Salty Shadows Interview- Alessandra Picton
Salty Shadows, a brand name that reflects an Aussie summer spent sipping your cool drink of choice (mine would be an Aperol, thanks) at your fave beach in the blistering sun hiding under a salty shadow. This iconic beach item has been given a big upgrade by Salty Shadows as they incorporate beautifully designed patterns while also being extremely practical and reliable. Salty Shadows has made a name for themselves in the Instagram world and among coastal businesses around Australia as they continue to provide their customers with quality umbrellas. Spell has even posted about them for goodness sake (fan girl moment!) Alessandra, the owner, lives a mere 5 minute drive from me, yet we found it easier to do this interview over the internet because, well, MUM LIFE! She's an incredible mum of 3 and is currently renovating her beautiful house that overlooks acreage in our lush town of Crescent Head. Check out what she has to say about her business, the environment and juggling the task that is being a mum AND a business owner (trust me, this ain't any walk in the park)...
I LOVE the name Salty Shadows! How was the brand born?
Thank you . I had been dreaming up umbrellas since my uni days. I would always say to my mate why can you only get a stripe umbrella but you can get all sorts of designs on clothes- it was really just an idea in my head and never thought it would turn into something I did for a business. My friend had a surf shop and just encouraged me to just do it as she couldn’t get any umbrellas so that’s where it all started.
Your brand is a true reflection of a warm Australian summer, I remember Spell reposting you a few times (fan girl moment!), how’d you build Salty Shadows to where it is now?
The build has been a slow organic one, with many mistakes. I started off with help from an agent who knew the business of making product and helped with first round of design sampling etc. It wasn’t a very cost effective way to go though so my hubby and l went to China to look for a factory. From there is was just slowly working on making the product suit what I wanted. Something that lasts, is mindful in what materials are used and try to make it look beautiful. I look back at our first umbrellas and feel so embarrassed at them but I guess that’s how you grow.
I’ve seen hubby doing trips to the PO for you a few times (nothing is hidden in our tiny town hehe). Is it just you behind the scenes?
I feel like Salty is totally my baby but I can not say it’s just me. My husband definitely helps out with day to day things, and I do love the send him to the post office. I feel like my sister in law (who owns her own business) and brother are essential pieces in the Salty puzzle. I am always talking to Jes about ideas and my brother does all my packing and warehouse organising. I just couldn’t do it without them.
Fellow mum in biz, I understand it’s easy to drown in running your own business, any tips to help it all somehow (or even for a minute) work?
It’s hard work. The juggle is real and daily and trying to find the balance for me is the hardest part. I’m lucky as my work is very seasonal but when I’m in the thick of summer l really have to plan ahead and put aside whole days just to play with kids and not worry about work. I think allocating certain times for work is good too. My office is the kitchen bench and my emails are on my phone which isn’t always great as I’m constantly checking them. This year I’m going to try and not check or respond to emails past school pick up time. My other tip would be to say yes to help. It’s so hard to do but take all the help you can. Having kids is a full time job and adding a business on top requires your village of people to support you- take the help, babysitting, cooking, cleaning etc. Oh and go surfing. Always go surfing.
Tell us about the Blue Planet initiative you have on your website...
My blue planet initiative isn’t anything special really. I feel like I’m creating more in this world and I still struggle with that. I think we need to slow down and produce much less. The page just outlines what ethical production means for my business. Doing small runs, making use of all the materials that we create in the process, choosing materials that are longer lasting and also more easily recycled. Creating anything is not environmentally friendly and l think any business that claims that is wrong. What we create just has to be produced with more thought and with less waste. We also try and offset our damage by giving a portion of profits to sea shepherd.
Do hubby and the kids have a fave dish you cook?
Love this question. They would all say something different. Im always cooking three different meals- l hate it! Haha. Im vegetarian and the rest of my family love meat. Sooo I’ll tell you my favourite - pan fried gnocchi with garlic, peas and mushrooms.
Quick 3 (answer these questions within the first second of reading them):
Mals or shortboard? Shortboard
Pastels or neutrals? Pastels
Hip hop or Rock? Rock
Thanks for being so generous and lending me your time Alessandra! See you around our beautiful town :)
saltyshadows.com is their website and details. Umbrellas can also be found at Coastal Folk, Crescent Head.