The insanely talented Sydney-based designer Maddy Duggan is a genius in the soft furnishings world in my eyes. The business is named after her Great-Grandfather, William Heckenberg, and was shortened to Billy making it sound modern, perfectly reflecting her mixed style of old and new. Her passion and eye for art, design and photography have merged into something rather marvellous. A degree in Fine Art led her down this creative path. Spending a few years travelling around Europe after university also gave her the inspiration to start her own business (AND start her own family as she met her husband there too). That, combined with a love of architecture and industrial landscape seems like a recipe for success to me…
How long have you had your company up and running?
Billy Heckenberg has been up and running since December 2012, but it was quite a long time in the making. I had always dreamt of having my own company and for a long time thought it would be a leather accessories brand. It wasn’t until I decided to make a few cushions to sell at the markets that I found my true calling.
Can you remember the feeling you got when you got your first order?
I was completely overwhelmed. There’s nothing more satisfying than poring you heart and soul into something, let alone putting it out there and having it be accepted. The order came from my incredibly supportive brother and his wife, who told me that they wanted to be the first customers I ever had, and I have never forgotten that.
What goals are you setting for the Billy Heckenberg brand at the moment? Could you see yourself expanding into bedding and other household items?
I have huge plans for the brand and I am so excited that I am only just at the beginning. Currently working on samples for bedding as we speak, and planning to expand into table wares, wall hangings and more bags. There is no limit really and I just love the feeling I get when I think about the possibility of new prints and products.
How do you manage working on your own?
It can be hard at times to work on your own as there is no one else that can lighten the load, and if I don’t do it, it wont get done. On the other hand I love being my own boss and being free to make all the decisions about the business. I do have plans to start employing people soon and hopefully that will free up the time needed to spend on designing and making new samples, my favourite part.
It can be difficult to find new ideas. Where do you seek inspiration?
I have to say I’m quite lucky when it comes to creativity, I am always inspired and see inspiration everywhere. I never stop thinking about new ideas, prints, designs and ways to construct them. I am quite decisive and listen to my gut instinct and have learnt to cut things early if they don’t seem like they are going to work.
Photography plays a huge part in your designs and you also studied Fine Arts which included painting, drawing and textiles. Which would you say you get the most enjoyment out of?
I do absolutely love photography. I took a huge break from it when I finished University, due to the fact that I was so burnt out, and only found my love for it again when taking the product images for my brand. I still love the whole process of having my photos printed onto fabric, designing and making that product, and then photographing it again.
What room in your house is your favourite?
I have to say I love our open kitchen living area. We only recently moved into this new place and I love the huge open area. The kitchen is sun-drenched all day and just has such a great feel to it.
This might be an obvious one, but what colour combination do you love the most?
Of course this would be black and white. What can I say, I love contrast!
Which brands / shops / designers do you love the most?
So what do you have in store for next season?
I have just sent off my latest designs to be sample printed and fingers crossed they turn out the way I have visioned. Without giving too much away I have to say there are quite bold and will make amazing statement pieces.
If you could be anyone in the world for a day, who would you be?
I know I’m probably meant to say some sort of celebrity, but I have to say I would love to be my daughter Erin. She’s 3 and a half and it’s just such an amazing age and I would love to see the world through her eyes.
This would have to be dog. I have 3 staffies and they mean the world to me.
Which beauty item could you not live without?
Most definitely moisturiser, could not live without it.
I, for one, cannot wait to see her new designs!