Duo's passion becomes thriving business

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2013

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A former Southland duo's taste for unique and exotic homewares and designs is proving infectious, travelling across the country and even ending up on The Block NZ.

Since their start in March, Dunedin-based sisters Ella Murdoch and Talia O'Connor have been blitzing the online homeware and interior style market.

They are selling them through their new online business Mint Six - so named because all their homeware products and services are "mint" and because they have six kids between them.

The commerce-savvy sisters are also conquering a corner of cyber space - their Mint Six blog and email interior styling service is a hit with house-proud home owners representing many demographics across the country.

Among those is boundary-pushing The Block NZ contestants Alice and Caleb Pearson who caught the Mint Six bug as the final episodes of the TV3 house renovation reality show were being shot.

Alice said she and Caleb constantly followed Mint Six online.

"We love the Mint Six website and their unique boutique style."

Murdoch said Mint Six got a frantic 11th-hour call from Alice begging for a framed pop-silk piece she had spotted on the company's website - to be "sent up now"!

"We got this call asking 'can you get that up to us by tomorrow morning? We need to be finished by 9am'." Murdoch said.

"Alice said the art work was perfect for the room she was working on."

The pressure was on as the rooms were being judged the next morning.

But with the help of partners, such as a courier firm, brought together by Mint Six to form an online community of businesses that complement each other, the art work got through. For the Mint Six team the experience was thrilling.

"It was thrilling that they just asked us. Just how far our reach has gone in such a short time.

"It was such a great opportunity," Murdoch said.

The large framed pop-silk, branded the Mint-Six silk, was today's representation of the ancient Chinese silk trade, Murdoch and O'Connor said.

The pop silk was among items that were special and unique.

"It ticked all the boxes in terms of what we're all about in our aesthetic which is bold colour, quality, something that really is quite different and no-one has seen before.

"It really makes a statement in any room."

The Block NZ connection cemented the sisters' decisions to return to New Zealand.

Each, with husbands and families, decided quite separately to come back, arriving within weeks of each other last year. Both had been overseas for years, after being raised in Invercargill and then Dunedin.

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Murdoch and her family had lived in China for three years, where she was an international teacher, while O'Connor and family were in Melbourne for 14 years.

After moving back to New Zealand the pair decided to honour an old agreement.

"[We said] if ever our lives collided again back in New Zealand, we would start up something like this," Murdoch said.

She and her sister had had a joint passion for homewares since they were youngsters.

The business was sourcing exotic quality decorative items and had eight product categories including ceramics, ethnic carpets, leather Ottomans, and other unique pieces from places such as Morocco, Turkey, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Her sister was the creative one, and had a "real eye for style", Murdoch said.

Murdoch handled administration and finance and her skill with languages such as Mandarin was also handy.

The pair shared buying and importing matters.

"We had high hopes when we started but you never know how things are going to be received. But it looks like our time to shine," Murdoch said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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