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Featured Shop: Such Great Heights

Jun 26, 2013

by Ryan O'Connor and Jo Fahy

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Our names are Ryan O’Connor and Jo Fahy, and our shop is called Such Great Heights. We create a small range of products for children including wonder tents, clothing racks, adventure capes and merit badges. We work from our home studio in Adelaide, Australia, and are distracted regularly by our two beautiful young daughters.

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We have a vast and varied skill set in disciplines such as filmmaking (Ryan studied screen production at the Queensland College of Art), photography, advertising, woodworking, fashion design (I sold my own women’s fashion line to boutiques nationally) and pediatrics. When we started a family, we became disenchanted with the children’s products that were on the market. We saw a need for thoughtfully designed pieces, made from beautiful raw materials. With this in mind, we turned our creative focus inwards and began making playthings, furniture, and clothing for our girls. From these humble beginnings, the seeds for Such Great Heights were sown.

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For us, the design process begins with sourcing and pairing together incredible raw materials and experimenting with function, form, colors, and tactility. The manufacturing stage typically finds Ryan in the shed working with beautiful, sustainably sourced timbers, while I reinvent a myriad of fabrics on the sewing machine. We celebrate our finished product by styling it up, shooting some frames and then publishing.

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We are best known for our wonder tents, which are A-frame tents for children. It took a long time to develop and to source the best materials for this product. Our fondest part of the process was when Ryan joined a local woodworking community group to hone his technical skills. The group is called the Western Woodies, and is made up of mostly retired men who were only too glad to take Ryan under their wing and share their extraordinary wealth of knowledge over a cup of tea and a ham sandwich! The wonder tent takes a tremendous amount of work to make, but the finished product looks simple and effortless. It’s a product that we’ve poured our heart and soul into, and we think that’s the reason it has been so successful. Our tents are now in the homes of families as far afield as Switzerland, the UK and USA.

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Our business is only eight months young and our life has never been busier. We have many commitments and trying to find the right balance is proving tricky, but we are making progress. We have formed friendships, creative partnerships and business relationships with people from all corners of the globe. This has enriched our lives in so many ways and we feel truly blessed. Most importantly, we love that this business has brought creative practice into our everyday life. Knowing that our children are seeing us earning a living from this is incredibly rewarding. We have found our calling!

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Etsy has been invaluable for us. It was the first place that we displayed our finished wares to the big, wide world. In this respect, it allowed us to launch our business and take our range of products to market with minimal start-up costs. Within days of setting up our shop, we were taking customer and wholesale inquiries from all over the world. We feel honored to be a part of such an amazingly talented and diverse community of makers.

All photographs by Such Great Heights.

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