In Style: Tamara Watts, Retro Print Revival

Perhaps when your surname is Watts you are destined to end up working in lighting. And when your name is Tamara Watts and you have a background in visual merchandising and interior decoration, you’re not going to make any ordinary type of lighting – you’re going to create unique, exclusive, one of a kind lamps and lampshades made with rare fabrics ranging from 1960’s floral and paisley patterns, to bold 1970’s geometrics. Such brilliance!

Tamara’s brand Retro Print Revival will be on display at Life Instyle in Melbourne this August. Just look for the best lit stand at the show!

Tell us about your Retro Print Revival…
Retro Print Revival make unique, vintage homewares. We source rare, high quality original and retro inspired fabrics and lamp bases to create dynamic rocket lamps, stunning table lamps, cute nursery lamps, doorstops and eye-catching ceiling shades.

We pride ourselves on 100% hand crafting our lamps in Melbourne. Using reclaimed fabrics and lamp bases, we offer our customers something different from the ‘run of the mill ‘lamps, and custom make creations according to our clients colour and style preference. We support local businesses and craftsman to help produce our lamps, in an ethical and sustainable way. We strive to make each of our lamps distinctive, and a beautiful piece of functional art work.

What path bought you to Life Instyle?
I have been running Retro Print Revival for almost 4 years now, and it’s ready to take the next step! I have recently produced a line of rocket lamps, that have been getting some exciting press and fantastic response from our customers, so what better way to expose them than Life Instyle! We currently wholesale to 15 retailers nationwide, and are looking at growing this number to stockists that understand and appreciate our unique products.

A typical day at work involves…
First thing’s first, I make a cup of tea and write out my ‘to do list’ for the day. My morning‘s are usually at my desk replying to emails, making phone calls, book keeping, social media, or updating my online store and website. Then the rest of the day can vary. I do travel around a lot, picking up lampshades, lamp bases, fabric hunting, collecting my re-wired lamps and posting lamps. For custom order jobs, I make appointments with customers to come to the studio from the late morning onwards, then the later part of the day I’m making new creations, and then back to the computer again in the evening!

My style is best described as….
Retro. I live and breath vibrant colours, bold patterns, and 70’s design. I love the simplicity of mid-century Scandinavian furniture and designs, and have my house full of retro artworks, furniture, textiles and bits of bobs from this era. I’m not big on wearing black, so my love of bright colours carries through my wardrobe, my home, then into my work. I’m never too scared to mix patterns and colours together, to see what beautiful combinations I can get!

I live my Life Instyle by…
Being creative with colours and patterns. A lot of time goes into the matching of a fabric to a lamp base. This would be my most time consuming challenge! I carefully consider the colour and design aesthetic of both the fabric and lamp base, to ensure they create the perfect match.

Favourite piece of advice…
Is to give it a go! I know this sounds cliche, but you will never know if you will suceed, if you don’t try. Don’t get too comfortable, continually strive, and push yourself into directions that may seem daunting, but you will always get through the otherside with the great feeling of accomplishment.

If I wasn’t doing this…
I’d probably be working in a similar field to what I was doing before I started the business. I was a qualified Visual Merchandiser and worked in this field for several years, for a leading Australian brand. I have always had an interest in styling, prop sourcing and set design, so I’d imagine I would be living my second dream of working in one of those roles.

Brands I admire include…
I have developed a fixation for Sollis, a Sydney based jewellery designer that hand-crafts macrame style pieces. I admire the intricate designs, the mixture in texture, and the clashing colours used to hand knot each piece of jewellery. I have a few of their pieces, but if I could, I’d have every single one of them. I can’t wait to see their new range that is being developed as we speak!

My workspace is…
My studio and separate office. I also use my studio as a showroom for my clients, where I do custom order jobs. They make appointments where they can mix and match fabric/lamp bases until their heart desires. My studio isn’t all that big, so I’ve put my Visual Merchandising skills to good use, and I have created a working space that is well organised, and has become my most favourite place to spend my days.

I get my best business ideas by….
Talking with other business owners or friends, throwing around ideas of ways to further my business. Going from working in a team of 30, to being a sole trader, has been a dramatic change, and I miss bouncing ideas around. That’s why the markets are a business haven to do just that! It’s a fantastic support network for us all, where we can get advise, inspiration and encouragement from one another.

The biggest influence in my business life is…
What fabrics and lamp bases I can find to make my lamps. My business is dependant on what I can source, so I’m now incrediabily lucky to have some great scouts and connections, that somehow, somewhere, keep finding wonderful lamp bases and farbics for me.

My dream business mentor would be…
A friend of mine who works for Etsy Australia. She has her finger on the pulse, and so much business knowledge.

Right now I’m working on….
New designs for my recently released rocket lamps. I love the organic shape of the small table rocket lamps, and I’m looking at designing a similar curvey feel for the floor rocket lamps.

My biggest goal for the next 12 months….
Is to rent a larger studio, and have some employees to help share the ever increasing workload!

In five years time….
I’ll still have the same values as a small business, and continue to make high quality, beautiful lamps that offer my customers something different from main stream, mass produced products.

Green with Envy for…
Food: Soft cheeses, chocolate and eggs.
Drink: A pot of Earl Grey tea.
Book: 1000 Lights, a book given to me at Christmas which has a detailed catalogue of photo’s and information on every lamp design throughout the ages.
Blog: Spell and the Gypsy Collective have a great blog. A Byron Bay based jewellery and fashion business who blog their own beautiful product photoshoots, and other inspirational photos too. Their photos are calming and magical. A Beautiful Mess blog, which I was only introduced to today, and can already see myself becoming an addict. Also, the Design Files are always a good one to get total interior envy.
Art: Man Ray, photographer.
Style Icon: Edie Sedgwick, Gorman, Rathjen/Bitossi and West German lamps, Charles Eames.
Holiday destination: Anywhere warm, where I can swim in the ocean all day.

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