Newcastle entrepreneur Rebecca Stern launches chic lockers with Mustard brand

Sister act: Rebecca Stern, right, and her sister Jessica, left, have founded the home decor brand Mustard.
Sister act: Rebecca Stern, right, and her sister Jessica, left, have founded the home decor brand Mustard.

THERE’S a sizeable difference between teaspoons and industrial lockers, but Rebecca Stern has leapt from one to the other with aplomb.

Stern has shelved her respected creative label House of Bec, which sold hand-crafted and repurposed cutlery, to launch her new brand Mustard with her UK-based sister, Jessica.

Mustard’s first effort is “soft industrial” lockers made from powder-coated steel and in six colours that are made for kids rooms, offices and general living.

Stern has always been a collector of vintage lockers and a “thing” for metal furniture and, after having her second son a year ago, realised she didn’t want to be in her studio hammering away at jewellery.

“It got to a point where I liked handmade things but my strength was in design, concept and ideas, and I love running a creative business,” she says.

 She and Jessica, a fashion buyer, did lots of research into how to make lockers more functional before heading to China to find a manufacturer.

“It was basically taking an original design and making it better suited for modern times,” says Stern, adding that she worked to “push the parameters of possibility” with the manufacturer to achieve a design aesthetic for the Australian market.

She said the Chinese town where her manufacturer is based specialises in lockers, and she watched as workers cut and shaped the lockers every step of the way through production.

 The signature locker is the Skinny, a tall locker with clothes rail and adjustable shevling, and the second locker is Shorty, which can work as a bedside table or side table or office storage. 

Wholesale and retail preorders for the lockers are moving swiftly, though Stern hadn’t trademarked her business until she and Jessica went the premium boutique trade event Life Instyle in Sydney last month.

“I just though if it’s a disaster I don’t want to spend all that money, I thought if we get the orders we’ll set up the business, and we had such a positive reaction –  so many people saying it was the best thing there,” she says.

 London-raised Stern says the brand name is a nod to her love for the colour, the condiment and the potential to grow the business. In fact new accessories are afoot, so too plans for a UK launch.

“I feel like I have learnt so much from it, I started it as a broke single mother and my life has really changed,” says Stern.

“I kept saying to myself ‘If I can make a living out of selling unwanted old cutlery then surely I could make it selling something else as well.

“It’s a bigger leap and bigger risks but it’s just how I do things.”