There are those people you are yet to meet in person but are somehow drawn to, through a feeling of familiarity. One of those people for me is Victorian based Kirsty Davey, owner of online store, Otis & Otto. Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of watching Kirsty’s beautifully curated store of hand made objects flourish. I am drawn like a moth to the flame to those who support artists from around the globe. Kirsty’s down to earth sensibility is what sets her and her gorgeous store apart from the crowd.
I recently (via email) sat down with Kirsty to ask her a few questions about her passions. We covered the delightful topics of travel and food, as well as her desire to support the authentic and hand made. Her pursuit of honesty in the everyday object has become a feature in her own home and in the way she conducts her daily life.
Can you share a bit about your background and how you came to be where you are today?
I grew up in Melbourne & spent most of my childhood outdoors...camping, fishing & collecting things. After finishing school in 2001, I pursued Media Studies at University, dabbling in photography & styling but over time my focus shifted from study to traveling. In 2009, I relocated to the small coastal community of Jan Juc (one hour south-west of Melbourne) & landed a job working at Quiksilver (HQ) in a global liaison / editing role where I tottered around corporate-surf-chaos until the arrival of our daughter Mali Stone in 2011.
Was Otis & Otto, as a concept, something that you always planned on doing or did it come about more organically?
Without any initial plans to build a 'brand' or 'business' I launched (the blog) Otis & Otto. The blog began as an impromptu pin-board, a central place for me to collate & share online content / inspiration & eventually develop my ‘online voice’. On the advice of friends & readers, I decided to expand the blog by opening a small online retail space in 2014 & have since been collaborating with artisans / makers to slowly cultivate an (evolving) collection of unique objects from across the globe.
Otis & Otto is carefully curated; with objects I imagine you using in your own home. Is this an important factor when selecting makers for the shop?
I consider most objects as either practical or sentimental. If you don’t have a use for it or a memory / feeling attached to it – why own it? Unless we are talking about Bentwood chairs – I buy them compulsively & unnecessarily.
Why do you feel it’s important to support this new wave of makers and artists?
I think many of us seek a more visceral connection to the landscape & in doing so look beyond the veritable plethora of disposable objects to find beauty, meaning & value in our product choices. Supporting artisans who champion wares using handcrafted techniques might help us to preserve our connection with mother-nature & our past.
Can you share some of the ups and downs of running your own online shop?
Negotiating distractions. Working from home is convenient / rewarding but comes with uncertainties…juggling domestic / family life, wellbeing & a grass-roots business is a delicate balance. So far, my organic approach to expanding the business has worked…I could implement a more aggressive advertising / marketing strategy or invest more heavily in products but I would be taking on more than I can commit to for now. Assessing, accepting & owning my strengths / weaknesses has been a significant learning curve since embarking on the Otis & Otto project.
You made the move from Melbourne to Jan Juc on Victoria’s surf coast a few years back. Did the change of environment from the city to the sea have an impact on your family life and the way you live?
Absolutely. I feel more grounded & connected to EVERYTHING since we downshifted from the megalopolis.
Last year you traveled with your family to Paris and rural France, can you tell us a bit about your trip, were there places you visited which you found particularly inspiring/interesting?
Our trip to France was largely inspired by Peter Mayle. We spent one month - exploring, foraging, cooking, eating & drinking our way around Paris, Bourgogne, Lyon, Provence, Biarritz & Bordeaux.
You recently started a second Instagram page @lacuisinequotidienne, can you tell us a little about this new project?
La Cuisine Quotidienne (Everyday Cooking) is a quiet space for me to share everyday, simple deliciousness with other hungry cooks.
Cooking is an important part of your household. Can you share a favourite family recipe with us?
Lentilles du Puy. One of the highlights of our trip to France was visiting the Beaune Farmers Market, procuring tasty delights & returning home to cook a traditional Lentilles du Puy for my beloved. Served with crusty batard, generous lashings of butter & VIN…c’est manifique!
When you travel back to Melbourne are there any favourite places you always visit?
The Queen Victoria Market Food Hall. The symphony of hustle & aroma of Market Lane coffee lures me in every time!
Is there anything you are currently coveting?
A quiet place in the desert, surrounded by stone & howling coyotes.
Do you have any daily rituals?
I like to start my day with music, hot lemon water & a good breakfast...usually podge (with chia & raw honey).
What is your favourite item in the Otis & Otto shop at the moment?
Bahen & Co. Almond & Sea Salt Chocolate. A sweet & salty medley of roasted almonds, sea salt & dark cacao. Deliciousness.
What’s coming up next that’s exciting you?
More living. More loving!