Wednesday, 29 April 2015

profile pop & rocket


Leanne Costantino of Pop & Rocket
Leanne Costantino signs off her emails, 'blasting off....' and it's very fitting as she's full of creative energy and exceptionally driven. A graphic designer by trade, like many parents Leanne had to rethink how she worked, once her family expanded to include three little people and the result was Pop & Rocket. Despite a few set backs, Leanne stuck to pursuing her dream to build a creative business based around her eye-catching designs and great products and it's rocketing ahead. When I first saw her hand-made plywood timber garden swings, featuring geometric prints, I wanted one IMMEDIATELY. I just love them! Leanne's determination to build a business around her expertise and lifestyle is incredibly inspiring and is testament that with a creative vision and a lot of hard work it's possible to realise your dreams. Checkout Leanne's myriad designs and swing colourways here.

How would you describe yourself ?
Creative, dreamer, worker, maker, mother,

What was your childhood dream?
Rockstar!  But I had a back up plan if that didn’t work out. Hair dressing was my fall back plan (what kid dreams of cutting hair?!).

What led you down your current path?
Necessity. After running a small graphic design studio for nearly 10 years, I had 3 children in 2 and a half years (yes there were twins involved) and I couldn’t give my clients the kind of response times they needed so I had to think of a new way to work creatively, use my design skills and create flexible hours - I just couldn’t commit to the traditional 9am-5pm work day.

What do you love most about what you do?
Freedom! I can design and make any new product I want and I don’t have a client to answer to. This is seriously the best thing in the world. I’ll be eating breakfast scribbling ideas in a note pad and by the end of the day I can have a sample made. Some ideas work and some don’t but I don’t have to debate the idea around the boardroom table with a bunch of people to get the go-ahead. It feels a bit like I’m back in the high school art room, if I want to try something new I just do it.

What inspires you?
Other great local makers and designers. People who can get things made in a sustainable and ethical way. It has been tempting to source production overseas but I’m holding out for now.

Who do you admire?
I really like the crew at Jimmy Possum. They’ve made a real success of their business but they still operate out of Bendigo in regional Victoria. I just find them really interesting and I hope one day my family might run a similar operation at Pop & Rocket. Still making things in Preston Victoria and still using sustainable materials.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
A failed business partnership. Pop & Rocket originally had two founders but the first couple of years were tough, we put in a lot of hard work and a lot of our own money for no returns. My partner gave up and left within 2 years, which made me question everything. If she had no faith that this was going to work then maybe it was time to. We started planning to shut the whole thing down but  I took a couple of days to think it through then realised I wasn’t prepared to give up. I had a gut feeling it would work eventually it just needed a few tweaks and I needed to be truer to myself and believe in my own ideas. We were so different in our styles so maybe it was just the wrong combination of people. Luckily I was right, things turned around within a few weeks of my partner leaving the business and I’m so glad I kept at it.

What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
An e-mail from the U.S asking if I would like to sell my swings in rather large quantities to their online store. This exposure will be enormous – they have a database of 12million people.  

What are your top inspiring resources ?
I read the Design Files occasionally, but otherwise I don’t read too much on line, Instagram is great, I just love a quick visual medium. I love music – it revs me up for work every day - at the moment I’m loving Major Lazer and Courtney Barnett

I love getting outside with the kids on a sunny day. Watching their creative role-play is fantastic. They just operate without any boundaries so their ideas and brilliant and that inspires me every day to believe in my own crazy ideas.

Do you have a dream creative project?
Yes!!! I want to build a creative space based on that high school art room idea I mentioned earlier. I want to make a space where designers, artists, anyone, can come in and make something, be it with clay, ink, paper, whatever! A room filled with resources that acts as a meeting place to share ideas and meet likeminded people and most importantly share our knowledge base. I find it really challenging working alone from home.

What are you currently coveting in the world of design?
Hmmm, too many things to pick just one. Maybe if I had to pick one it would be a painting by Fred Fowler. I’m also constantly on the hunt for bed linen – I still haven’t found the perfect design for me. 

What's next?
Machine knitting.  I just joined the Machine Knitters Association of Victoria after scoring a vintage Singer knitting machine at a trash and treasure sale for $10. I met ladies whose names were Pearl and Shirley and they have cups of tea and talk all things machine knitting. It’s so good for the soul.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Read – Currently – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
Watch- Not much time for telly here. If I could watch a movie I’d choose a gorgeous foreign arthouse film or a cheesy comedy. 
Cook- Vietnamese bun or Gyoza dumplings.
Create- New product ideas.
Listen to-Triple J.
Dream about- A holiday to somewhere warm and sunny.
Look forward to- Hmm, a working bathroom – we are mid renovation.