THE RITUALIST / Interview with Samara Macchia, founder of Shackpalace Rituals, Byron Bay Australia

THE RITUALIST / Interview with Samara Macchia, founder of Shackpalace Rituals, Byron Bay Australia

SAMARA SHACKPALACE RITUALS

We finally got around to introducing our interview series with the beautiful people we work with, who support us, and who inspire us. It always takes a while for stories to start interweaving and layering, but they do so eventually, making our life richer and better for it. We wanted to shine the light onto the people who help us do what we do, and show you how and why our ethos and stars are aligned

One such story is that of our Byron Bay exclusive stockist @shackpalacerituals. Although, 'stockist' does not do this place justice. 'Temple of Bespoke Objects' perhaps? You get my drift, it's special alright, and we're beyond blessed to be sitting on those holy dark wood shelves, handpicked by founder and owner Samara Macchia herself, the high priestess of daily rituals and soulful objects.

Our interview with her is a beautiful Monday read, I hope will inspire you all to take more little moments each day ritualising routines and chores. Lighting a candle might be as close to prayer as we'll ever get these days.

LEPAAR: What is your store’s ethos an/or mantra and where does it come from?

SAMARA: The Shackpalace mantra is ‘questioning the way we live, so we can live better’. There are many different philosophies that we have developed as a result of living by this mantra. The key philosophy that inspired the shop was to question our everyday routines and add intention to them so that they become mindful rituals. 

LEPAAR: Unlike pretty much every other 'homeware’ shop we know, your store totally transcends the ever present white space obsession – for which we are both eternally grateful. What lead you to using all that beautiful dark wood and creating such a distinguished aesthetic?

SAMARA: Thank you! We love that so many people seem to be resonating with the deep, dark tones in our store. We opened Shackpalace Rituals after building our first ever Shackpalace home in Noosa, which my dad (Frank Macchia) designed as a result of many years questioning the way we design, build and live in our homes. One of the key characteristics of this home was the use of darker materials such as stained recycled timber. Dad had many reasons for experimenting with darker tones in this home, some of which were about aesthetics such as dark colours working together more seamlessly to create tonal texture as well as the way that the dark tones inside the home framed the outside areas more dramatically, particularly around large windows. The main reason however was his idea that using these beautiful dark colours would create a more calming, nurturing feeling in the space that is difficult to achieve with a bright white aesthetic. This theory proved to be very accurate and we have had so many people comment on how calm they feel when entering both the guest home and shop as a result of this. 

LEPAAR: You have a knack for curating the artisanal without the conceptual effort or following trends per se – love to know how and where you find your offerings, and what your criteria are for choosing to have something in your store.

SAMARA: This is a great question, when we first begun curating the shop it was very much a team effort with each product being run through a set of strict criteria and needing to be unanimously approved by the whole family before it was accepted.. (of course Lepaar passed all our criteria with flying colours!) Now the selection process has become more intuitive and is primarily led by me. The basic set of criteria which we have never been prepared to compromise on are;

  1. Ethics & Sustainability. We ensure that we are only selling products that, to the best of our knowledge and research, are doing no harm to ourselves or our planet and are made in ethical conditions, mostly by individual artisans and small family businesses. 
  2. Beauty. Of course we have a very high standard for aesthetics in our curation. I select pieces that I believe to be the most beautiful version of that particular thing. A big part of our philosophy is about decluttering our homes and therefore having less objects and only having objects that we want to display in our home and don’t need to hide behind cupboards and drawers to forget about. We feel that this philosophy encourages people to choose quality over quantity more often. 
  3. Ritual Inspiring. The intention in opening Shackpalace Rituals was to inspire ourselves and others to slow down and create mindful rituals in our daily lives, specifically in our homes. We therefore ensure that our collection is curated with the intention of inspiring ritual. This is sometimes obvious as with our matcha and tea rituals and sometimes more subtle, like in the way that eating your dinner in a beautiful handmade bowl using handcrafted brass chopsticks brings you more deeply into that experience and the present moment. 

LEPAAR: Hope you don’t mind me sneaking in a question like this – I am asking as the daughter of a creative father myself – how influential is your father’s ethos and body of work in your own life and work?

SAMARA: Dad’s creative and philosophical influence has been hugely impactful in almost all aspects of my life and work. Dad has an incredible ability to look at any situation from a completely unique perspective that most people would have never thought to consider, which is something that I am continually inspired by. When I was younger and doing freelance design work, I used to run almost every creative and business decision I made past dad first. Dad has always encouraged me to have confidence in my own lateral thinking ability, and slowly over time- and through many long philosophical discussions with dad- I have developed this confidence more and more (although I still very often find myself asking the question ‘what would dad do’ when problem solving!)

I attribute my love for design to the many combined hours of listening dad talk about design details in almost every space we entered into growing up and to the many days that dad let me skip school to go on furniture buying trips and visit construction sites with him- the best work experience I could have ever asked for! I also attribute my confidence in being a free thinker and allowing myself to create the life and job that I want to the example he set for me with his passion for his own work and his continual encouragement to never settle for the status quo. 

LEPAAR: Are you designing objects in your store yourself? And how are you producing them?

SAMARA: At the moment we have a small collection of items that we design ourselves, and hopefully this will continue to grow. We often collaborate with various artisans to make our designs, particularly in cases where we are searching for something specific and can’t find a version of that fits all our criteria. We have our own range of delicious herbal tea blends, which my mum, who is a dietitian has blended herself. Our hand forged steel trays and palo santo stands have been designed by dad in collaboration with our good friend Lee Brennan, who makes each piece in his studio in Noosa. We are currently expanding our collection of linen towels, tea towels and throws which are made by a small family team that we work closely with in Lithuania. I am also about to launch by own ethical clothing label called Sabii (www.sabii.co), which we plan to stock in the store. All pieces in the upcoming collections for this label will be made in Sydney and naturally plant dyed locally in the Northern Rivers. 

LEPAAR: Is there a reason you chose to have a store in Byron Bay?

SAMARA: I would love to say that we had some kind of brilliant, business savvy reason for opening here but to be honest, there is just nowhere else I would rather be or live. I love the people and community here so much, so it makes sense for this beautiful area to be the birthplace of Shackpalace Rituals.

LEPAAR: What are the best (and maybe worst?) things about having your own store? Such a boring question, but we’d love to know since we’re ourselves wondering wether to open up our lab into a whole-in-the-wall walk in…

SAMARA: That sounds amazing!! Looking forward to seeing the Lepaar lab opened up! 

Aside from the fact that sourcing and curating beautiful things is my passion and absolute dream job, the other best thing is definitely the people I have met along the way. I feel honoured to work with so many talented artisans and designers and to have connected with all our wonderful customers, many of whom have become close friends. I so often think that we have the best customers ever, especially when hearing other peoples stories of the retail world.

The most difficult part for me would have to be the continually-having-your-brain-switched-on aspect of running a business. This has been a big adjustment for me, and as the shop has grown, I have felt a few growing pains with trying to maintain my own daily rituals and mindful practice while always thinking about my ever growing to do list and never wanting to let anyone down or miss an email or message from a customer. I am learning so much from this and I’m definitely becoming better at managing my time (and delegating a little more) with experience.