We love gorgeous homewares that are ethically made, so you can imagine how excited we were to stumble across Rope Buoy. We chatted to brand founder and former fisherman, Neddy Van Dyck, about the story behind Rope Buoy, his journey to success and the tips and tricks he wants to share with other working parents.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
I came up with the idea when I was living in Western Australia. I was working with cray fisherman in the remote Abrolhos Islands, and started to weave items with the retired marine rope. I wanted to do something with the rope that was useful, but also meant that I could recycle the materials. First, I was weaving items for our home, but then I realised there was a market for these homewares. I can’t take all credit for my creations though – fisherman and sailors have been making functional items from rope since its origins. I have just combined concepts of weaving with rope work and a whole lot of trial and error.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
I have been making mats and baskets for around four years, but have only been operating as ‘Rope Buoy’ for about two months and have been open for online business for less than two weeks! I don’t know if the timing is ever ‘right’, as we have a six-month-old son and I’m also studying, but it’s definitely something I’m passionate about and enjoy doing. A push from my wife and her support in building a website and assisting with marketing has also been a huge help! It has been a good time to launch an environmentally ethical business like ours – there is a huge movement towards protecting and understanding the importance of our planet and specifically our oceans. Our product is made from 100% recycled materials.
How did you make your big break?
Rope Buoy has been consistently growing since I started making the items about four years ago. We have had a really positive response since officially launching our website in early October, but there is still a lot of room to grow!
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
None. Other than being a self-proclaimed ‘jack of all trades’, I started this with a background in Marine Science and a passion for the ocean. The business progressed naturally and slowly, and I suppose I just adapted to the evolution of what was unfolding in front of me.
What are the biggest challenges of being a dad and a businessman?
I think the hardest part about being a dad and a businessman is gauging an appropriate balance between the demands of your business and the demands of your child. There is always an element of compromise. Sometimes your goals or plans are dictated by what you can physically achieve within a couple of hours in the day, but you just do the best you can with what you have, and for me family comes first.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
I have been working hard for a while now, and this is likely at the expense of my life balance. It is with hesitance that I admit that this area of my life needs work – it’s been a little too long between surfs if I’m honest with you! It is definitely something that I acknowledge and hope to rectify as soon as the dust settles from the launch of the business. My advice to myself, as I am a culprit of this, is to stand back every now and again and assess what you are doing with objectivity to modify the work life balance.
What have you learnt since starting your own business?
I have learnt that anyone can do it. A small and simple business such as this is relatively easy to establish, it just takes a bit of time and effort. We are coming into a time now where entrepreneurial opportunities are endless and there has never been a better time to do something good for the environment. I’ve also learnt, along with my wife, about how to be more eco-friendly in our parenting style. Since starting Rope Buoy we’ve taken a good hard look at where we can do away with plastic in our own lives. We’ve decided to use an eco-friendly nappy brand and decompostable wipes. Once you start looking, it’s horrifying how much single use plastic we use on a daily basis.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
Spare time… what’s that? Ha! I love to freedive – to hold my breath, drop down, and silently take in the ocean’s magnificence. Its exercise, meditation and sightseeing all at the same time!
GIVEAWAY // Want to win a Rope Buoy piece of your very own? We have one beautiful mat valued at $149 to give away in your choice of colour – pick between Mahi Mahi aqua, Yellow Fin or Tiger Prawn orange – simply enter below to go into the draw to win! Competition closes Friday November 30 and only the winner will be notified. Good luck!
This competition has now closed.
Check out the entire Rope Buoy range right here // www.ropebuoy.bigcartel.com