19 Oct 2021

The art of upholstery with Paige Miller of The Dusty Road

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The art of upholstery is something we didn't know we needed in our lives until we stumbled upon Paige Miller, the woman behind The Dusty Road.. A custom furniture upholstery service operating out of Byron Bays industrial estate. 

With a love for all things colourful, Paige YouTubed, googled and enthusiastically buried herself in all things upholstery to get to where she is now. 

We chatted with Paige about what instigated her passion, her inspirations and motivations for her art. 

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Q1: Hi Paige, welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
Hey, thanks for having me. I have an business called ’The Dusty Road’ that designs, creates and re-upholsters bespoke furniture pieces

Q2: Can you share with us a bit about your journey so far and where it all began?

I moved to Byron back in 2011. I was walking my dog on the beach one afternoon when I bumped into David Bromley. He and his wife had recently made the sea change from the city, as had I. A few weeks passed and before I knew it I was working as their P.A. I don’t know if you’re familiar with David or the worlds he creates but for me - and I’ve used this analogy before - it was like falling down the rabbit hole and finding myself in Alices Wonderland. He created fairytale worlds within buildings full of art and sculpture.

Everything was reimagined or a potential canvas - objects, cars, furniture, books, textiles. It was magical and a turning point in my life. An introduction to a creative world that was unconventional and exciting. He had a great love for artisans and old trades, upholstery being one of them. It was working for him that I discovered that my creativity existed in a very practical form and my love of upholstery was born.The rest has definitely been a journey…

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Q3: What do you think it is that makes your work unique?

It's fun, colourful and I incorporate humour and kook where I can. I also try to make the experience with my clients very collaborative and really spend the time chatting ideas and fabrics.

Q4: What has been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I’d say that growth has been a very organic process for me. It had to be. I had $200 in my bank account and was still very much learning to sew when I decided to open the roller door to The Dusty Road but upholstery was my thing and I was so passionate and determined to do things my own way, so I did it.

My workshop, with the roller door open and me sitting at the sewing machine or tinkering away was the first thing you saw when you turned into the industrial estate. It think it was quite unique so it intrigued people. I spent the first three years talking to anyone who walked by. I guess I took people on the journey with me, they had no choice in someways, it was all I talked about, and I used instagram to show that journey.

Long story short, over enthusiasm and instagram.

Q5: What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?
The whole 6 years has been one long challenging process of learning to be honest. None of it came naturally to me. Everything had to be learned - patience, sewing, attention to detail, working under pressure, timelines, managing money, people, systems, procedures, accounting and just general organisation really. Its definitely kept things interesting over the years. So the challenging lesson learnt is you can’t do everything. Eventually you need to let go and hand things over.

Q6: What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
The deep sense of purpose and knowing that I’m on the right path.

Q7: Where do you go or what do you do to recharge your creativity?
New experiences, places or interesting conversations always inspire me somehow. Or I sleep and wake up at 3am with really good ideas!

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Q8: How are you fulfilling your creative passions this year?
The last two years have been very much about managing the growth of the business and to be honest it hasn’t felt like a particularly creative time for me which I’ve struggled with a lot. So this year it’s about surrendering to the needs of the business, making sure we have the staff, the systems & procedures (yawn!) in place and flowing so that next year I can give myself the time to get re-inspired and pick back up the creative projects that have been sidelined.

Q9: We’re all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
My friends.

From the new mums who are raising beautiful children; to the courageous ones that flip their life on it's head and start again, recreate themselves because somethings not working for them despite the fear of what the future holds; The tenacious, strong and independent ones that are equally comfortable in their masculine to their feminine; The selfless ones that care so deeply about the state of the world and their community and who require no recognition for the good they do daily but subtly make you want to be better; The creative ones with original ideas that pour out of them but care not for recognition, only to create and keep creating and sharing and inspiring; The entrepreneurs and corporate young guns, looking at new ways to create change from within big business to support the environment and social injustices and that lead with empathy.

They’re all very normal people. The most beautiful thing we have in common is the ability to be vulnerable with each other and to share stories, ideas and experiences. It's important. We need that to normalise, strengthen and grow.

I’m constantly grateful for the women in my life.

Q10: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Never be underestimated and if it feels too big, start small.

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