Behind the Brand Part 1: An Interview with Rebecca Elms

We’re big on community and connection. Since opening the doors of our store in September, Surry Hills has welcomed us with open arms. So, we figured it was about time that we told you a little bit about how Elms came to be!

Meet Rebecca Elms – store owner, mother and Monday enthusiast with a penchant for celery juice and a virtuosic eye for styling spaces. Rebecca, her husband Dave, and daughter Noa, 7, live in a terrace home in Redfern, NSW, which they recently renovated (we’ll have pics for you soon, stay tuned)!

When asked about her aesthetic, it’s clear that Rebecca’s organised yet diverse style perhaps stems from an unwillingness to be pinned down. This need for freedom is also a driving force behind Elms.

So, without further ado, let’s catch up.

What inspired you to venture into interior design?

I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to do interior design. Growing up, I was always drawing pictures of house interiors and floor plans. My dad worked for Qantas, so he would bring me back magazines like Vogue Living, Elle Decor and all different kinds of interiors magazines from overseas – they were everywhere in our home.

At school, I was terrible at science and maths. Out of the 12 units I had to do for my HSC, six of them were textiles & art. I just loved it. I then went on to study interior design in North Sydney.

Rebecca Elms Elms Store

What steps in your career led you here?

My first job out of school was assisting in designing kitchens and bathrooms. Then I worked for a company that did commercial shop fit outs, managing orders/spending time on site. I later became a design assistant to two amazing women at Woven Image (a fabric company), which I loved because every day was so different.

A huge turning point in my career was when one of the women left to start her own business designing and manufacturing toiletry bags and women’s accessories. I knew it wouldn’t be the same working at the company without her, so that’s when I decided to move overseas to London. It was just perfect timing.

When I returned to Sydney a couple of years later, she was in a position to hire, so I joined her for six years doing PR, marketing, and sales – acting as her sidekick. I really learned every side of the business in that role. We had started exporting into the U.S. and the U.K., so I approached her and asked if she’d be interested in having me open up the U.K. office. I moved back to London for another year with my then boyfriend now husband, Dave.

Why did you decide to open Elms?

I think there are two types of people: there are employees and then there are not. Sometimes I wish so much I could be an employee, but I just can't!! I love the freedom that having your own business brings. I really need freedom. I don’t need to go on holidays for two months, but I want to be able to drop off my daughter, Noa, at school and pick her up. That’s really important to me.

I knew the store I wanted to have—a beautifully curated store that promoted Australian brands—and I was at the point where I had a clear direction and wanted to make decisions for myself and my family. Plus, I think fate played a big part in the space being available when it was.

Why have you chosen to carry exclusively Australian brands?

There are so many good things here that need to be showcased! There are so many Australians doing amazing things, creating beautiful brands, that people need to know about! We have a lot to offer.

Elms Australian Products

What’s your favourite city to visit?

Cliché, but I love New York. It’s really familiar and I’ve had some amazing times there. I love going there for inspiration & love seeing how stores are merchandised. I also loved living in London. That city in the summertime… you just can’t beat it. Can I say Rome as well - well, anywhere in Italy.  

Favourite interior design trend at the moment?

I don’t follow any trends. I love the idea of feeling really comfortable in a space. I love showcasing items we’ve collected over the years that carry meaning. I am also really passionate about stuff & making your home still feel like a home without being full of clutter. I am obsessed with Marie Kondo & although I think that she can be really extreme for most, I think there is so much value in living a simple & easy life, surrounded by things you love.

I love blush as a colour, I love Tasmanian oak, I love a super organised home.

Elms Store Kip and Co Marmoset Found

What's next for Elms?

Oh so much!!! We're working on a number of exhibitions at the moment for our gallery space (we're now booked up until October) which is really exciting. We love supporting local talent and we're connecting with more and more people every day who introduce potential for our space.

I'm also going back to my interior design roots and will be offering decluttering and interior styling services soon, so stay tuned! Beyond that, we have some amazing brand collaborations in the works that we can't wait to share.