A Moment With | Peita Davis
Peita Davis wants to change the world for the better, one beautifully and thoughtfully curated design at a time. With a knack for spotting unique and ethically made objects produced by talented artisans from all over the globe, Peita is the founder of Gingerfinch, an online store which she launched last September. The collection at Gingerfinch focuses on assisting the design-conscious improve their quality of life through functional and beautiful made products. Music to our ears. We talk to Peita about why research is one of the most important parts to a successful small business, why she is so passionate about what she does and how working from the heart has changed her life for the better.
Hi Peita, tell us a little about your background – what was your journey leading up to opening your online store Gingerfinch? Starting Gingerfinch was a huge career shift for me. I spent the past decade as a Middle East Political Analyst - a job I loved - but then my husband and I were posted to Kenya for my husband’s job. I was unable to work as an analyst, and, with lots of time on my hands, I found that my creative side started to re-awaken. I hunted out craftspeople in Nairobi, just to see what they created and how they worked. I started designing my own furniture and worked with a fantastic local carpenter to bring my ideas to life.
We returned to Australia in 2014 and I went back to my old job as an analyst, but I couldn’t shake my preoccupation with design. I wanted to create a platform that showcased the world’s very best sustainable design - made by relatively unknown, talented artists - to help design-conscious people improve their quality of life and live lightly on the planet. Gingerfinch was born. At the end of 2014, my husband and I were posted to Pakistan. I spent the next three years refining the Gingerfinch concept; defining the brand values, aesthetic and searching for the makers and designers who I wanted to partner with. I then finally launched Gingerfinch in September last year - in many ways, she’s still just a baby!
When was the idea first conceived to open an online store? Fundamentally, I created Gingerfinch in response to our hyper-consumerist, throw-away culture. My Grandmother’s home was filled with exquisite furniture and perfectly curated treasures - many were decades old. Everything she owned was of the highest quality and possessed a timeless elegance; she believed in living with less but having the best she could afford. She took meticulous care of everything in her home.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in a small business? Research, research, research. Business isn't something you should rush into. It’s scary, really hard, and it can put a huge amount of financial pressure on you and your family. You need to know why you want to do it, how you’re different, and what you can offer to customers who are constantly bombarded by marketing and ‘stuff’. You need to think about the character and values of your brand, and make sure everything you do is in line with them. Take your time before you spend loads of money and launch into something. Strong foundations are essential.
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut? Listening to podcasts by creatives. If I’m in a rut, I step away from my computer (I believe there’s no point trying to work when you’re out of juice), go for a long walk and listen to The Design Files podcast, Clever by Amy Devery and Jaime Derring, and Design Matters by Debbie Millman. Hearing the journeys of creatives, interviewed by incredible creatives, always gives me inspiration.
What’s something you couldn’t live without? My support network. My husband and cat provide me with incredible daily support and advice (although the cat’s advice is sometimes a bit dodgy!), and I’m now lucky to be living in the same city and my parents and sisters again. My mum is Gingerfinch’s number one fan, she’s adorable!
How emotionally driven is your work for you? I would say it is extremely emotional. Every decision in my business is made by weighing up my business values, then testing my gut. So perhaps ‘instinctive’ is a more accurate description than ‘emotional’. Whatever it is, it’s a far cry from how I operated in my former career as a political analyst. That was all head and no heart! I love my new, emotional career.
How do you challenge yourself? My husband would laugh at this question as he always tells me that I am the master of deliberately travelling the toughest road in life. I challenge myself by figuring out what scares me the most, and forcing myself to do it.
What are you most passionate about? Building something beautiful. Through Gingerfinch, I’m creating a world that I want to live in. Where everything is of the highest quality, so it lasts for years and we consume less. Where the production materials are kind to the earth; recycled, sustainable and dual-use. A world where every customer is treated the way I’d want to be treated - with authenticity, respect, and understanding. A world in which I work with fabulous and passionate people who share my values.
I usually wake up at: 7:30.
My perfect day would involve: Good coffee, getting lots of work done, then ending the day with a lovely glass of wine and hanging out with my husband.
I am inspired by: Good design, the Australian landscape, and people who follow their dreams.
Best advice I’ve ever received: My mum always says, ‘Your first choice is usually the right one’. As a chronic over-thinker (and over-researcher), it’s helped me tap into my intuition and instinct. And my first choice is very often the right one.
I couldn’t live without: Plants. I love gardening and my apartment is filled with gorgeous indoor plants. When I’m feeling flat, stressed - or even just bored - I head out to a park or bushland and just sit quietly with the trees and the birds for a while. It does the trick every time.
My favourite daily ritual: My 10am coffee - not too early, not too late.
I recently discovered: The Raw Milk Podcast! Love this one by creative powerhouse, Beth Kirby of @local_milk.
On my wish-list: I have coveted the Henry Wilson Studio brass table lamp for years…. one day my pretty, one day!
I’m currently reading: It’s a bit daggy, but I only read science fiction and fantasy novels. A lot of them. All of the time! I’m currently reading the Iron Gold trilogy, which is a follow up of the incredible Red Rising trilogy.
And listening to: It’s a few years old now but I still love the Big Little Lies soundtrack. It’s perfect background music for when friends are over, and for cranking up loud and dancing alone in the house.
My guilty pleasure: Dark chocolate licorice bullets. I have no willpower with them. A packet will be gone in a flash - and I won’t share a single one. It’s shameful!
My mantra is: If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.