Inspired by a visit to Argentina, with a business plan formulated in a Tuscan farmhouse, Australian boutique cowhide rug brand has turned 10!
Founded by two Australian sisters, Kura Perkins and Bree Hay-Hendry, Art Hide operates in Australia and the United States, and has agents in global locations including the UAE and UK.
Art Hide has made the equivalent of 25,000 sqm of rugs over 10 years, with a large percentage of these being custom rugs. Art Hide has worked with some of the world's best designers producing custom masterpieces for both residential and commercial projects.
Today we sit down with founders Kura and Bree to discuss their wild ride of the last ten years.
How did Art Hide start?
" I was on a round-the-world trip with my young family in 2009 and visited Argentina while there," says Kura.
"I had decided I wanted to buy a cowhide while there as Argentina is known for cattle, ranches, hides & gauchos (cowboys), but while there I stumbled across a unique tapestry that really made my head spin.
We then moved to Italy for two years and while living in a Tuscan farmhouse, I plotted a business plan for Art Hide and registered the business in 2010.We started with a simple collection using natural cowhides, inspired by the rug I'd found in Argentina, and had some lucky early wins with customised pieces for Australian clients in the restaurant industry.
Was Bree always involved in the business?
Kura said, "Bree is a university trained fashion and textiles designer and when I first started Art Hide, she was working in fashion.
However she quickly joined the business as I needed her amazing skills to help me design new collections! Bree's ongoing role as Creative Director has steered us much more into the 'Art' of the 'Hide' and it is safe to say her skillset and experience has been fundamental to Art Hide's success!"
" I was a little surprised when Kura said she was leaving her PR career and starting a business in cowhide...I was like, how are you going to do that?!" said Bree.
"So I gradually became more and more involved as time went on, and eventually have moved into Art Hide as Creative Director in a full time capacity, alongside our other interior brands, Amigos de Hoy and Ground Control."
What's it like working together?
Says Kura, "Well for the first 9 years of the business, I was based in Italy and then Perth and Bree was based in Sydney. So we haven't exactly been in each other's pockets! We both have clearly defined roles and something of a yin and yang skillset.
Bree is the creative and the master of attention to detail. She creates our collections and her deep knowledge of textiles means that what we or our clients dream up we can actually create, and that the products are practical as well as beautiful. In addition, Bree oversees our digital marketing, our Room Service render program and has the huge role of managing production with our artisan teams; generally ensuring that our product quality is second to none and exceeds our clients' expectations.
In my role as CEO, I manager customer service, public relations and a lot of the 'boring' stuff, including warehousing, logistics and operations - and everything else in between! We have two staff in Australia and a small team in the United States who assist us with it all.
What do you love most about what you do at Art Hide?
Bree: " I never could have predicted I would end up designing with a textile like cowhide! However it is something I have come to really enjoy because it is such an excellent textile with really fabulous properties. For example, it is a natural textile and has very practical elements like being highly stain resistant and really durable for busy households. It comes in a stunning array of natural colours and patterns, however it also takes beautifully to being dyed and this is something we do a lot of within our collections".
Kura: "I really love making beautiful, high quality heirloom products that people love. It is incredibly satisfying! In addition, working on unique custom projects is always a joy - we usually get to see one part of our client's vision and it is really exciting to see that come together into a breathtaking interior.
Tell us more about the designing process and how you work with colour?
"Art Hide typically brings out a big new collection every 1-2 years. Our designs are timeless and some of our oldest cowhide rug designs remain the most popular" says Kura.
Bree adds, " We start working on new ranges well in advance, and often gather inspiration when we are traveling together at one of the many international trade shows that we do, for example, we saw some beautiful old paving in New York . last May and that has inspired one of our new tile shapes for our forthcoming 2020 collection!
In terms of colour, being a textile and fashion designer means that I always have a feel for the trends and so in part we are looking at this, and also looking at what will combine well with our natural colours and what gaps we have in the range. But often we create new colours for our clients' specific projects and then these eventually become part of the range.
One thing is for sure, we love colour and we're very particular about it, often taking 20 lab dips to nail the exact shade that we want!"
What's next for Art Hide?
Says Kura, "We have an incredible new 10th birthday collection coming out in the next few months. Hand on heart, I can honestly say it is our most exciting and beautiful collection to date. We are just waiting for the state borders to open so we can get to Melbourne to shoot it!
We are also just about to launch a new shared digital showroom for Art Hide and our other customisable rug brand, Ground Control by Amigos de Hoy.
Bree adds, " it is an exciting time because I have just moved back to Perth and so it will definitely make for a change to the way we work and potentially how much more productive we can be!"
" It is also really nice for Mum and Dad to have us both here with all the kids. We have five little girls between us and I should mention they have all well and truly been guinea pigs for Art Hide's ranges, with us undertaking regular food spills and crayon 'tests' and road testing the wear and tear of the rugs in our busy households!, says Kura.