More About Us
Want to know more about Sarah, Maeike and Eccentric Republic, well read on:
Maeike and Sarah met in the summer of 1986, as Year 8 students at Albany Creek High School, a northern suburb of Brisbane. After high school, Sarah remained in Brisbane and studied a Bachelor of Science, while Maeike moved to Wagga Wagga in NSW to study Television Production.
They met up again in Sydney in 1994 and a couple of years after this their creative collaboration began.
The creativity though, started much, much earlier.
At a very early age it was clear that Sarah would be an artist. She has turned her hand to any medium that was presented to her, including, but not limited to painting, sculpture, mosaic, cartooning and even beading. She taught art to Korean students for a spell, worked as a ceramic painter and even ran workshops in jewellery making and bead weaving. She has managed to incorporate a level of creativity into every aspect of her life, even when she has had to work in the banal corporate world.
Maeike was heavily involved in theatre at high school and got into film making before and during university. She been a photographer for more than 20 years and worked for a period, as an intern at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Her retail background is extensive, which has given her a solid background for running her own business with Sarah.
The first incarnation of this was Resinate. Ironically, this had nothing to do with resin, which is one of their current mediums of choice. Resinate took Sarah’s art and Maeike’s photographs, and showcased them on products such as silver pendants, coin purses, tealight candles and much more. They sold these at the iconic Paddington Markets on Sydney’s Oxford Street.
In September 2003, they took a trip to New Zealand for their 30th birthdays and falling in love with the wondrous beauty, it was there they decided to make the adventurous leap to return indefinitely, 3 years later.
The plan was to fly into Auckland, buy a car and drive to Wellington and look for a job. They never made it to Wellington. They stopped in to a small wine village, called Martinborough, north of Wellington for a coffee and noticed a shop for rent across the road. Feeling bold and brave, and sick of working for “the man”, they decided to open a shop, because “how hard can it be?”
Resinate, had now become a full-time labour of love. For the next 2 and a half years, they ran a successful shop, stocked almost entirely with product made by themselves.
“We tried to sell the stock we had left over from Sydney, but the market was really different. We had to adapt at lightning speed and change everything. Also, we had really minimal funds, so we had to be really crafty with how we did things, including making all our shop furniture ourselves.”
They learnt new skills, on the fly such as felting, sewing, fabric printing and this was when Sarah taught Maeike jewellery making for the first time.
Also, during their time there they were awarded the honour of finalist (for the second time) in the “Bizarre Bra” section of the Auckland WOW - World of Wearable Art Competition, with their hand felted heart and lungs bra. They had previously been finalists, while in Sydney with their fortune cookie bra.
Martinborough was a weekend and summer destination town, so winter was cold and customers were scarce. While they wholesaled their product to several stores around New Zealand, when the GFC hit, they made the heartbreaking, but wise decision to return to Australia.
Instead of moving back to Sydney, they instead went to their old stomping ground of Brisbane.
“Moving back, took a lot out of us, mentally and financially. Not to mention, we literally sold almost all our possessions. We had to start again from zero.”
It took several years, working in regular “day” jobs, before they had the means and the mental strength to try again, but as most creative people would understand, it is an unstoppable calling.
During this time, as they had no furniture, they renovated and re-cycled furniture purchased from op-shops and collected from Kerbside Collection, which gave them the experience for their next business venture.
“We really felt like we left “Resinate” behind in New Zealand, so we decided it was time for a name change. Although it was not only the business name that changed, the products changed too.”
Dead Horse Lane
The name “Dead Horse Lane” comes from an actual lane in a small Queensland town called Doolandella, and the rustic, country vibe suited the new business to a T. Selling out of the Paddington Antique Centre, they re-purposed and re-cycled furniture and homewares, in their unique and colourful style.
“At times we had trouble filling the space, as the pieces took so long to make, and when they sold, we couldn’t keep up.”
It was getting harder and harder to find interesting pieces to renovate, while they loved the concept of the business, it was not practical in the long term.
“We had to come up with something that satisfied our creative side, but was easier to produce on a large scale.”
Many people use the term “eccentric” in a negative way, however Sarah and Maeike have embraced the term proudly.
“We have always been multi-faceted, liking and doing many different things simultaneously. Today, I’m a daisy. Tomorrow, who knows.”
For this reason, they chose Eccentric Republic as there new business name, and they decided to launch an online store in mid 2018.
Over the past few years, Sarah had gained a huge amount of IT and graphic art experience at her day job and these new skills have taken them into a more digital direction. Maeike creates all the scarf designs, using photographs she has taken and digitally manipulates them into amazing kaleidoscopes of colour. They have the scarves printed and made in Australia, as they are both passionate about “slow fashion” instead of disposable fashion, and prefer to support local, ethical business, rather than overseas sweat factories.
Sarah designs and makes all the resin scarf rings and jewellery. The process has taken months to perfect, from creating the shapes, to casting the molds and refining the resin look. The resin takes days to cast, as it consists of several layers, some of which are hand painted.
“Our designs are inspired by nature and by urban decay. There is so much beauty around us, from the landscape, to the city, down to the smallest flower or stone.”
While Eccentric Republic is currently and online store, they are hoping to begin taking it to the people in 2019 and doing some designer markets and hopefully The Finders Keepers. Also there is planning for future products, such as cushions, homewares and even nail decals.
“We hope to really make Eccentric Republic a well-known brand. It would be great to connect with the community of creativity in this country and maybe collaborate with another designer or business.”
So, any last words of wisdom, for the readers?
“Business and the world is ever changing and the best character trait you can have is adaptability. You need to have the flexibility to constantly evolve. It is a never ending journey, but wow what a ride”.