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Aussies can't get enough of homewares by First Nations brand Emro Designs

Phoebe Blogg -

Whilst there are several First Nations fashion brands within Australia, homewares is one sector First Nations creatives are slowly yet surely venturing into – one of those talented creatives being Emma Rolls of Emro Designs.

Recognised by several interior stylists for its contemporary spin on community design and culture, Aboriginal-owned and operated homewares brand Emro Designs has had nothing but success.

Initially launched in 2020 by founder and proud Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls, Emro Designs actually started by selling solely floor rugs, before then going on and selling homewares pieces such as pillows, wallpaper and more. Similar to others within the community and creative industry, Rolls noticed that when it came to First Nations-focused interiors, the retail market was certainly lacking.

"Back in 2020 we started just with rugs in only 3 designs and feel like that first 12 months was such a fast year of growth for us. We definitely concentrated on making a mark in the Education space and then felt like we evolved more into a homewares brand in our second year. I think the turn into Homewares came from a personal love of homewares and interiors, and recognising there is such a gap in that area with First Nations businesses," said Rolls.

"Our current products we sell are rugs, both nylon which are great for Early Learning Centres and Schools, and our natural range of wool and jute rugs. We also have the ability to custom make a selection of designs in our wool rugs. These can be customised with colourways and sizes of the rug. We also sell cushions, picnic rugs, recycled plastic mats, and Wallpaper for both residential and commercial settings."

Emro Designs founder Emma Rolls. (Image: Tanika Blair Photography)

When it comes to what Indigenous artists Emro Designs collaborates with for their product range, Rolls confirms that the process of selecting and finding artists has been made easier thanks to social media, having the ability to view and connect with selected artists instantly.

"Social media has been such a game changer for being able to find artists to work with. I'm not just drawn to one particular style, my eye is drawn to many different styles of Aboriginal art and colour palettes, and I know when I am drawn to an artist I am already visualising what their design would look like on one of our products, whether that's on a rug, wallpaper or a cushion," she said.

"We are very fortunate to have worked with such incredible artists over the years, and proud to say those we started with on our couple of products in the early days, are still with us today and we have been able to expand our range with those artists and more."

To ensure that the stories of selected Indigenous artists are continually respected and shared, all artists receive a commission of profit from each item sold, to further help them to continue painting and sharing the stories which have been passed down from generation to generation.

Emro Designs pillows. (Image: Tanika Blair Photography)

From working at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for more than a decade to stepping into her role as brand founder full-time, Rolls is thrilled to be able to bring more to the business and watch it develop further.

"I was working at an ACCHO for 11 years and loved it, but knew I needed to do something for myself and I knew I still wanted to work with my culture and be able to share it on a broader scale. Also being able to have my husband step into the business and leave his job was a dream that we made into reality late last year," she said.

Emro Designs rug. (Image: Instagram @emrodesigns)

When it comes to what's next for Emro Designs, Rolls says that whilst her business did do a soft launch into the commercial space last year, in 2024 herself and her husband hope to grow both the brand and its product range.

"We are working with some new artists on some new designs, and have a couple of new products planned for this year too. We did a soft launch into the commercial space last year, and this year we would love to get a few commercial projects under our belt with our wallpaper and custom rugs. We can't wait to share more," she said.

From a passion for incorporating more authentic First Nations resources into early education to a successful homewares brand for people wanting to incorporate storytelling designs into their homes, Emro Designs has secured itself a flourishing First Nations business.

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