I was first introduced to CULTIVER when my friend Mel Chesneau featured the Sydney-based company on her blog Armoire Pegs & Casserole. Also from Sydney, Mel currently resides in Auckland with her French husband and three young children. As a huge fan of Mel's unique Euro-Antipodean aesthetic, I was intrigued by her love of linen bedding. Having become obsessed since discovering them as a guest at her mother-in-law's home in France, for years she had been searching unsuccessfully for affordable linen sheets, until she came across CULTIVER. Founded by Nicolle Sullivan in 2012, their range of bedding is made from 100% pure French flax linen, designed to "help you cultivate luxury in your daily life".
With a new range of exquisite designer rugs on offer and more products on the horizon I jumped at the chance to ask Nicolle some questions. She has also very kindly shared photographs of her home, which I'm sure you'll agree is completely stunning!
Nicolle's home, featuring beautiful CULTIVER linen bedding.
Have you always lived in Sydney? What do you love about living there?
I was born in Sydney but have spent some time also living in London and Melbourne, both of which I loved. Sydney is a sunny, easy place to live. I love being near water, so having the beaches and harbour close is a big plus for me, and the city is big and diverse enough to offer a decent cultural scene in addition to the outdoors lifestyle. I'm always open to new adventures though and would consider a stint in almost any city!
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to launch Cultiver?
My background is in financial markets, I worked in global investment banks for 10 years. I loved it but didn't want to continue after starting a family. So after a break to have my daughter I started thinking about trying something new - and hatched the idea of CULTIVER. I wanted to offer the type of products that I had become passionate about shopping online for: quality, well sourced and well priced, with a "cult" factor about them. I joke that I had to find an outlet for the years I had spent researching online shopping from the buy side!!
How would you explain the benefits of linen?
Linen offers so many properties beneficial for sleeping in - airy and soft, cool to touch. It has a high propensity to absorb moisture which makes it a very comfortable fabric whether you tend to be a "hot" or "cold" sleeper. Linen becomes softer the more it is washed and lasts forever, that is why you can see heritage linens for sale today that have been passed down through generations. I also love the soft, classic, understated luxury look of linen.
You have recently expanded to include a range of designer rugs. Can you tell us about the collection?
Rugs are a product I've found hard to source myself in our part of the world. The range seems limited; either huge financial investment pieces, or cheap, but limited choice so you see the same thing everywhere. When you are furnishing a home that will be to accommodate small children for the next few years but yet you appreciate good design…well, you get caught in the middle of these two.
Rombo Sorto Kilim, brown
Do you have a favourite rug?
Of the 100% wool rugs, my favourite is the Pitagora; the rugs with sari silk are all favourites too!
What are your plans for Cultiver - will you be introducing more products and if so, can you give us any clues?
We are excited about new products being introduced this year - new colours in our bed linen and single sized sheets, and table linen, will be launched in the next couple of months. Hopefully later in the year some kitchen wares will be added to the range - good food and entertaining are a huge part of "cultivating the good life" for us.
What inspires you right now - other creatives/designers, local or international design, the web etc?
I get inspired by so much - the web is a huge part of bringing all kinds of inspiration. I read a wide variety of blogs (less frequently than I'd like) and with shorter bites of time at my disposal now, hit Pinterest and Instagram multiple times a day for a quick fix. Also, people’s homes: whether in a magazine, movie or in real life are something I will never get tired of looking into.
How would you describe your personal style and how is this reflected in your own home?
My personal style is pretty classic; in my home I'm focused on good design and creating an inviting atmosphere rather than trends. Our current home is modernised Federation, into which we've layered contemporary, mid-century and vintage pieces (hopefully) harmoniously!
Nicolle's gorgeous home.
Do you have any advice for readers who dream of going into business themselves?
My advice would be to go for it - it is hugely rewarding to create something that is a reflection of your passion and hard work, and it isn’t as isolating as it used to be: the online world means you can be part of a community even if you are working on your own for a while.
The lovely Nicolle Sullivan of CULTIVER.
Big, big thanks to Nicolle for sharing her story and pearls of wisdom. I can certainly see myself becoming a linen bedding convert and how incredible are those rugs? With more to check out and worldwide shipping, make sure you visit CULTIVER and while you're there, pop over to Nicolle's fabulous blog, and like her Facebook page!
Images of Nicole and her home by photographer Hannah Blackmore