South Australian-based maker Grace Simpson launched her own business in 2019 after struggling to find Australian-made personalised gifts. She chats all things Hello Parker & Co with Graziher.
Tell me a bit about your background and how Hello Parker & Co started?
I live on a farm in Tintinara, SA with my husband and 2-year-old son Parker. When we got engaged in 2016 and then married in 2017, I found it really hard to find “laser cut” signage, cake toppers, etc in Australia. So much came from overseas and I found there seemed to be a huge gap in the market, especially of things being easily accessible to the average person – not just corporate signage. As time went by, I starting researching and when Parker was born in 2018, having a little person of my own made me even more passionate about personalised keepsakes. In 2019 made it happen, and it’s been growing over the last 18 months.
What was the inspiration behind the business itself?
I love the idea of everything personalised. Personalised gifts are so special and such a precious keepsake, not only the occasion but for a lifetime. To me, a money box is a special gift, but a personalised money box is extra special. I wanted them to be in everyone’s homes.
Had you studied or worked in small business before starting your own?
I hadn’t studied, but I had worked on our family farm growing up, and was always working in small, local businesses within Tintinara as a kid. Then I worked in a gift shop and newsagency in Adelaide while briefly studying nursing (I kept fainting – Hello Parker and Co doesn’t involve any blood, so we are all good), then buying the Keith Newsagency in 2015 and turning it into more of a giftshop really helped me to have a greater understanding of small. I’m certainly still winging it!
Where do you look for inspiration when creating your products?
As funny or cliche as it may sound, my customers are the biggest inspiration for the pieces. Often when I’m designing pieces, it starts from someone wanting something specific – this often reflects their personality in some way. I am also obsessed with Australian foliage and our farm lifestyle which is a huge part of my inspiration. Through our friends and family, I am so supported, they are always giving me ideas of what they’d like and think others would like, too.
Being based in a rural area, how important has social media been to build your business?
Our platform is 90% online. I’m fortunate that our local communities are so supportive, and through social media I have been able to stock other small businesses with selected products which obviously helps to get our name out there… but social media has been key.
I am still very much a beginner and have so much to learn through social media but so far it has been an incredible platform to begin growing our business.
What have been some of your highlights since starting Hello Parker & Co?
My highlight is still every order that comes through – I literally do a happy dance! The fact that people trust me to create special pieces for them is the highest honour.