My name is Marie-Nicole Roberts, and my home-based studio is located on a sheep farm in rural NSW, just outside of Yass, Australia. I create guitar cases from old blankets, as well as totes, satchels, iPad and notebook sleeves with the remnants, which are adorned in kangaroo leather. I also make a range of braided wristbands and leather cuffs that are hand-stamped with thought-provoking or inspiring quotes. My shop is called By Marie Nicole.
When I was young I loved to draw, sew, and (most of all) capture images with a camera, but I was not sure how I could earn an income through photography. So, I went to uni and did a BA in visual arts and design to broaden my scope. After school I started a photography business and did that for nine years, but when I had kids I wanted to be home more. That’s when I opened my Etsy shop, and By Marie-Nicole was born.
I love music and supporting the indie music industry, which is why I choose to focus on guitar cases. Playing the guitar is a pastime of mine, and while I am in awe of all the musical talent out there, I have no desire to be a musician. I do what I love and enjoy sharing it with my customers. My work is about authenticity, not keeping up with anyone else and what they are doing.
Custom orders make up a big part of my business because there are so many different shapes and sizes of guitars out there. The beautiful thing about custom guitar cases is that the buyer gets to choose their own blanket. I send 3-6 options based on our interactions, and more often than not they end up choosing the one that I thought they would. It’s a fun process.
When I’m not on the farm, you’ll find me scouring op shops for blankets and watch faces or at the tannery sifting through offcuts of kangaroo leather and cow hide, selecting the ones with the most character. I only purchase supplies in small runs, so when I get low on materials, it’s time for another trip to the tannery. Part of the joy that comes from my work is discovering materials to work with; I enjoy reusing items in ways that are unexpected. I am not a fan of waste, and I think that as a society our current lifestyle – being so detached from the impact our habits have on the environment – makes it easy to maintain an ignorant perspective on this issue. My resourceful, self sufficient, mend-and-make-do upbringing has definitely influenced the way I live now.
Etsy has been an amazing platform to launch my business. I love what I do, and I never want to retire. I believe that stimulating the mind and body is what fosters happiness. It keeps us young and enables us to create treasured memories along the way. This business ties all my loves together and has taught me that there is no set road to travel or rules to follow. Sometimes you just need to make your own rules – rules that suit your lifestyle and your values.
All photographs by By Marie Nicole.