In conversation with Emma Read & Sarah Hall

"Creativity means personal expression, getting what is inside, out."
~ Emma Read & Sarah Hall

 

Interior stylists & sisters Emma Read & Sarah Hall join us for a conversation about their journey into styling, their newest project Love & Mutiny and the feeling they want to create in their own homes.

Tell us a little bit about you & what roads led to where you are now.

We are two sisters born two years apart and once we each had our kids found ourselves living close by to each other for the first time. We were both working part time in our previous careers and then hung out together the rest of the time with our small children. We were always pottering about with our homes, going to op shops and styling and restyling our houses together.

We went overseas together for Em's 40th (without our families!) and spent our time waltzing about Europe hitting all the flea markets in Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm staying at airbnbs and talking about what kind of business we could run together, having really no idea what we could sell or make or anything. We also started our instagram account @readandhall whilst in Europe only so we could share photos home. We had already bought our shack together at this time (2018) and used it in school holidays with our families, it wasn't even on our radar to combine these two ideas!

Your gorgeous property My Sister & The Sea has been featured in Design Files and Country Style, was that the first project you created together & what did you learn from that experience?

Yes it was our first 'project' together and we were very scared and felt like we didn't know what we were doing. We found Sarah Andrews' Hosting Masterclass advertised on Instagram and thought that it would be really fun! We'd grown up reading interior magazines and loved that the course was not just about business as so many business courses are, but about creatively and styling and finding your own authentic aesthetic. We loved our two days in Daylesford and came away completely ready to change our lives and started working on our ideas on the drive back to Adelaide. Making My Sister & The Sea was like a training ground for everything we do now.

We learned to trust our aesthetic instinct, that something we offered would have some value, we learned how to run a business, find and manage staff, marketing, advertising, how to tell our story, use social media effectively, work with influencers, photography, every single thing was part of a learning process. 

What does creativity mean to you both?

Personal expression, getting what is inside, out.

In my research, I learned that Sarah you were a solicitor and Emma, you a social worker. I’m curious, what does your work as creatives give you that your previous careers couldn’t?
 
Our work as creatives give us everything that our previous careers couldn't! We get more satisfaction and joy making spaces function and be beautiful than counselling people and drafting reports and we had to own this and accept it about ourselves. 

When you're in the midst of a project what part of the whole process energises you the most?

The idea at the start and then we have to plan (kind of) and execute, which always takes longer than we think. We have to stay true to our original ideas and plans and not be swayed by trends, we have to stay the course and keep a sense of levity about the whole thing, not to take it too seriously, be light and playful.

What do you think has contributed to your styling sensibility?

Our upbringing, definitely, our mum was always playing with paint colours, changing up the furniture constantly and not being afraid to try things. We moved house every few years and it was always exciting.

Your newest project Love & Mutiny is so incredibly original, how did you dream up this jewel & could you share some of what the creative process looked like?

Thank you! We wanted to create a different kind of beach house, we actually just started fantasising about visiting a beach shack that didn't have an oar, coastal decor and a neutral palette. We love all of those things but we wanted to try something different. It was purely for creative play. We imagined who would live in it, some bohemian woman who smoked cigars, read tarot cards and drank absinthe and went from there.  

What’s the feeling you like to evoke in your own homes?

Warmth, cosiness, the unexpected.

Being self-proclaimed introverts, how has Instagram helped you connect with other creatives?

It has helped us in every way and was surprisingly enjoyable, easy, but we never put any pressure on ourselves to post etc . We only show up when we are feeling like it because then it's authentic. People can sense when it's not. We have made so many friends from it, have visited places because of it, given amazing opportunities because of it and whilst you can say many negative things about it, it is still one of the main ways creatives connect. 

What’s your intention at this moment in your life?

We are just gliding along and seeing what comes next. We hired the best person in the world, Lisa McKernan (@bylisamckernan) to manage our bookings, and become our virtual assistant which was the best decision we ever made to enable us to free space and time for creativity, so don't be afraid to step into that.

We are at this time happily running both of our properties, having our houses featured in a few publications, experimenting with making merchandise for our properties, sourcing vintage wares for @readandhalltraders and dreaming of what's next.

 

Photo credits: Header, first & second & fourth images by Marnie Hawson and third image by Hannah Puechmarin.