United Kingdom

My lightbulb moment: Furniture maker Jessica Stern reveals the inspiration behind her company

Jessica Stern, 29, co-founded vintage-style locker company Mustard Made in 2018 with her sister, Becca. They are stocked by Liberty, Urban Outfitters, Oliver Bonas and boutique stores around the world. She lives in London with her partner, who works for the company.

My Elder sister Becca and I have always been close but in 2012, when I was 22, she moved to Australia and we could see each other only once a year.

We were two sisters living on opposite sides of the planet. I’d fly over to spend time with her and her family. Once, I even took a six-month sabbatical from my job as a wedding dress buyer for BHS and stayed for five months.

Jessica Stern, 29, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed the inspiration for Mustard Made came from her sister collecting vintage metal lockers

In 2017, I went over to meet her new baby, Ellis. One day we walked by the ocean and talked about starting a business together, as we’d spoken about for years.

Becca collected vintage metal lockers. She had found some in antique stores and even one on the side of the road. A very cool 1960s American heritage locker in blush pink sparked our imaginations, and we wondered if we could create our own line.

We started looking for a manufacturer who could bring the vision to life. Becca found a factory in China and we began discussions with them.

Eventually, Becca, her new baby, our dad and I flew out there and got to see our very first samples. It was magic.

We booked a space at a trade show in Sydney (I took a holiday from my job, as a lingerie buyer for Primark) and borrowed props and cars and slept on a friend’s floor.

In four days we had 50 stockists come on board, which gave us confidence that there was a market for our products.

Chic: Shorty, £129, mustardmade.co.uk

Six months later, I quit my job and we launched in the UK.

Designs now come in four different shapes and sizes and nine colours to suit any home or room. They have adjustable shelves, rails and handy hooks. They arrive flat-packed and are easy to assemble.

I love using the lockers at home for clothes, kitchenware, linen and even to store my ironing board.

We photograph the lockers in beautiful, real-life homes and love creating imagery to show how they can be used. Our bestseller is blush pink, followed by sage.

In lockdown, demand has been incredible. Sales have doubled from 2019 and we plan to launch in the U.S. next year.

Best of all, I get to talk to my sister every day. 

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