Oct 12, 2020
Long term GlobeWest stockist the Banyan Tree may have been forced to temporarily close their Camberwell, Victorian store doors due to government restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped husband and wife owners Melinda and Simon Morley continuing their 25 year long commitment to delivering beautiful interiors for their customers.
We caught up with the resilient small business owners between virtual styling and phone ordering services to talk about their family-run business, a shared passion for interiors & what's next for their impressive showcase of beautiful furniture and homewares inspired by Scandinavian design.
All photography supplied by The Banyan Tree unless otherwise denoted.
Pictured: Melinda & Simon | Product: Willow Woven Buffet
Tell us about your business – as it is now, and your business journey:
We had been married for a couple of years when we opened our first stores in Elwood and Hawthorn. We had a long-standing passion for interior decoration and design, so it made sense for us to take the leap. Shortly after opening our first two stores we expanded our business, not just by adding new stores in St Kilda, South Yarra and Carlton, but by embarking on the exciting and challenging journey of wholesaling our own range of indoor and outdoor furniture. Watching our sketches come to life and then transform the spaces of our clients was an absolute dream come true and we absolutely loved that phase of our business!
We decided to focus on retail and move our then 5 stores into our current Camberwell showroom, with a massive floor space that allows us to display our vast scope of products ranging from Made in Melbourne to international designs, with offerings of homewares, soft furnishings, gifts and furniture, whilst also operating our online store and having extra space for storage!
As a family owned and operated business, we are very personable and understand that functional design isn’t a one-size fits all. What sets us apart is that we will go the extra mile to provide an exceptional experience for our customers. We are thrilled when our projects come together and the collaboration with our clients show such great results.
Your store is a space that inspires contemporary living and timeless Scandinavian design for both Melbourne locals and visitors alike – who and what inspires you?
The Nordic style is definitely an inspiration. We love how clever their use of light is. Clean lines, simplistic aesthetic, blending form with purpose! My great grandmother was Danish and I lived there for a year many moons ago, so I guess that’s where my love for the pared back Scandinavian look comes from.
The colours of the Australian outdoors are also a big source of inspiration for us! We love the relaxed Australian coastal look, so much so that we have decorated our home with pieces that reflect our casual lifestyle and shared love for Scandinavian design.
Pictured: Elle Slim Console
We love working with and supporting local artists and artisans, showcasing Australian-made pieces such as our extensive range of artwork wherever possible, whilst also sourcing ethically produced and sustainably sourced furniture, always aiming to choose pieces that meet our highest quality standards.
What’s your professional background? Specifically, how has it influenced your business?
Simon and I love interior decorating! We honestly can’t recall a time when we were not in retail or wholesale, so I think it’s safe to say that The Banyan Tree is our professional background. The business was born 25 years ago out of our shared passion for interior styling, but over the years we realised that what we are most passionate about is helping families of all shapes and sizes transform their spaces into homes. We truly understand that what looks good in one home, might not in another; so we always try to think of the long-term and what suits their lifestyle best, whilst going above and beyond to provide an exceptional customer service experience.
Pictured: Melinda & Simon at The Banyan Tree store
When did you first develop an interest in interior design and style?
Melinda - As a child, my mother was always up for decorating and was particularly good at DIY projects - my entire bedroom was wallpapered in white and navy Laura Ashley. My entire bedding set was in Laura Ashley fabric. We even made photo frames with leftover fabric! Florals may not be so prevalent in our design style nowadays, but they definitely made a big impression on me as a child, so I still love to add a little floral touch, whether it is in a fabric, a lifestyle book or a beautiful bunch!
Pictured: Elle Pipe Oval Coffee Table (colour no longer available)
Simon - I've always been hands on and interested in how things are made. My first job was building boats! I spent a lot of time in our warehouse making Dining Tables and designing pieces for customers.. My mum had great taste in interiors and made beautiful homes. I was very lucky to grow up with beautiful furnishings and fabrics. I definitely learnt a lot from her.
How does a typical day for you unfold?
Very different at the moment compared to normal times, spending most of the time on the phone or Zoom meetings, helping clients transform their spaces with our Virtual Interior Consultations, putting together mood boards and proposals, selecting fabrics, combining colours and textures, unboxing new goodies, curating collections… It may be quiet foot traffic wise, but it’s definitely busy! And we love that
One of the things we love most about our job is having the chance to visit our clients when they book a Home Consult. Getting to know them and understand their needs, and from there, offering the interior design solutions that suit their lifestyle best. So of course we felt really disappointed to know that we could not do that for a while, and we had to come up with a way to fix it!
The amazingly supportive response we received was absolutely overwhelming. We've had virtual consults nearly every day since we launched in late March, and we can't even begin to explain how much we've enjoyed and appreciated every single one of them. Having the opportunity to virtually tour our clients’ homes across the country, staying close while isolating and helping them make the right design decisions for their families, it has been an absolute game changer for us! And it's certainly something we want to continue doing for our local and interstate clients.
What’s your favourite GlobeWest piece/collection and why?
It is so hard to choose! So I will cheat and name three of our current favourites: the stunning Orlando round ottoman with its inviting accents, clean lines and beautifully textured upholstery; the Sinclair one seater sofa chair with its comforting curves boasting relaxation; and last but certainly not least: the entire Tully collection with its striking personality, combining curves, lines and textures!
Pictured: Sinclair 1 Seater Sofa
What’s next for The Banyan Tree?
2020 has certainly been a challenging year, but we are so lucky to have such a committed and talented team that has gone above and beyond to help us navigate through these difficult times and come out even stronger! We firmly believe that times of uncertainty can become windows of opportunity, and that’s how we’ve chosen to see this time with closed doors: as an opportunity to ‘take stock’ of our business, to grow, enhance and make improvements, and to prepare ourselves for when restrictions are lifted.
Everyday is different here at The Banyan Tree, and we love that! Every client gives us an opportunity to create a new, exciting space and we love finding the perfect pieces for every home, even if it’s virtually for the time being. But we cannot wait to open our doors again and welcome our clients with a big, genuine smile! Nothing beats the interaction with our customers in store, and I certainly miss being out and about with styling consults.
We are taking all the necessary measures to ensure that our Camberwell showroom is a safe environment for both our #banyanteam and community. In the meantime, we love how busy our phone lines have been with home-bound clients wanting to make their homes more enjoyable and calming, and we are so grateful to have such a supportive community that shops small and supports local business. We cannot wait to continue in this journey with them!
Pictured: Elle Round Marble Nest Coffee Tables
Small Victorian Retail Businesses like The Banyan Tree are having a challenging 2020
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Contact The Banyan Tree to request a Virtual Consultation or place a phone order
Phone: (03) 9809 4955
Store Address: 1359 Toorak Rd, Camberwell VIC 3124
(Temporarily closed - learn more here)
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