5 Minutes with Nicolle Sullivan, Founder of CULTIVER

5 Minutes with Nicolle Sullivan, Founder of CULTIVER

Jun 22, 2021

Since launching in 2012, Sydney-based homewares brand CULTIVER has become a go-to source for beautiful, thoughtfully sourced linen.

A mutual love of textiles and colour has seen GlobeWest and Cultiver collaborate on many bedroom photo shoots, so we were thrilled when the creative behind the brand, Founder Nicolle Sullivan agreed to share her inspirations, business journey and take us inside her home.

Pictured: Nicolle Sullivan with our Juno Florence 2 Seater Sofa, Kennedy Ribbed Round Ottoman | CULTIVER Freya Linen Throw in Fawn, Talik Velvet Cushions in Cream

When did you first develop an interest in textiles?

I grew up with a strong appreciation and love for quality textiles and fabrics, having spent a lot of my childhood travelling to visit family in Eastern Europe. It’s that exposure to a culture that values heirlooms, and travel in general, that have always been a source of inspiration for me and what I do now.


Who or what inspires you?

People who are creative in how they run their business, and travel. Plus you can find inspiration everywhere - in magazines, galleries, the things you watch and people you meet.


Can you please tell us a bit about your business journey and how it has influenced your work today?

I started CULTIVER while I was on maternity leave from my prior career in banking. I’d already decided I wanted to make a career change, and it just felt like the right time.

I was an early adopter of online shopping, and have always loved textiles. Starting the business was really the coming together of those two things. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t, and had started to notice the best eCommerce websites were offering a more curated, boutique presentation.

With CULTIVER, I wanted to offer a new way to shop for the home, and almost a decade later we still consider this with every decision we make

Pictured: CULTIVER Sydney Flagship Store | Photography by Chris Warnes | For a similar bedhead click here | CULTIVER Set of 2 Linen Pillowcases in Mustard and Smoke Grey, Linen Flat Sheet in Smoke Grey and Natural

Pictured: CULTIVER Bed Linen styled by GlobeWest for Collections 2022 | Product: Hugo Dune Bedhead, Artie Open Bedsides, Tepih Neptune Rug (in Ochre), Lorne Urn Table Lamp, Lorne Totem Vase & Cross Vase, Hugo Square and Bolster Cushions and Kennedy Rectangle Cushion.

Pictured: Ethnicraft Spindle Bench | CULTIVER Freya Linen Throw in Blush

Pictured: Juno Florence 2 Seater Sofa | CULTIVER Freya Linen Throw in Fawn, Talik Velvet Cushion in Fawn

Pictured: Nicolle Sullivan with our Juno Florence 2 Seater Sofa | Image supplied via CULTIVER

What would be your advice for someone starting their own business?

You hear only too often business owners admit “if I’d known what was involved, I never would have started,” which in some ways I’d have to agree with. It’s the blissful ignorance of knowing how deep you’ll get that actually enables you to start in the first place. With that in mind, my advice would be, if you are passionate and prepared to put in the work, just get started. Take it step by step and learn things one at a time. Be patient.


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A piece of advice I regularly refer to is “identify the problem”. Running a business often feels like a non-stop process of solving and overcoming problems, so it is really useful to be skilled at identifying what the problem really is. Often the thing you get frustrated or caught up with is really just a symptom, which can be alleviated by solving the underlying problem.


What's your creative process for CULTIVER?

We are continually thinking about our customers' daily rituals and how we can elevate them throughout our development and creative process. Mindfulness can have a significant positive impact in our lives, and our hope is that our products can contribute to small moments of appreciation everyday.

When creating and developing new pieces, we always ask ourselves: is this the best version of what it is? Will it last? Will it be enjoyable to use? And is it beautiful? By keeping our range tightly edited and curated, we can ensure our products really deliver in terms of design and usability, and enrich people’s daily lives.

Pictured: CULTIVER Bed Linen (as above in Forest) styled by GlobeWest for Collections 2021 | Product: Hugo Ridge Bed Head, Willow Woven Bedside & Tepih Folk Rug

Pictured: Juno Florence 2 Seater Sofa & Kennedy Ribbed Round Ottoman | Image supplied via CULTIVER

How does a typical day for you unfold and what helps you unwind?

My morning routine is pretty minimal as I have two kids to get organised before I leave the house. My husband makes me a beautiful coffee each morning, and then it's a quick commute to the CULTIVER office. I spend most of my days talking with my team in our open plan office, working on new products and opportunities, discussing ways to surprise and delight our customers, and troubleshooting ways to improve our shipping service, logistics and website experience. Everyday is different, but that’s what I love.

My family help me unwind at the end of the day. I get home about 6pm and have dinner with my husband and spend some time with my two daughters before they go to bed. Then I love sitting down with a good book - it's the best way to stop me getting sucked into an Instagram or internet spiral!


You recently chose some GlobeWest pieces for your home, can you tell us a bit about your selections and your home interior style?

My home is a Federation period house with traditional features like dark wooden floors, mouldings and cornice detailing, so I like to balance it with modern textures and furnishings. My interior style is fairly classic, but I do also like to add something bold and unexpected with colour or scale. I was drawn to the Amelie Aurora Buffet for brass handles which are oversized and richly metallic - it is the piece everyone comments on first when they come into the room. The Juno Florence Sofa has classic and clean lines, but the Boucle makes it modern. I also love the complement of the velvet, boucle and linen textures amongst the seating pieces we have mixed in the room.

Pictured: Juno Florence 2 Seater Sofa, Sketch Sloopy 1 Seater Sofas, Kennedy Ribbed Round Ottoman & Amelie Aurora Buffet (sold out) click here for similar | CULTIVER Freya Linen Throw in Fawn, Talik Velvet Cushions in Cream

What’s next for CULTIVER?

There are so many exciting things that have been going on behind the scenes here at CULTIVER. We are about to launch an exciting collaboration that will expand our offering, as well as some new products to complement our existing range. We’ve also expanded our team so much that I think we may have already outgrown our current office space, so a new CULTIVER HQ might be in the not so distant future.


Sydney Flagship Store: 643 Military Road, Mosman, NSW 2088

Melbourne Concept Store: 499 Malvern Rd, South Yarra, VIC 3141

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