Conversations + Colour: Kirsten Devitt
Kirsten Devitt - tell us a little about yourself, and where you live: I am a designer and maker of jewellery and homewares and live with my partner, Richie and our freshly minted teenager, Clem, on our rural property in Stokers Siding, Northern NSW. It’s an incredibly beautiful part of the world and I feel very proud and privileged to have ended up here.
How did Each to Own come about? In 2009 I was running some shoe shops in Brisbane with my dad in our family business and when my son Clem was born, I found myself at home tinkering about making some pieces for friends and family.
People seemed to like them so I wondered if I could make it work as a business. I spoke to my Dad about leaving the family business and having a go on my own and he said “go for it”.
Each To Own was born on the dining room table as so many businesses were for women back then and all these years on it is still providing for us and making me happy.
You pioneered the passion for oversized earrings - which pair do you wear the most? Back in the day our Super Lush Drops were a really special piece to make - massive and glittery, they were super popular for weddings and special occasions. I still love chucking a pair of another ETO fav, Pom Pae Drops, on once in a while because they are bright and fun. But these days it’s simple Cutaway Studs mostly; or other people’s pieces - I love wearing Erin Lightfoot, Elke, Denz and Days of August earrings.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs? I love organic and geometric shapes and I love colour. I will often find inspiration in the materials around me - I love overlaying offcuts together in the studio and seeing the shapes that they form. I am really into doodling away on the iPad and transferring designs to painted wood lately. You can find me at Bunnings in a trance in front of the colour swatches dreaming up combos.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a glitter girl essentially, and that is where Each To Own found its following, but I am feeling a shift away from that lately. I really love working with painting wood panelling and whacking it on the cutter to see what works. I am entering a bit of a play phase but I really do still love our ETO Classics ranges because they work for our customers.
What’s been a highlight for Each to Own? I truly have to say that my greatest highlight is still being here every day. After the pandemic and the floods I really do feel like the highlight of this whole business is the fact that I still can open the doors (virtual and IRL) everyday and people still come. Sure we have worked with so many amazing people and seen our designs on loads of famous and fabulous people over the years but it is just being able to still be here after 13 years that blows my mind and makes me feel great joy.
Earlier this year you were instrumental in supporting your community following the floods in your area, Murwillumbah. Can you tell us about that? I was only instrumental in so far that I have so many amazing followers on social media so I was able to sound the call. People always want to help and if you give them a good opportunity to muck in, they will. A group of friends and I set up in my little art gallery, Small Works, and raised over $25,000 to provide new bedding and manchester for those in the community that lost everything in the devastating floods that hit our region earlier this year. We also had a free laundry service that was run by volunteers. It was amazing what lengths people will go to to help others in need. It was a really beautiful thing.
What’s been a pivotal moment since the floods? I’m a bit teary as I write this because our region is still struggling greatly with the impact that the floods had, and keep having. We were minimally affected as a family and business compared to a lot of people, with only a little water through our premises, but everywhere around you there are still broken things.
Broken infrastructure, broken systems, broken hearts…there is a real reckoning of what was lost that still occurs most days. But a lot was achieved also. Humans are amazing creatures. But sometimes you wonder how much people and communities can take. The floods were a mighty crescendo to the couple of really hard years of the pandemic and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t struggled with what happens now.
I have definitely slowed down a lot since the floods. I am just not able to run at the pace that I was. Things that seemed important before just aren’t as much anymore. I am really focused on downsizing my businesses and my life in general to focus on my family and my friends. The sun shines most days now and I think we all just take solace from that while it is here with us. There is not much I feel can be controlled anymore.
Beauty: I would like to have a time machine for my beauty essential because I would like to go back and drink more water, wear more sunscreen and put the bloody booze down in my 20s BUT I had a lot of fun so maybe not!
I always bragged that I was a “soap & water” gal until I turned 50 and realised that I was kidding myself, so Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50 everyday and Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermafoliant twice a week. Not sure if anything works wonders but I’m getting used to myself after all these years so it doesn’t matter much. Oh and Pretty Woman bath salts from Ohh De Naturale because I soak in that most nights with a gin and love myself for it (as opposed to soak myself in gin which could be the next stage of life).
Wardrobe item: Togs. Togs are my obsession. I swim 1km 5 days a week and I am a short, wide lady so I am REALLY into togs that fit me. Also going through a linen duster coat obsession at the moment - I love that “did I just roll out of bed?/none of your business” vibe.
Pantry: Pickles - I must own all the pickles, gherkins, cornichons and onions in the world. I’m sorry but I can’t leave any for you.
Last fridge and pantry clear out yielded so many bottles and jars that I had to have a little bit of a chat to myself about what was normal and what was Crazy Pickle Lady territory.
Breakfast venue: Keith in Murwillumbah - because it is owned by people that I love, it’s where I go with the people that I love and it has Portuguese tarts that are so good I would like to be buried with one…or a half a dozen.
Dinner date: Local pizza restaurant in Murwillumbah, Barrels with all my little family and whatever mates are strolling down the main drag - amazing pizza and best service to make you feel at home.
Song on repeat: Daniel Johns “When We Take Over” - lots of ugly crying to that lately - it is just so beautiful.
Instagram account: @greedy.peasant - oh the joy this account gives me…it's my happiest place.
Fashion inspiration: Any label who is inclusive and lets all body shapes and sizes join in the fun, but if I had to pick one person as fashion inspiration I would always pick Jenny Kee. In fact I have a little mantra that I use when I am picking colour combos - “What would Jenny do?”
You’d rather be…
Coast or city? For holidays I love the city - I live somewhere very quiet and rural so I need to whoop it up in the big smoke every now and again. But for living it’s the beautiful Far North Coast of NSW for me, thanks.
Vegemite or peanut butter? This is very HARD. I’m going to say peanut butter because I have just discovered that you are actually allowed to have it WITH butter when you are a grown up and it's just the most decadent, unctuous, luscious thing.
Summer or winter? Winter, Winter, Winter - every single time. I am a bit of a Sweaty Betty so I love the cool. Boots, hats, scarves, lots of dressing up. Summer is a living nightmare. Summer just makes me cry.
Best advice you’ve ever received? My dad used to say “You already know what to do; trust yourself” and that mostly rings true. I miss him terribly as he was great to chat with about business and life.
Favourite Little Tienda piece? It is anything La Vie for me! Holy heck, those checked fabrics! I am particularly in love with the Martha dress but I swear that I love them all. I admire Em and her incredible ability to kick goals every range and every season. Plus there is something for everyone and every BODY…and there always has been right from day one of Little Tienda.
In one month Kirsten Devitt will be… hopefully packing lots of orders for her new business, Dishy - beautiful design inspired tea towels that raise money for causes close to our artists hearts. A long time dream of mine that is finally coming true.
Photography by Nat McComas.