Like many who enter the Window Furnishings Industry, Tiffany Schultz and Linda Roman Kalnins “stumbled on in” after careers in other sectors. The pair met while working in the industry and the concept of Colour Stick was born – a fusion of traditional European curtain hardware with a contemporary Australian twist.
Linda tells WFA she came up with the concept for Colour Stick whilst on a sales trip sitting in a Sydney Hotel Room. After originally starting a career in fashion, she moved to homewares and eventually opened a store in Sydney’s Double Bay.
“I was totally immersed in the European brands that I sold when I was lucky to be poached by the owner of Space Furniture to help set up the accessories department in their new flagship store in Alexandria,” Linda says.
“I went on to work for Space in Melbourne and Brisbane before starting at another luxury furniture retailer, Dedece, as accessories manager. Being surrounded by the best of contemporary European design and interacting with many of Sydney’s best interior designers was a delight.”
“But I sort of stumbled into the window furnishings industry by accident. I had sold up in Sydney and moved to Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast.”
“After taking one year or so to renovate our new house in Batemans Bay, I went in search of a job and the first one I came across was as a sales rep for Forest Drapery Hardware.”
Tiffany gained entry to the industry after moving to the south coast of NSW in 2010 from Melbourne and getting a job with a window furnishing retail outlet. Three years later she was offered a management position in manufacturing curtain hardware. In Victoria she had been working as a legal editor and as a personal trainer and fitness instructor.
“Then in the late ‘90s, my husband and I started buying, renovating and selling homes on the Mornington Peninsula, which ignited an underlying lifetime passion for home design and styling, dating back to when I was a small child, forever drawing house designs for fun.”
“At this time I also began creating and selling original contemporary art works on the Mornington Peninsula, which was certainly a highlight.”
“The lovely Linda and I met whilst working together and agreed there was this gap in the market for high quality, custom-made rods, a delicious fusion of tradition and colour.”
Both Linda and Tiffany say that they love the industry and the opportunities it brings.
“Colour Stick allows me to still have contact with the design industry that I love! It also enables me to live and operate the business from a small beachside location. It has pushed me outside my comfort zone to move into production rather than just sales,” Linda says.
“My greatest achievement in the industry is starting Colour Stick from scratch in an industry that I had very little experience in. It makes my heart sing every time I’m complimented on the products we are producing, particularly from recognised leaders in the industry.”
Tiffany concurs about the joy generated from such a creative profession.
“I love the enthusiasm, care and creativity of the people that work in our field, creating something beautiful for someone’s sanctuary is an honour and privilege. A lot of time, care and muscle go into the creation of our beautiful rods.”
The company isn’t seeking world domination, but Linda says they will never seek to rest on their laurels.
“Colour Stick provides a bespoke product to a niche market. Unlike most businesses, we are not actively looking to expand our range, but rather, work on improving and perfecting our product.”
Tiffany says of coming up with new products and ideas for the business, “Of course I love keeping an eye on certain designers for inspiration but rather try not to follow trends and create.”
“All facets of the business are shared,” Linda says.
“My background has always been sales and my strengths are styling and merchandising, but after our first year it became clear that outsourcing the preparation and painting of the product was not achieving a high enough standard, and we would have to come up with a solution.”
“The answer was to learn from our professional painters how to prepare and apply the paint and now I do most of the fabrication, which I love.”
Tiffany adds, “One of my strengths and major contribution has been the technical side of the business.”
While the focus of the two business partners is improving quality of an already very high standard, they do have expansion plans.
“In five years’ time I hope that I’m still off to the workshop each day preparing and painting Colour Stick orders, albeit in a larger premises,” Linda says.
“I hope that I still have a rescue greyhound lying beside me at my desk and that I continue to walk him on the beach each morning and afternoon.”
“I’m sure Linda and I will continue to be inspired by our clients’ vision and bringing it to life,” Tiffany adds. “We have been concentrating on perfecting the manufacturing process to date, but we have a couple of ideas for expansion that we will explore in the near future.”