When friends Fiona Mutton and Bec Sherriff got scheming in the pub back in 2013 neither could have imagined that in a few years time they would be sharing their eye for eclectic style at their beautiful store in Braidwood.
The two share a passion for South-East Asia, and have longstanding connections in the region. Fiona has a wealth of experience in retail, and though it was entirely new to Bec she was up for the challenge. Together they scoured Bali for textiles, homewares and treasures and secured a shopfront on Braidwood’s bustling main street. Sandalwood launched in February 2014, and was met with such enthusiasm Bec and Fiona had to rush back overseas just two weeks later, to frantically restock. Business has been non-stop ever since, and Braidwood locals and visitors alike fall in love with the colour and texture of the ever-changing array of unique goods that Sandalwood presents.
The shopping trips have now extended into India, Thailand and Cambodia. By drawing from a wide range of suppliers across a number of countries, and combining new wares with old, Sandalwood stylings are joyfully diverse, full of personality and individuality. The range on offer includes textiles and soft furnishings, furniture, fixtures and kitchenware, clothing and accessories, toys, jewellery and trinkets. Many items are one-offs – never to be repeated.
The shopping trips are far from glamorous and not for the faint-hearted, but Bec and Fiona don’t take shortcuts – committed to seeing the origin of their stock and ensuring ethical sourcing and production. They forgo the usual picks of large-scale stockists, instead working with small family operations, art cooperatives and venturing off the beaten track, working with locals to find reclaimed items and stunning antiques.
That means every piece in store is hand-selected, and each item tells a story. Bec and Fiona take pride in knowing the history and significance of the shop’s reclaimed and restored wares, and in having personally met the artists, craftspeople and families who produce the new product, maintaining ongoing partnerships. Sandalwood is able to give back to the regions in which it works by donating to charities that benefit the community.
Through their hard work, Bec and Fiona are creating ‘a life less ordinary’ for not only their customers but also for themselves, while supporting the livelihoods of artists, families and communities abroad – a rare shopping experience in today’s world.