In Her Shoes: Lotte & Lia-Belle

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are excited to be donating 100% of all online sales made on International Women’s Day (Sunday March 8th) to UN Women. As a small business designed by women and made for women, IWD is both a sombre reminder of the obstacles and inequalities that continue to colour the realities of many women across the globe and a celebration of the achievements of women both near and far.
 
We count ourselves lucky at St. Agni to be continually surrounded by a network of powerful, multifaceted and insightful women in the creative hub of Byron Bay. We could think of no better way to honour the inner strength and capacity of all things female on the eve of International Women’s Day than by catching up with Lia-belle King and Lotte Barnes of Worn Store to chat business, motherhood, sustainability and ritual. 
 
As in Nature, the concept of Worn Store germinated from a single idea. Lia-Belle and Lotte were impelled by the idea of a single chair — sustainably sourced, hand-crafted by artisans and minimalist in its design. 
 
As with all great ideas that are put into practice, Worn Store’s Sling Chair kick-started a lifestyle concept that has grown organically to include home accessories and clothing with the ebbs and flows of the couple’s inner tide. 
 
Like Lia-Belle King and Lotte Barnes themselves, Worn Store’s impeccably crafted products are stripped of artifice. There is something incredibly humbling about sitting in the presence of a Worn Store piece that embraces variation in grain and texture and bears the mark of its maker within every corner. 
 
We are continually inspired and reinvigorated anew by Lia-Belle and Lotte’s commitment to sustainable practices and community and how this ideology translates in their work.
 
 
In your own words, please tell us what you do…
 
We own and run the sustainable design brand, Worn Store. We’re also mothers to our nearly three-year daughter Ophelia. Lia-Belle is also an Interior stylist consultant & Lotte is a Vedic Meditation Teacher.
 
Please describe the essence of Worn Store 
 
Worn Store is integrity, it’s peaceful and fluid and intelligent and is constantly evolving in line with the energy and people involved in its day-to-day operations.
 
A Worn Store product is a harmonic exchange from the empowered craftsmen or women, to the conscious person who orders online. Both strive to live and practice more environmentally sound, more self-guided and more long-term solutions to suit their needs in their work and home life. But Worn Store is more than just a product, it’s a totem whispering the message of ethical, equal and environmentally empowered design. 
 
Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it?
 
Originally, Lotte grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and Lia-Belle grew up on a farm on the central coast. We both moved to the city during our early 20’s which is where we met each other through mutual friends. Early on in our relationship we both made the call to close our businesses, Lotte owned a creative agency and Lia-Belle owned a fashion PR agency, and embarked on a few months of travel to Bali, India and Sri Lanka. We ended up deciding to live in Bali with nothing more than the one bag we had each packed for the journey. During our time in Bali we started Worn from the simple concept of making a chair sustainably, by hand, chemical-free and in limited quantities. We wanted to educate people about the practice of slow production, which isn’t actually ‘slow’ production – it’s how long things actually take to make when made properly and when not harming the environment or those making the chair, in a bid to get it made faster and cheaper. 
From the release of our first chair, the Sling Chair, our business grew pretty quickly and within 1 year we had an entire collection of chairs as well as resort clothing collection and baby on the way! 
We decided to relocate back to Australia to start our family and chose Byron Bay for the conscious community who live here as well as the climate.
 
Which element of work do you thrive off the most?
 
Although we both carry out different roles within the business, we both thrive on the creative process the most. The design process can be tedious and time consuming so when you finally get the samples or prototypes, and then get to style them, shoot them and release them to the public, it creates such a buzz of new energy. 
 
Lia-Belle: I also like the ongoing recreation of Worn, the brand as it grows and matures. Changing our logo design was something we recently worked on and I feel it better reflects the brand where it is now in its lifespan. It’s sophisticated, elegant and understated. All the traits our clothing and home objects aspire to be.
 
 
 What are three things that are inspiring you right now?
 
Lia-Belle:
 
Reading ‘Daybook’ by Anne Truitt
Portraits of Interiors by Axel Vervoordt
My daughter
Jil Sander circa 1996
 
Sorry that’s four!
 
Lotte:
 
Energetic Breathwork and Ice Baths (Dr John Amaral & Wim Hoff)
Mount Sunny & Museum of Peace & quiet L.A based businesses. 
EARTH Radio on Spotify 
 
 
Lia-Belle, you consulted the interior of the recent St. Agni Airbnb and Byron Bay Boutique, can you share the creative process behind this project?  
 
Working with Lara on this project was such a joy. It was truly collaborative in every sense of the word and my contribution was to assist Lara to create a space that was calm, elegant and reflected the aesthetic direction of St Agni. 
 
After the space had been designed by architects, Lara and I sat down and room by room created visual mood boards for each space. We made lists for the furniture and soft furnishings and then I would source the pieces and present them to Lara, sometimes via Instagram at 11pm... Piece by piece we created the entire space and it was such an organic and easy process. I think it helped that Lara and I are both such visual people - we both know what we like and were very much on the same page when it came to the design direction. The dining chairs were the only thing that took time for Lara to come around to, but there was a real trust between us and she took onboard my suggestion and eventually bought the chairs even though at first, they weren’t what she had in mind. I think great partnerships should push each other out of comfort zones and gently evolve each person to see and experience an aesthetic differently. I really appreciated how much trust Lara had in my decisions and suggestions, as well as the opportunity to be involved with the project. 
 
Do you have a morning ritual? 
 
Lotte: My non-negotiable morning ritual is 20 minutes of Vedic Meditation and some energetic breathwork, but when exactly that happens depends on who is working, what Opi is doing, and what our daily plans are, but I always make these a ritual in my day. Making coffee for Lia each morning is also an act of love and enjoyment I’ve created into my morning rituals and starting my mornings outside with Opi, be it sipping tea on the back deck or standing barefoot in the grass together. 
 
I (Lia-Belle) find I need to get ready for my day as alone as possible. It helps me to gather myself and mentally prepare. Having a shower, dressing, drinking my coffee in bed are all acts of inward reflection before a day of looking after Opi or working in the business, both of which offer no real respite. Lotte in contrast loves sharing her early mornings with Opi, watching the sunrise and leaning into the day together before it’s her turn to meditate – where she really gets her self reflection and quiet time. I’m so glad she’s a morning person because I’m really not!
 
On an ideal morning Lotte will get up with Ophelia around 6/6.30am, and have breakfast together and play outside until about 7.30am when Lotte will make a coffee for me and bring it in to bed. I’ll have a bit of quiet time, sipping away, waking up slowly on my own.
After I’m up, I’ll take Opi so Lotte can meditate. Children can make mornings unpredictable but we’re lucky that we can surrender into whatever harmony or chaos presents on any given day and getting to work late, or working from home is always an option.
 
 
If you could give your younger self any advice based on everything you know now, what would it be?
 
Lia-Belle: I have thought about this question a lot, and every time I consider it I think of something different I would say, so today, I will say this…
I’m a worrier, I get anxiety, I definitely micro-manage and overthink far too many things. As I am getting older, I’m learning not to worry so much, to surrender into the possibilities of the universe, and trust that this road, is the one I’m supposed to be walking down. I am listening more keenly to my intuition, and realizing that diet, exercise and meditation are the three major factors to unleashing my anxiety and fostering inner harmony. Last week I started dancing again, something I practised professionally for 15 years in my earlier life. I remember the joy dancing brought my soul and those first two classes felt like I was coming back to me. I never thought I’d be going back to dance at 35, but, here I am, and it’s incredible.
 
Lotte: I look back at my younger self and am really proud of the courage I had in expressing who I was and being truly comfortable in my own skin. I always followed my heart and made bold and fearless decisions. I think if I had to offer any advice to my younger self, it would be to have learnt to meditate younger and to start my spiritual journey sooner, as that path has been the most expansive, fulfilling and healing. That said, I believe whole-heartedly that everything unfolds as it should and when it should. That life happens for you, not to you.