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Upcycled Homewares Inspo With Nash + Banks Founder Niccii Kugler

Niccii Kugler founder Nash + Banks in her home
Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Oct 26, 2021

Nash + Banks is a curated store founded by Niccii Kugler that helps those looking to live a more conscious life discover the best ethical and sustainable products available today. From her base on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Niccii handpicks brands from Australia and around the world that are committed to having a positive impact. We love it because it takes the guess work out of finding gifts, fashion and homewares that are both stylish and sustainable, which is no mean feat. Excitingly, the now virtual business will soon have a bricks and mortar presence with the launch of a flagship store in Avalon next month.

Niccii’s impeccable taste is evident in her choice of wares so we were excited to lift the lid on how she embraces sustainability in her own life, especially when it comes to her home.

What inspired you to start Nash + Banks? 

My boys inspired me to start the business. Their births were the spark that lit the fuse. The initial seed was planted when I worked for an NGO in the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Having children really heightened my awareness of the increasing cost of our overconsumption. I felt a responsibility to our boys to invest my time, energy and skill set into shaping a better future for them.  I decided that I would start, with small steps, and seek out better options wherever I could. It was a bit of an experiment, to begin with. I just went hunting for brands that offered alternatives that were either ethical, sustainable, natural, handmade, low waste, vegan, made locally, or social enterprises that gave back. I was looking specifically for interesting and well-designed products, that fit my urban-meets-coastal aesthetic, and were made with purpose.

What I discovered was an inspiring community of change-makers, innovators and artisans all dedicated to rewriting our future. However, the process of sourcing, researching and vetting the products and brands was time-consuming and I couldn’t find one lifestyle platform that offered me what I was looking for…so I decided to create one myself. It’s been an adventure since the day I started the business – a challenging, inspiring, uplifting, work-intensive adventure – that I wouldn’t change for the world.

Related reading: Inside the Thrifty Wardrobe of A_C Official Founder Tessa Carroll

What does sustainability mean to you, and how do you practice it? 
That’s a great question and not always an easy one to answer because sustainability as a concept – and as a practice – is complex and ever-evolving. One definition that struck a chord for me early on is: Enough for all, forever.  It speaks to the definition by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development that: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The implication of this extends beyond just environmental factors alone into a complex intersection that also includes social and economic issues as well. Initially, I found this overwhelming, so I broke my approach down to work step by step at making better choices where I could and then expanding these into more and more aspects of my day to day life.

Personally, I’ve made a commitment to continuing self-education and self-improvement in this area. I do what I can in my private life and in our business to find alternatives that contribute to this ethos. For example, actively migrating everything from our energy provider, bank and superannuation to our toilet paper, household products and more, to companies that offer demonstrated commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.

Give us a sneak peek inside your home and tell us about any great pieces that you’ve upcycled or thrifted. 

I’m obsessed with the vintage steamer trunk that we picked up from a second-hand store when we first moved in together. It has the address details of the original owner and has clearly had a few adventures in its lifetime! I bought it from Doug Up On Bourke, I can’t remember how much it cost – we bought it more than 12 years ago and it’s s travelled to every apartment and house we’ve  lived in since.

A vintage chest.
This vintage chest still has the address of the original owner.

Another of my favourite pieces is the Genisis Bowl that artist and interior design Ruth Levine created for me to celebrate the arrival of Banks into our lives. She formed a mould around my pregnant belly when I was heavily pregnant and then transformed it into a beautiful piece of art. The black and white pattern that covers the bowl was created using some photos that Ruth took of Melbourne street art – a little reference to the artist Banksy. Ruth’s works are created by transforming and repurposing recycled materials into beautiful unexpected, handmade artworks.

On the bookshelf in our living room, we have an antique Underwood typewriter that previously belonged to my parents. I remember hiding Easter eggs in it as a kid. It’s a beautiful nod to an era before computers and technology. It still works and is a testament to a time when things were built to last.

The Underwood typewriter (middle left) and a mould of Niccii’s pregnant belly by artist Ruth Levine (bottom right).

I have a wonderful Maywood Alaia 50/50 DUKE Surfboard that has pride of place in our living room. It was handcrafted in Burleigh Heads by the legends at Maywood as part of their AWARE Collection made using 100% recycled Australian paulownia and reclaimed cedar. Maywood is a Nash+Banks brand.

Niccii Kugler's Duke surfboard
The Maywood Alaia 50/50 DUKE Surfboard handcrafted in Burleigh Heads.

We have a number of stunning Kantha Quilts that we sourced when we were planning our wedding. Kantha (meaning ‘patched cloth’) is a traditional craft that originated in the Bengal region of eastern South Asia and captures a long history of making something useful and  beautiful out of discarded cloth. I’m a total sucker when it comes to textiles that are upcycled, so these are like beautiful treasures that I will hold onto forever. We used originally to cover the bales of hay at our wedding and now they have been repurposed as picnic blankets and throws.

Kantha quilts.
Stunning Kantha quilts.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I am continuously inspired by the innovation and leadership demonstrated by grassroots and youth-led organisations, local councils, communities and businesses in developing and implementing effective action on climate change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Ilona Marchetta is The Carousel's Home and Sustainability Editor. She is a change manager and journalist specialising in sustainability. Ilona is passionate about slow and mindful living, from fashion to interiors to beauty and self care.

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