How many times have you been stuck in the rain, only to get to work feeling like a drowned rat? Nothing worse. Clothes clinging to you, socks or stockings damp all day. Awful.
Danielle Holloway had the same thought after another wet working day in Melbourne. Only, she actually did something about it. She invented a great new boot that merges the functionality of a wet weather gum boot but is stylish enough to wear as part of your work or casual attire. Genius!!
Danielle shares what inspired the launch of Merry People, why passion is everything in building a business, and of course what her favourite natural perfume is.
ALL ABOUT DANIELLE HOLLOWAY
1. What inspired you to launch a boots brand?
Having grown up on a farm in Leongatha, South Gippsland, I was always aware of how functional gumboots could be in adverse weather conditions. It wasn't until I was taking my daily commute into the city to my corporate job with Melbourne's notoriously temperamental weather, walking into work with wet feet, that I considered a boot that bridged the gap between country and city environments. Realising this gap in the market, I decided to create my own!
2. Where does the name Merry People come from?
When thinking of a brand name, I kept coming back to the idea of happiness; it was why I wanted to start the business and it was how I wanted my customers to feel when they wore their boots. Ie: spending time outdoors, camping, festivals, in the garden, walking the dog, splashing in puddles.
Gumboots and splashing through puddles or mud - takes me back to my childhood. It's a moment to be free, spontaneous to break free (even just for a moment) all the daily stresses that come from being an adult.
After 3 months of writing down all my ideas, thoughts and feelings about the brand in a scrapbook - One morning in bed I woke and thought of the word Merry! It felt more fun and playful than the word happiness and how I wanted customers to feel. The business was initially ‘The Merry People’ but I changed 6 months in, to Merry People.
3. What is unique about your boots?
For me, I feel like gumboots are the most practical shoe in winter (especially in Melbourne when you never know if it is going to rain) and I didn't think anyone had done them in an everyday way. Gumboots typically don't keep your feet warm, or they make your feet sweat, they are often not comfortable and can be hard to walk in. So I wanted to create a boot that solved all these problems.
I wanted to create a gumboot that was an everyday boot, customers could wear; city to country, morning to night, irrespective of the weather.
\ Durable chunky tread design for extra traction
\ 100% waterproof and tested for sub-zero temperatures keeping your toes dry and toasty-warm
\ Enhanced traction sole tested by Intertek Global testing laboratory
\ Natural rubber with flexible neoprene lining making it easy to slip on and off in style
\ 100% Vegan, not made from any animal products, or tested on animals
\ Arch support for all day comfort
\ Sole design is inspired by the rolling hills of South Gippsland, Australia - my home!
\ A range of bright, neutral and dark colours to suit everyone's palate.
4. Why have people fallen in love with your boots?
It's been so humbling to see how many people have bought and connected with Merry people…. It means a lot! Every Sunday afternoon when my son naps, I read and personally respond to our instagram tagged posts. I love seeing the happiness our boots give to people. It makes me feel centred and reminds me of why I do what I do!
I think customers like Merry People because it is a great product sold at a fair price and it solves a problem for many people in their lives - They now have comfortable warm feet as they go about their days.
We are not trying to be the ‘sexy’ or ‘too cool’ brand - we are a product and brand for everyone and our mission is to inspire a more Merry world! A concept that a lot of people connect with and want in their lives.
5. What inspires you with your designs?
Gumboots will always be our hero product and we are very considered with our products. I have a framework have given my Head of Product (Cassandra) to help her on product ideation and design. This includes; Quality Products, Useful Products, Ability to use Colour & Sustainable Consideration.
I love working with Cassandra. She is always very respectful of my vision as a founder and can overlay her technical skills and commercial acumen. Together we share ideas and colours and brainstorm different options (which is a lot of fun!) Sometimes things look better on the computer than what they do in real life and vice versa.
We basically look at a mixture of things; what we feel like our range is missing, what our customer wants, what we would wear and what we think is going to be on-trend. I visualise different colours with different outfits. I love bright colours (I rarely wear black) and love to push the boundaries with colour combinations in my day-to-day wardrobe, so this helps me with ideation.
6. What advice would you give other’s building their own brand / business?
There are different schools of thought on this, however I think it's really important to do something you’re passionate about.
I think when you’re passionate, work (for the most part) doesn't feel like work. I think your customers and staff can connect more with you and your vision (helps you obtain and retain great people.)
It was also what got me through a lot of tough times in the early days (both financial and emotional!) as I really believed in what I was creating.
7. What’s your first memory of perfume?
My mum's perfume. She had one called Poeme. My Dad bought her for Christmas and I loved it! I would go into her bedroom and spray it on myself when she wasn't looking and always felt so ‘grown up’ and more feminine.
8. Did you have a favourite scent growing up?
I did love Poeme (because of my Mum). But Amore Amore reminds me of my university years. There was something about it that made me feel more of an adult. And a little wild, young and free as an 18 year old!
9. What style of perfume do you now wear and love?
I love musky and spicy type perfumes. I am currently wearing Euphoria by Calvin Klein. It was a perfume I owned in my early twenties. A girlfriend of mine bought it for me as a gift. I don't see her that much these days, but when I saw at the chemist one day I forgot about it and it reminded me of her/the amazing times we used to have together at work - so I bought it again!
10. What comes to mind with the words ’natural living’ and ‘living energy’?
Natural Living - I think of plant based products, minimal consumption and using primal or old-fashioned methods of everyday tasks.
Living Energy - I think about the energy that I get from my surroundings. Including; The people that are in my everyday life, the park I walk around every morning and night, my dog and my house. I think about the energy I try to create for myself and the awareness of sensory elements in my life (including smells.)
11. What contribution are you (or you would like to) bring to this world?
Ultimately - A more Merry world.
I hope I can have a positive impact on the people I work with, my customers and the world around me (including the environment.)
I also hope I can make a difference in the world and give back in a way that genuinely helps people/or to causes that need it.
12. What’s your dream for the future?
Personally: I hope me and my family continue to enjoy the simple things in life - being together, being outdoors and spending time with our friends & respective families.
Professionally: I hope Merry People continues to be a brand that people connect with. I hope my team are all happy and well rounded people, living their best lives in and outside of work. I hope we can grow into a brand that has a CSR element. I hope we can continue to innovate to improve our sustainability footprint.
Danielle Holloway's favourite Sensoriam Scent – Vanessa Megan Wild Woud.