Happy Birthday to Us!
We can't believe it - we're a year old!
We were so happy to celebrate Outer Island's one year anniversary this October :) -- Just before we started the business, Amy and I were sitting outside, drinking a few beers and working on a brainstorming exercise. Before we moved to Australia, we knew we wanted to work together, but we weren't sure exactly what we wanted to create. The only thing we knew for sure was that we wanted it to be something we both felt excited about doing.
We made it fun and asked ourselves all sorts of crazy questions before deciding what direction to go in. We even had very official looking sheets and wrote our answers down separately, including drawing pictures as answers to the more fun questions. Through this exercise we realized the thing we were both most excited and passionate about was creating good quality well designed Australian souvenirs that were actually made in Australia. We both love to travel and collect and we wanted the souvenirs to focus on native plants and animals because we are obsessed and wanted to shine a spotlight on how amazing they are.
Before we started Outer Island, I was doing fine art / licensing / illustration. My focus was on patterns and images of plants and animals. I've always loved birds too and focused on including them in my artwork for years, seriously starting to get into bird watching a few years ago. Amy was doing graphic design and web design. She had also become really interested in sustainability in her design practice and personal life.
Around the same time that we were brainstorming last year, we were also struggling to add to our Christmas ornament collection. We started it a few years ago and add a few new ornaments each year or if we're traveling we try to get ornaments as a souvenir. We really wanted Australian bird ornaments, but couldn't find any, so in our brainstorming session we decided that we would create a souvenir business and that we would start with Christmas ornaments. Since the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is ubiquitous around Sydney and also stunning, we decided to start there and after many tries we eventually landed on the design and product that we have today.
We also made another decision in our brainstorming session - to be ethical and sustainable in our Outer Island products which we wrote into our mission statement for the company. Although we knew our output and scale would be very small, it was important for us to get this right. This meant getting items made in Australia where wages and working conditions are good and using natural or recyclable materials for our products. Additionally, we also try to source from vendors who have their own sustainable mission statements and use non toxic materials.
It has been a wonderful year and we've learned so much. Most of all, we are extremely grateful to the people who've purchased our products, given us a chance or offered guidance or support along the way. We could not do what we do without you guys. We had fee shipping the month of October to celebrate and we're going to continue that each birthday month to say a small thank you. We truly <3 you guys. Thank you for being a part of our journey to one.
Stephanie + Amy