People

Ingrid Starnes

Inside the home of the couple behind the label.

Ingrid Starnes and Simon Pound have a busy household. There are seven-year-old twins Ned and Olya plus three- year-old Gertie to look after – but also a busy workroom to run downstairs in their central Auckland rental. Ingrid Starnes, the label, has been in the fashion business since 2009, and over the last two years has diversified the brand offering with the addition of its own all-natural fragrance and skincare line. Ingrid Starnes, the person, makes it all work by keeping everything under one roof. Alice Lines sat down with her to find out how it all comes together…

This house is both your workplace and your family home – how does that work? It’s the kind of set-up that we’ll be grateful we had when we’re old, as we see a lot of the kids. Sometimes though, being grateful that the kids are right there is not always our first feeling! Overall, it’s great though. The workroom team are part of the family – our three-year-old is good friends with all of them, running to show them her latest paintings and always coming in to ‘help’. We knock off for a few hours to get the kids down and then often pick back up again. There’s lots to do in a small business when you make everything locally.

How does your landlord feel about you running your business from home? We’re very lucky to have lovely landlords who raised four kids in this house, so they’re happy for us to have our bustling three-kids-and-a-workroom situation here.

Is there a crossover between how you approach your work and how you curate your home? We try to only have things that we love, following the sustainability ethos of “buy once, buy well” and looking after the things we have. Everything in this house has a special story or attachment. There aren’t a lot of things that might go out of fashion any time soon – though they might accidentally pop back into fashion.

How would you describe your aesthetic – and how does it inform your design? We have a love for detail, fabric, craft and drape – beautiful things that are not of a season but can be loved for years
to come. We appreciate and like to make special things for everyday use. We like to know our impact and the lives of the people involved in the production of what we do. We love things made with care and detail, that were built to be beautiful forever, that are classic and perhaps a bit eccentric.

You’ve recently expanded your brand into homewares – how did this come about? We started with a perfume, because we love perfume, and didn’t know that we probably shouldn’t because of all the difficulties in getting it down to a sensible scale. It has been enormous fun though and has led to us making a range of all-natural perfumed products. We have products at all stages of development everywhere and live in a constant haze of Vetyver Bergamot. We are looking forward to the day that our lives are as fancy as they smell!

Does your collection of iconic, locally designed objects influence the homewares you’re making? Simon is the collector – he has Maori chieftains made from Jim Beam bottles, an original print of the false rendering of Captain Cook’s death and a Temuka chieftain tobacco jar that is loaned to museum collections – you know, just the stuff any normal 33-year-old is into. But yes, our Brentleigh Ware vases helped to influence our candle ceramic. We tracked down the last Crown Lynn mould-maker and made our own floral relief ceramic. We use them for pretty much everything around the house and are in the process of making one that is ridiculously big, like a full vase. It might end up being the world’s most over-the-top candle, so we’ll probably end up with a few of those around the house too.

Is it true that your spring/summer clothing collection is partly inspired by the work of Kirstin Carlin? Yes, Kirstin Carlin is an artist we’re a bit obsessed with – that’s her work hanging in the lounge. We first saw one of her works in the background of a photo online, tracked her down, met her for coffee, went to an exhibition she had in her living room with our three kids under five in tow, and have been friends since. We love her application of paint, the luscious texture, the colours… they are just magical.

And what about the magic in your house – what is your favourite aspect of it? The big living room and kitchen – we often have friends over and all the kids in there too. We love to cook and eat, so it is a very important space – well, if we had to boil it down, we mainly love to eat.

Words Alice Lines
Photography Duncan Innes