Interview with Nareen Holloway, Owner of Marmoset Found

Melbourne-based brand, Marmoset Found, is a testament to the adage that slow and steady wins the race. With a Master in International Development and a penchant for interior styling, founder Nareen Holloway set out to create a range of socially-responsible, handcrafted homewares. She spent two years doing market research before launching the brand back in 2010, and the company has been steadily growing ever since.  

We sat down with Nareen to ask her about her creative process, how she balances business and motherhood, and which items in her home bring her the most joy.

Tell us about the early days. Where did you come up with the idea for Marmoset Found?

Just after my first child was born, I returned to university to study a Master in International Development. The focus of my studies was how to do business in an ethical, sustainable and empowering manner with less developed countries. Around the same time, I was renovating our home and became frustrated at the lack of handmade, affordable homewares on offer. The combination of these factors led me to book my first trip to find small scale makers - the rest is history!

How did you move from concept to launching the brand?

I spent around two years researching what I thought was missing from the market, what I wanted to offer, and how to go about it. I started slowly and contacted stores and stylists directly who I thought might like my collection. It was tough going, but eventually, I was stocking product in a couple of high-profile stores, and everything snowballed from that point.

How have you managed to juggle motherhood while building a successful brand? What's one piece of wisdom you can pass on to other women venturing down the same path?

These days I feel like I have a good balance. My advice would be to outsource as much and as soon as you can with your business - especially the areas that you don't particularly enjoy. Streamline your job so that you are doing what you love and what you are good at and pay others (if your budget allows) to do the rest. Also, be patient. It has taken me eight years to find the balance that I set out to achieve.

How do you combat burnout? Do you have a self-care routine?

I try and exercise every day and like to mix it up a bit. Pilates a couple of times a week and long walks with some girlfriends. I go to bed pretty early and find that I don't function well the next day if I have had a late night.

Can you tell us about the process of working with your amazing makers?

I sketch all my designs on paper and tweak them over several days and sometimes weeks. The design process can take up to a year from the first concept to finally seeing the product in a store. I have been working with mostly the same suppliers since the brand began - they know the aesthetic I am trying to create. Mostly I communicate via email or skype; however, it is still important to meet in person regularly. 

What do you do or where do you go to find inspiration?

My most recent 'inspiration' trip was to Morocco, and it was every bit as amazing as what I hoped. I was lucky enough to travel with Julia from Greenhouse Interiors and Pip from Jumbled. SO MUCH FUN!

I usually take 2-3 trips each year. Often to Vietnam and India but also Japan, China, Thailand and the Philippines and find this incredibly inspirational.

What do you love most about living in Australia?

I feel like we have the best of everything in Australia. Amazing food and wine, a great design scene and also abundant opportunities to enjoy nature.

What are the five items in your home that bring you the most joy at the moment?

  1. My new LRNCE vase purchased from her gorgeous studio in Marrakech.
  2. I absolutely love to drink The Beauty Chefs' Collagen Inner Beauty boost". It tastes delicious mixed with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime.
  3. Fresh blooms from Flowers Vasette
  4. Golden Goose sneakers
  5. Beautiful bed linen from Society of Wanderers.

When you're entertaining, is there a go-to Marmoset Found dish that you use to serve your guests?

The piece I use over and over again is the Marmoset Found round platter. Often, I use it as a cheese plate and add both the XS and SS bowls for crackers and olives. It is also the perfect size for a dessert cake.

What's on the horizon for Marmoset Found?

We are expanding our glass collection. I have wanted to create a range of glass vases for a long time to sit alongside the ceramic vessels. The glass is being so well received, and I am looking forward to adding more pieces to this collection.