Meet The Designer Of Our Luxury Outdoor Furniture

Meet The Designer of Our Luxury Outdoor Furniture

It takes a special kind of person to create exceptional outdoor furniture. Here, designer, founder and owner of Osier Belle, Penelope Camplisson, shares what it’s like to be a woman in business and her philosophy of quality and care.


Hi Penny, where were you born?

I was born in Buckie, Scotland, and lived in Kingston Upon Spey – a world famous area for the best whiskies! We moved constantly around the UK and Germany as my father was in the RAF. The tradition stayed with me throughout my adult life – my last relocation was my 36th move!


When did you settle in Australia?

I moved to Australia in 2001 with my ex-husband, Roger. We had Iz (Isabella), our daughter, who was two and a half years old at the time, and moved here so she would have us both in her life. Six years ago Roger joined Osier Belle – he’s very passionate and committed to the business.


Tell us about your career before Osier Belle?

Early in my career I worked on House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping and SHE magazines in the UK, then at the BBC. My roles were in homes and interiors. Whenever the freebies came around  I found myself far more excited about homewares than perfumes and scarves.


What does home mean to You?

Home is exceptionally important to me – it is my security blanket. Wherever I go, even living in a camperbus, I modify my space with quirky ideas, textures, lighting, smells and home comforts that make it feel addictively inviting. I like to ignite all the senses and create an environment that spoils.


Describe your Personal Style?

I am a true boho girl with a 60s vibe! This is reflected throughout my Osier Belle designs. I don’t follow the trends – in fashion or furniture – I go with what I like and enjoy.


What inspired you to launch Osier Belle Luxury Outdoor Furniture?

The inspiration came from a small online business I was running while working as a Personal Trainer. I wanted to work from home, while I brought up Iz, and was selling outdoor furniture settings. They were made in China, great value and popular in Australia but limited in material, quality and design. I was frustrated with the lack of versatility and saw a huge gap in the market for luxury outdoor furniture. I wanted customers to get furniture built for the Australian climate that fits perfectly into their home, personality and style. Belle is my maiden name and Osier means wicker in French.


What was available in the Australian market at the time?

The only outdoor furniture available was not designed for Australia – a country with a challenging and unforgiving climate. I started to design with different shapes and styles, forgetting about the cost of making the product and focusing on making the most luxurious designs without compromise. This includes the thickness of cushions, the quality of foam, the skill of the weaving, the solid structure of the framework, the three-way marine grade zips (for easy cover removal), the marine grade fabric (guaranteed not to fade), the all-weather thread and no flat-pack designs. I went against the grain and industry process to create something unique.


Is it true you set up your own factory?

Initially I set out to find a factory capable of producing my designs, however I found creativity and innovation were behaviours firmly secondary to cost-cutting and maximising profit margin. They are not sweatshops but the lack of quality control and the environment they expect workers to work in, I found upsetting and unnecessary. So, we took on an old factory and started up ourselves!

Osier Belle isn’t about quantity and mass production; it is about quality, attention to detail and creating with love and care. We’re not a factory that works with a catalogue of designs. We make every piece for our customer, customised to size and using the materials of their choosing. We love and look after our team like they are our family. Our staff are respected, supported, valued and paid very well. The factory is carpeted, we have music and water dispensers, food always available, showers, uniforms and a prayer room.


Tell us about your career highlights?

Opening my first showroom, which was the size of a small fish and chip shop, and seeing my logo go up on the outside was very emotional. Several celebrities have my furniture which is huge – hearing their enjoyment and appreciation is never lost on me. Through hard work and authenticity  I’ve managed to achieve a reputation through word of mouth rather than expensive advertising. I find myself invited into amazing homes for consultations which still blows my mind.


And what about your setbacks?

Bringing up a child while growing a business with no financial support was challenging. I couldn’t get a business loan and didn’t pay myself for years – I put all the money I made back into the business. What it did give me was the freedom to do what I wanted and what felt right. I didn’t get it right many times but I learnt from my mistakes and juggled – something women do incredibly well.


Have you had any mentors along the way?

Short answer – nope! Many people told me it wouldn’t work and there was a time when I wanted to throw it all in. One day Iz and I went to the swimming pool and she made friends with a girl in the water. Her new friends’ mother was absorbed in a book she couldn’t put down. I remember thinking, ‘this is a sign’. On the way home I bought that book and read it cover to cover. It inspired me, excited me, reminded me of why I started this journey and gave me the gumption to keep going. It was called Losing my Virginity, by Richard Branson.


Is there one quote that has inspired you?

Iz made this fabulous ring bound A6 book that she hand wrote when she was nine years old – it has a quote on every page. It includes quotes like, ‘Forget all the reasons why it won’t work – believe the one reason why it will’ and ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’, ‘Logic wil get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you everywhere’, and ‘Bad days happen but don’t give up, just eat crisps’, because crisps are literally my favourite food!
My favourite quote is: ‘There are people out there that tell you that you can’t. What you’ve gotta do is turn around and say, ‘Watch me’’.


What are your future goals – where to next?

I would like to grow Osier Belle with a view to selling it and I’m playing with the idea of launching another brand called Ollie & Walt, named after my Spoodle that passed away and my current Dachshund. This will combine all our skills, and quality control, using local materials so we can provide high quality designs at more economical prices. I have toyed with the idea of expanding the business, but I feel the personality of Osier Belle would be lost. I’m not money driven; my passion comes from creating and helping people achieve something beautiful in their lives. I’d also like to share my passion and knowledge by mentoring new business owners and people who are at a crossroads with their business ideas.


What advice would you give business owners who are just starting out?

Knowledge is everything. When you don’t know how to do it don’t let it deter you, define you or hold you back. Everything is possible, you just have to find out how. And, of course, be your biggest cheerleader and best friend. Together you can achieve anything.


If you would like to read more, please contact the team here to receive a complimentary copy of our ‘Outdoor Sanctuaries’ Magazine.
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