October not only heralds the start of summer in beautiful New Zealand, but is the six-month mark that signifies my leap into this little studio as a full-time gig. As I sit on our deck drinking my morning coffee, I reflect on where I was this time last year and how grateful I am for the people who have been part of this journey towards doing what I love.
Aside from the long hours, blood, sweat and tears that go into growing a business, what makes any studio great is the fellow entrepreneurs that you get to work with; whether that's through design projects, like-minded brand collaborations or your stockists, each one of mine inspiring me through their bold, female leadership. Sini, from Australian-based children's boutique TILA Interiors, is one such woman. If I could describe Sini's personality in a few words, it would be a kind warmth that instantly makes you want to be her BFF, a trait which shines through into her passion for interior design, her family life and her awesome business.
She is the embodiment of the empowered woman in the 21st century - the ones who are moms, business owners, creatives and empaths, getting out there every day and proving women can do it all. I caught up with her a few days ago to find out more about her journey, her values and to share her story.
For those who haven't met you yet, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and where you are from?
"My name is Sini Louhela and I'm 28 years old. I was born in Finland, but I have lived in Australia for the past 9 years. My father was working here at the time and I came to see him. Long story short, I met my partner Tim and never went back! My family includes our two gorgeous children - Alaska Mila, who is three and a half years old, Penny Alpine who is two years old and my partner Tim. We live in Bright, a town located in North-East Victoria, at the base of the Australian Alpine National Park and ski fields. Bright is a stunning little tourist town that is also known for wineries and it's beautiful fall foliage."
Your hometown sounds amazing! What passions do you have that go alongside this beautiful lifestyle?
"My main passions are interiors, especially kid's interiors, architecture, homewares and gardening."
You have a stunning home, can you describe it for those who haven’t seen it.
"Oh thanks lovely! We've lived in our new home for 12 months now. We have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a large open living and dining area with a high cathedral ceiling. We also have a wood fireplace, butler's pantry, kid's playroom, mudroom and a huge deck upstairs with a stunning mountain view. Downstairs we actually have a self-contained unit that is joined to our house via the laundry room. This unit has two bedrooms, an open living and dining area, basic kitchenette, bathroom and separate garage. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we have a skate ramp under our house (my partner is a skateboarder)! The exterior of our house is black and white. We used colorbond cladding in the shade Monument, with white paneling. Our house is in a high risk bushfire area, so external materials were limited to fit the bushfire requirements. Our town was lucky enough to survive mostly untouched by the horrific bushfires this year, but we did have to evacuate and leave our home for 10 days.
I also love Scandinavian design, probably because of my Finnish background, so we drew a lot of inspiration from it! We also wanted the house to suit the Alpine area, so we added a touch of 'modern chalet' vibes with the cathedral ceiling pitched roofline."
It sounds like you have put a lot of consideration into this build, from its form, to function, to safety. What is it about Scandinavian design that inspires you so much?
"Simplicity and functionality goes a long way! But I'm not 100% tied to the Scandi style. I absolutely love modern, contemporary and boho-interior vibes as well. I like to mix these together and I feel like it's a nice combination of warmth and sleek lines. I love white, black and grey, but I have added bit of colour with terracotta and muted pinks in the soft furnishings. My poor hubby is outnumbered with the females in this house! Oh and timber. In my opinion you can never have too much timber!!"
I totally agree, if I could live in a mazot I would! If you could describe your style in a few words, what would it be?
"My interior design style, hmmm. "Scandi gone Down Under", no jokes!
Cool & comfortable."
Aside from the materials and aesthetics, what was important to you when designing a functional family space?
"The most important thing was storage. With children, you can never have too much storage! But also space, this was another major thing for us. With multiple children running around, you neeeeed to have space inside and out! If you can afford to of course. Functionality is another big one. Make sure everything “flows” and go through the layout 100+ times. Think about how you live in your home.
Plus my absolute favourite: natural light. You can never have enough of it! Windows, windows and more windows!"
Natural light is everything! Ok, I want to change direction a bit. A big part of Lagom Design Studio's ethos is helping to create spaces that promote wellbeing and self-care. Do you have a go-to self-care routine?
"I have started to focus a bit more on my skincare routine, since I’m creeping towards the end of my 20s. I try to make it a daily 'me-moment' in the morning and at night, if I can! We live a very busy lifestyle and my hubby works over an hour away, so a moment to myself is rare! I love a walk in the bush when I can and I like to listen to a guided meditation before I go to bed."
I'm in love with these photos of you, Alaska and Penny. If there was one piece of wisdom you could impart to your daughters, what would that be?
"Be yourself. I’m not a big fan of Taylor Swift, but in her words “you’re the only one of you and baby that’s the fun of you”. So I encourage them to be themselves and be KIND. Kindness is magic and we gotta sprinkle that shit everywhere!"
Ah! So beautiful! Ok, so on to what connected us, TILA Interiors! Alongside being an awesome mum, you also run this incredible business. Tell me a bit about the brand and why you started it.
"I started TILA after my second daughter Penny was born. Obviously in the thick of it with two kids, I wanted to do something for myself. I struggled to find aesthetically pleasing kids items, so I began painting wall hangings and sewing linen play mats. I started with an Etsy store and an Instagram page for TILA. I was a complete rookie when it came to e-commerce and marketing, but I slowly grew my little business.
It wasn't until we moved to Bright that I found the right market for a well-curated baby & kid's store. From there I started building my online store, hoping that one day my own shop space would pop up! I’m yet to find my perfect spot, but until then I will keep my focus on my online biz, building the most perfect boutique for babies, kids, mamas & home, with a focus on simple designs and thoughtful living. In the past six months my business has taken a huge step up and I’m sooo excited to see where this journey with TILA takes us!"
That's inspiring! Do you have any big business goals that you are trying to achieve during the next few years?
"I guess my main goal for the next few years is to have my own physical store and absolutely kill it! Maybe add some more of my own TILA-branded products. I might have a few new things coming soon, stay tuned!"
Fantastic! Ok last question! For all of those women out there who are thinking about a side hustle or jumping into a full-time passion, but are maybe hesitant or unsure, what advice would you give them?
"My piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business is to JUST DO IT. Thanks Nike for the epic line! Trust yourself and your dream / business 100% and you will make it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."
For those looking for a gathered collection of pieces that inspire a simple yet thoughtful life, encouraging individuality for the little people in our lives, check out Sini's amazing business: