sasha white for mrandmrswhite.net

River Bennett (Photgraphy River Bennett)

 

 

Strong, sleek lines of timber, softened with the cool, silky touch of leather. This is the essence of Mr & Mrs White. They are all about simple, honest and handmade designs, drawing out the natural beauty of a material. Mr White makes the furniture and Mrs White makes the textiles. This was a natural progression for the couple, as together they combined the things they loved most to create a business that is all about home.

For them, it’s always been about home. Married at an early age, home was the prize. A place to rest, a place to hide, a place to gather. And for Sasha White, home is found on the Northern Beaches of Sydney with husband, Nathan and their two beautiful daughters; Selah Grace and Oak Louise. And this is her story.

When I was a little girl I lived in New York. It was 10 years of my childhood, which now seems like a lifetime ago. The whole experience really bonded us as a family. My parents were there to start a church and we literally knew no one. They were brave, hard-working and trusted in God. This had a huge influence on me. It has enabled me to think bigger in business and take risks that I probably would never have taken if I hadn’t witnessed what my parents overcame in the risks they took.

Growing up in New York I was a pretty shy kid (actually I still kind of am…). Partly because I was surrounded at school by very confident American kids! I loved working quietly behind the scenes. I preferred team sports like soccer, and you wouldn’t catch me in anything that would draw too much attention to myself, such as the school play or any performing arts.

Being the youngest of 3, I looked up to my older siblings and was influenced by both. When I was younger I distinctly remember wanting to be just like them – my brother Josh, who could achieve anything when he put his mind to it; and my sister Amee – who was quiet but strong, creative and independent. My family and I moved back to Sydney when I was 12 years old. Sixteen years later, I regularly crave cream cheese bagels and still have a bit of ‘NY attitude’ – which scares my husband…

When I met Nathan he was sitting across from me at our family table. I was 14 and he was 16. He asked what the “leaves” were on his plate, to which my mum replied, 'Rocket'. He helped himself to more chicken, and I secretly fell in love with him. We didn’t speak that night and we didn’t speak for another two years, until later when he stole my number from a friend of mine and texted me… “Hey, it's Nathan. Just wanted to say hi … so, 'Hi'!  Yes we still laugh about it today. And I am happy to say Nathan now likes rocket.

I know it sounds crazy, but it was a bit of a ‘love at first sight’ situation. I simply fell in love with him ,and I couldn’t really say why as we didn’t speak at all – I just … knew. We met when I was 14, started dating when I was 17, got married when I was 21, and I love him more now than ever. At the beginning the dream was ‘us’ – to get married and start a life together. As we grew together, the dream became ‘what can we achieve together?’. And eventually we figured that out, and in some ways, I guess, we are still fine- tuning that vision.

'Mr & Mrs White' was a gradual development. As Nathan finished off his shipwright apprenticeship and I completed my degree in Graphic Design, we started to get creative in other areas in our own time. I guess it coincided during our first year of marriage when we moved out together and wanted to create a home. Nathan started to make furniture for our place, and I started meddling with a sewing machine. We both discovered our love for raw materials and simple clean aesthetics. It took a while, but we had a 'light bulb' moment where we thought we could actually do this … together.

We started by renting out a very, very small workshop space. As things progressed we stepped out and rented a factory/showroom space in Mona Vale. At the time we had no jobs coming in that would enable us to pay for the rent, but we knew we had to take the leap in order to grow. Within a year and half we outgrew that space and moved into our current space, which is a Brooklyn-style warehouse situated in Brookvale, on the northern beaches of Sydney. We have both our factory and showroom/shop in the same building. We wanted to create an interactive environment where people could see the actual work being done. So as you browse our showroom, you can look through a big window into the factory where the furniture is being made.

When I had Selah I never knew I would love being a mum so much. I have loved seeing her grow into the beautiful young girl she is. She has been with us through all the stages of the business. It has been her home as much as it's been ours. She regularly wants to go visit Dad at the ‘factory’, and loves playing shop. “Sally the shopkeeper”, she calls herself.

When Oak came along we were shocked with the big mop of black hair she emerged with. She is the happiest little bub, smiling all the time. We have loved seeing the strong sisterly bond already forming between our two daughters.

I want my daughters to know they are loved, valued and they can be all that they dream.

 

Our everyday looks like…

I have the girls with me everyday, apart from Mondays and Tuesdays, when Selah is at pre-school. Nathan generally leaves around 5.30am, so I don’t ever see him in the morning. Depending on what I have on, I will either hang around home with the girls and get work done in-between feeding, grocery shopping, going to the park, etc. You know, the general house stuff.

If I need to go to the factory to do orders and business affairs, all three of us will head up there - Selah, Oak and myself. Generally, Selah entertains herself by playing shop, drawing or watching 'Peppa Pig', whilst Oak sleeps in a porta-cot we have set up in the office. I become this crazy person trying to package up the orders as fast as I can before Oak wakes up and/or Selah gets bored. The showroom is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Sometimes I get help with the girls, and other times they come along for the ride. It’s tiring, and tricky at times, but also fun! Nath comes home around 6pm, but has been known to come home in the early hours of the morning when business is really busy. He is the hardest worker I know!

I am so passionate about …

Family and the experiences we create together. So much of that happens in our home. Home is a special place for me … it’s a place to retreat to, a place to gain perspective, and a place to build relationships with my husband, kids and friends. I feel that our business is an extension of this passion. Making furniture and home wares is not only our craft, it is a way of life – a choice to live life simply, appreciating the little things and gaining perspective on the big things. The smell of timber, the touch of linen, that giddy feeling from seeing a concept sketch become something tangible – something we can sit on, eat on, organize and store things in, and most importantly – something that gathers people.

What does sacrifice and hard work mean to you?

Nothing wonderful comes about without both sacrifice and hard work. Sometimes people come into the showroom and say, “Wow! You’re so lucky to have this.” Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s all the hard work and sacrifice we have made to create it.

When and how do you find rest?

As most mums would agree, this is a hard one when you have kids. But Nathan and I decided that Sundays are family days. I don’t check emails, and try to stay off phones as much as possible. We go to church in the morning (I find rest in this alone), and then chill out at home and take it easy for the rest of the day.

What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?

To not become too anxious over mistakes. Mistakes keep you humble – mistakes make you better.

Summertime dream destination?

South of France. I went there when I was younger, and have been dying to go back ever since!

Greatest indulgence?

Chocolate and wine every night.

My mother always told me ...

My mother always taught me to make a house a home. She is the queen of hospitality. Growing up, she made every meal special and memorable. I have learnt so much from her.

Leather or linen?

You’re making me choose?! They go so beautifully together!
Leather!

New York City vibes, or beach culture?

I’m torn - my heart belongs to both.

And lastly, are there any tips on how to create a home with textiles and home wares, for WolfpackMrs mothers who work hard and don't have a lot of time to spend on making home look great?

Keep it simple. Go for the classic colours and fabrics that will wear in well and get better with age … like linen and leather. If you can’t afford it … don’t buy the cheap nasty stuff – save up for the quality pieces that will last a long time and won’t go out of fashion. You will spend less in the long run if you do it this way. The home is ever-evolving and changing so think long term by adding good quality and classic pieces when you can afford to do so. Don’t try to fill up your home all at once with what’s on ‘trend’ at the time. 

 

 

 

For more info on MrandMrsWhite head to:

MrandMrsWhite.net

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