Welcome to ‘Chasing Spring loves…’ a new series where I will be chatting with inspirational and talented women from across Australia. Perhaps they’re rocking it in the small business world, or their Instagram feed has me all heart eyes, or maybe they’re doing awesome things for the environment and sustainability. I’ll be talking to artisans, interiors enthusiasts, indoor plant experts, environmental warriors and many more. They all have a great story to tell… but best of all, they have some great tips and advice to help you create your sanctuary. Keep an eye out, there are some amazing women coming your way! And what a way to start… with the oh-so-talented and all-round-gorgeous Ilona from Otti Made… Grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy…
Ilona Glastonbury lives in the beautiful Barossa Valley where she runs her eco businesses Otti Made and The Hundred Mile Home, and juggles family and rural life. I have been following (and gushing over) Ilona’s stunning Instagram feed for some time, and I was super excited to snap up some of her gorgeous wears recently… a perfect little ceramic and hazelwood spoon and a gorgeous set of salt and pepper dishes. When the Otti Made products arrived, they were even more amazing than I had imagined, and Ilona’s environmentally sustainable ethos really had me inspired. I just had to learn more about her and her gorgeous business. Ilona kindly agreed to an interview, and talks about her handmade business, her burning desire to create a more sustainable future for her kids, and gives us some tips on becoming more sustainable and earth friendly in our everyday lives.
What is Otti Made?
The word Otti is a combination of the middle letters in my children’s names. Initially Otti Made came about as a response to my deep desire to do all I can for them, to ensure they live in a more sustainable and earth friendly place than we do today.
Tell us a bit more about yourself… the face behind Otti Made
I trained as a visual artist at university and I suppose ever since then have been making in one way or another. I think after the children were born I really started to question what sort of future lay ahead. For everyone.. And it also became important to me, really important, to be able to look them in the eye in 10 or 20 years time and be able to say ‘I did everything I could to ensure your safety and security and the health of the planet upon which that depends’. And so I found myself looking at my skill set to work out what exactly it was that I could do in order to feel this way.
Making things sings to me. So does the nurturing involved with gathering people to share in meals. And making beautiful things with which to share those important moments seemed like the natural fit.
The ‘100 mile principle’ and ‘locavore traditions’… tell us more! What is it and what inspired you to implement this sustainable and ethical ethos?
I worked in the food and wine industry here in the Barossa before having children and one of the things I saw and loved was the locavore eating movement that was gaining traction in the United States. This was the genesis of the idea behind the parameters I gave Otti Made. All materials, makers and designers were to be sourced within 100 miles of where I live
The wonderful thing about where I am located is that there is a great source of local clay within the 100 mile radius, so ceramics became the natural first port of call for me. Wood has also been quite an easy medium to use following this principle as there is plenty of opportunity for reclaiming woods and sustainably harvesting timbers near here. The Hazel that I use for the ceramic and wood spoons comes from a stand of trees in the Adelaide Hills that were coppiced last year and that by chance I discovered were to be burnt. Rescuing the wood and turning it into items that are cherished has been a satisfying journey.
And of course new materials of a reclaimed nature are always finding their way to me. At the moment I am working with some Barossa Coffee Roasters coffee bean bags reclaiming the jute from them to use as string.
Otti Made has gone through a bit of a name change and shuffle this past little bit though and is now confined to being objects that I make myself. I have recently introduced The Hundred Mile Home as the space in which I promote beautiful well designed and made hundred mile objects. So the principles are the same, Otti Made is now just for my pieces and The Hundred Mile Home is where you will find works by other local artisans.
What’s in store for Otti Made in the future?
I still have small children and at the moment life is very much about trying to find a balance between living in the moment with them (gardening, cooking, building tree houses and the like) and running these two businesses and all that entails. It’s a flexible lifestyle, but a constant juggle. There are lots of exciting things on the horizon, slow gatherings, slow making events and the like, but the timeframes for these things is somewhat dictated by my families needs. Things will come to pass when they need to.
You’re obviously very committed to a sustainable and ethical way of life…any tips on how to implement changes in our own homes?
The one principle I like to refer to is that of the campsite rule. Combined with the idea of ‘do your best, forget the rest’. The campsite rule works on the principle that when you arrive somewhere to camp you are only going to be there for a limited time and that you need to leave the campsite in as good a state when you leave as when you arrived. Apply it to your life and it will change how you treat the planet, because really, we are all only camping for a short time here.
When combined with ‘do your best, forget the rest’, it also means, all any of us can do is our best. Our locations, our financial circumstances, our support systems and our emotional state all have an impact on just how far we can go to being sustainable custodians of the patch of earth we find ourselves on. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t catch public transport to work. Or grow your own veges, or use cloth nappies. Just do the best you can with what you have.
Where can we find you and purchase your amazing goods?
The Otti Made store ottimade.com.au
The hundred mile home blog and shop thehundredmilehome.com
A massive thanks to Ilona for taking the time to join me at Chasing Spring as my very first ‘Chasing Spring Loves…’ guest! You really must pop over to her website, be inspired, and pick up a little piece of handmade goodness for yourself… I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!
See you next time…Keep Chasing…
Disclaimer: I was not paid to blog about any businesses or products in this blog post. All views and opinions are my own.