to say what I'm making is a souvenir," Chambers says. "But we decided we really want to make souvenirs, because souvenir doesn't need to mean something that's made overseas cheaply with lots of plastic and a big carbon footprint."
The Big Design Market, 10am-5pm, Royal Hall of Industries, Errol Flynn Boulevard, Moore Park, $2, sydney.thebigdesignmarket.com
We are a sustainably focused Sydney based souvenir company with the goal of creating Australian souvenirs that are actually made in Australia. Our mission is to bring awareness to the magic of Oz by creating products that focus on native plants, animals and habitats. We are avid birders, snorkelers and bush walkers and work out of our sunny studio in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
Say hello and visit us at our next market :)