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


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

  • Jessica Stern, 29, lives in London and co-founded Mustard Made in 2018
  • Inspiration came from her older sister Becca, who collected vintage metal cabinets
  • Sales have doubled since 2019 and the pair plan to launch in the US next year

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

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

We were two sisters who lived on opposite sides of the planet. I would fly over to hang out with her and her family. At one point I even took a six month sabbatical from my job buying wedding dresses for BHS and stayed for five months.

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

In 2017 I went to her new baby, Ellis. One day we were walking along the seashore and talking about starting a business together, as we had mentioned for years.

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

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

Eventually Becca, her new baby, our father and I flew there and were able to see our first samples. It was magic.

We booked a spot at a fair in Sydney (I was on vacation from lingerie shopper for Primark) and borrowed props and cars and slept on a friend's floor.

Within four days, 50 specialist dealers came on board, which gave us the confidence that there was a market for our products.

Chic: Shorty, £ 129, mustardmade.co.uk

Chic: Shorty, £ 129, mustardmade.co.uk

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

The designs are now available in four different shapes and sizes and nine colors 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, kitchen utensils, laundry and even to store my ironing board.

We take pictures of the lockers in beautiful, real homes and love taking pictures to show how they can be used. Our bestseller is blush pink, followed by sage.

In lockdown, the demand was incredible. Sales have doubled since 2019 and we plan to launch in the US next year.

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

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