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Meet P0ly, the Melbourne interiors label launched during a pandemic

IMAGES BY RUBY KANNAVA FOR BLAZED WAX
WORDS BY HELENA BAMMANT

The new kids on the block.

“It’s kind of a nice little story to come out of such uncertain and heartbreaking times. If anyone is thinking about starting something now is the time,” Lara Fisher tells me. 

After losing her job earlier this year, the recent co-founder of Melbourne interiors label, P0ly Designs found a silver lining – an opportunity to design and create alongside her horticulturist boyfriend, Andy Kepitis. But what began simply as a way to keep busy soon flourished into a thriving business (plant puns intended).

Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to spruce up their home, the duo tapped into the increased demand for interiors at precisely the right time. Born out of their distinctively Northcote home, P0ly is transforming rooms around Melbourne into fun and practical spaces, using tiles to create everything from plinths, cubes and tables.

I spoke to Lara about P0ly, what it’s like working with your boyfriend and how she turned a pretty devastating event into a life-changing career move. 

Introducing Lara and Andy

After studying a fashion degree and getting a masters in communication, Lara spent the last 10 years working in the fashion industry. At the start of this year, she finally landed her dream job at a creative agency in Melbourne. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the pandemic, Lara was let go and left jobless.

Like many of us who have lost work during this time, she jumped online to hunt for a new job, blissfully unaware of how long COVID-19 would last. “The first month I spent on LinkedIn, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I thought it would be a two to three-week thing.”

Feeling lost and unsure of what to do with all her newfound free time, Lara decided to create things as a way to keep busy. “I initially wanted to try to make something as a way to distract myself from everything that was going on, and to remain creative. It felt good to make something.”

As most of this year has been spent in lockdown or working from home, people are increasingly focused on making their spaces more liveable and enjoyable to be in. With this in mind, I tell Lara that 2020 is potentially the best possible time to launch an interiors brand.

She agrees, but explains that P0ly didn’t come from a deliberate choice to build a business, but from a personal desire to transform her home environment. “I have always liked interiors but this year, we are all enjoying our home spaces a lot more, and doing anything we can to make them more fun… My boyfriend Andy is a horticulturist, so we are always looking for things to put plants on,” she explains.

Their house is also home to a carpenter and a photographer, who both helped in the making of the brand’s first item, an item that was met with an overwhelmingly positive response online. “We all collectively made the first piece and put it up online, and people went nuts for it – it all snowballed from there,” she says.

Working alongside your partner could either be a dream or a nightmare – especially when both people have strong creative ideas – but for Lara and Andy, working together has been a collaborative success. “We are both definitely lovers of art, colour and plants, so we had the same idea of what we like in terms of design and direction, but as people, we are very different,” says Lara.  

Andy is a classic Virgo, Lara tells me. “He is pedantic, super logical and sees all the straight lines which make him an amazing tiler.” She describes herself as a lazy perfectionist – she’s more the big picture type. “I can see the end result, but when it comes to lining up the tiles I’m just too impatient,” she laughs.

 

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Side cubes in blue/white + beige/white for the perfect modular coffee table 💓

A post shared by P0LY (@p0ly_designs) on

What is P0ly?

Inspired by Melbourne florist Hattie Molloy’s tiled studio desk, P0ly uses high-quality tiles and a particular type of poly wood to create tables, plinths, cubes and consoles for interior spaces.

All pieces are lightweight and structurally sound, plus they can be used as a seat or drink stand – a must-have addition for all your post-iso parties. Each item can be ordered via direct message on the P0ly Instagram and can be designed in your choice of tiles and grout.

Made in the backyard of their Northcote home (Melbourne-weather dependent), Andy and Lara can create a variety of different shapes and sizes, which has seen P0ly pop up in all areas of the design world. “We have had artists use them as plinths for artwork and ceramics and florists use them as displays,” she says.

Working with tiles was also a deliberate choice for the pair and a no brainer for all-round practicality. “Tiles are a great surface, especially for plants because they can be wiped down” Lara explains. But the biggest challenge for the pair so far has been receiving shipments on time.

“We source our tiles from speciality suppliers in Japan and Italy, but have been waiting over 12 weeks for the delivery – I’m glad I have no concept of time,” she laughs. Sitting somewhere in the pacific, the delayed shipment is home to a range of tantalising new colours, including blood orange and lime green.

You may have seen P0ly featured on the Instagram feeds of model and beekeeper Georgah Crane and Dypsnea Creative Director Jameen Zalfen. Jameen is also a close friend of Lara’s and was one of the first people to buy a piece. After she shared a photo on her personal Instagram, P0ly began to gain traction in Victoria.  

 

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The side cube – very good for sitting on.

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Impressively, the brand’s success is all down to organic growth. Without any hashtags or advertising, most items have been purchased by Lara and Andy’s friends, or through word-of-mouth.

Working to their advantage during stage four lockdown, the pair have sold most items to people living within the 5km radius, but as couriers are still running, anyone outside this radius can place an order. Better yet, the pieces are all made to order, which means minimal waste and no excess stock sitting around gathering dust.

 What’s next for P0ly?

The year 2020 has brought with it a whole suite of disappointment and thwarted dreams, but Lara has found a way to harness that disappointment into something great. “I never thought this year I would be picking up trade and running a furniture company, it’s been a complete surprise,” she says.

Being stuck at home has inspired many of us to upskill and make more time for creative pursuits, and for Lara, this is precisely the case. “I’m putting to practice all the skills I’ve learnt over the last 10 years in terms of marketing, design and production,” she explains.

The future for P0ly is also looking promising as the duo continue to push the business forward. Along with new shapes and designs, they had big plans (before the second lockdown) to move P0ly into a studio/warehouse space. This is still something they plan on doing if the brand continues growing as fast as it is.

It’s clear that Andy is a very talented business partner, and Lara confides that he’s the reason they kept going. “When I first started, I kept saying to myself I’m not good enough, but Andy reminded me that no one is good at something when they first start – you just have to keep going and practise.”

“You try something and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but if we hadn’t tried, we wouldn’t have this beautiful little brand.”

Have a browse of the designs and order your own P0ly via DM here.

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