Beauty, functionality, and sustainability are three elements that Business & Pleasure Co.™️ founders Ollie Edwards and Lachlan Leckie always consider when creating a new product. The two have a dedication to premium materials and the craftsmanship that goes into making every one of the brand's luxury beach and home goods. Their Australian-born, California-based brand launched in 2017 under the guise of custom making nostalgic, high-end umbrellas and has since grown to produce beach-inspired furniture, linens, and accessories. Whether Byron Bay in Australia, Laguna here in California, or 1950s-era Coney Island—where Co-Founder Edwards states some of that vintage inspiration comes from—the beach is central to Business & Pleasure's identity. It also inspires B&P's dedication to functionality as their parasols are SPF-rated, towels are super absorbent, and chairs are comfortable enough to sit in all day long. As Edwards notes, "We try to keep all the elements of what made these items so good in the past while modernizing them with tech, durability, and modular and foldable options." We recently had a chat with the founders to talk about their backgrounds, Lachlan's design process from rendering to packaging, and a few guidelines to care for their pieces. Read on for more.
You co-founded Business and Pleasure Co. while traveling back and forth between Australia and California. Tell us what made you decide to start your brand together.
Ollie Edwards: Lach and I had met 8 years prior when he was playing in a band and traveling through Australia. I was drawn to him by his creativity and was certainly not surprised when he told me years later he had learned to manufacture umbrellas in the basement of Australia's last handmade parasol craftsman. A quick google of what was available in this category at the time, and I instantly knew this was a journey I wanted to go on with him.
You've mentioned before, Ollie, that you were a buyer in your previous career. How important has that experience been while starting and growing B&P Co.?
Ollie: I was buying for various E-commerce retailers for over 10 years in the fashion industry. It taught me everything on 'how-to' and, perhaps more importantly, how to not run your business. During this time, dealing with hundreds of brands, I got to see the common ingredients for the most successful brands and the commonalities amongst the brands that came and went. I like to think I took the best of what I learned and applied it to B&P to keep us here for the long term.
Lachlan, we understand that you design each of your goods, from renderings to packaging. Could you walk us through your design process?
Lachlan Leckie: When approaching a new product, we think of three key areas—beauty, functionality, and sustainability. There are also some key questions we ask ourselves to begin the process:
Beauty: How can we make this category Business & Pleasure? (As in, where can we add iconic B&P ingredients like our fabric or fringe).
Functionality: How can we produce it better than in the past?
Sustainability: Without compromising the design, how can we slim up the packaging by making the products collapsible and/or foldable?
Getting into the nitty-gritty of design (I like to make everyone's life hard, ha!), we re-design every little detail and component of a product. We do not use any standard molds and hinges or sliders etc. Everything is custom-made across multiple factories. It's a tough, complex, and expensive process, but it ensures we get an original and unparalleled result and design.
We love the timeless, vintage, yet modern feel to your pieces. Is that how you would describe your brand's decor style, and if not, how would you?
Ollie: I think that sounds about right. A little Coney Island in the 1950s meets the modern ease of use. We try to keep all the elements of what made these items so good in the past while modernizing them with tech, durability, and modular and foldable options. Most importantly—how can we remove any plastics and harmful substances that may have been used beforehand, both on the product and with packaging.
How do your surroundings influence the pieces you make, specifically being an Australian-born, California-based brand?
Ollie: Fortunately, geography has certainly never been an issue for the brand. We're extremely lucky to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, people, and places. In Australia, the sun is completely different. There is a hole in the ozone layer, and you simply have no option but to ensure optimal shade coverage. This was a major research point in the early stages of the brand, ensuring our products are SPF-rated (especially for the kiddos). On our first visits to California, we noticed that people generally take more to the beach and set up for an entire day. This inspired our Chair collection and many of the little folding and more modular moments to simply carry more B&P for your beach session. (Also, to fit more wine in your Cooler Bag, duh! The Americans know how it's done, hah.)
What are a few pieces in your collection that you are most proud of?
Ollie: While it's hard not to call out the Premium Umbrella, our umbrella base category has us smiling most recently. This category has been so boring in the market until now. We used so many different (well, ugly) kinds at our trade shows and events over the years while developing ours in the background. As a surprise to us, it was extremely hard to find a cute, simple, functional Umbrella Base. I think ours are just that, and they are packaged with zero plastic! Which we are also very proud of.
Besides the beach lifestyle, what are your other go-to sources of inspiration?
Ollie: Italy in general! Lach and I are huge on travel and music. We are always down for a trip and a good music show, separately or collectively. We've traveled half the world together now, with many great ideas at 30,000 feet, drinking a glass of red wine, chatting each other's ears off.
What is one thing each of you wants all of your customers to know about Business and Pleasure Co.?
Ollie: Your money is being well spent at a thoughtful company. We are a company built on values. We appreciate our customers, and we spend countless hours ensuring our products are best-in-class. We treasure our team of employees, give back to our local communities, and endeavor to leave the smallest possible carbon footprint as a company as possible.
We love the high quality of your goods, from the coated canopy of the umbrella to the weather-resistant hardwood frames. What are your general guidelines when taking care of your pieces?
Ollie: We get asked this question a lot. The short answer is you simply get out what you put in. Like all outdoor furniture, if you leave it outside in the sun, rain, moisture, salt, sea, etc., you will see some general wear and tear. Teak wood is beautiful, but it requires attention and a bit of TLC. The best advice is to cover or simply bring your goods inside when they are not in use. I still have umbrellas and chairs at my house from our very first collection in 2018!
Outdoor entertaining season is here! What's your go-to Spring/Summer outdoor cocktail?!
Ollie: Aperol Spritz!
What's next for you and Business & Pleasure Co.?
Ollie: We have so many new products I don't know where to begin! I think the biggest push for B&P is our Home and Commercial Category. We've developed our own solution-dyed acrylic canvas that we'll be using across different umbrella, chair, and chaise silhouettes. In addition, we will begin selling this fabrication-by-the-yard to consumers, designers, and hotels to ensure their setups are not only cute but consistent and durable! It's been a 2-year design and testing process, so this one feels pretty good to finally start talking about!