When these two sisters set up their own range of luxe resort products, they never thought much about the final words they say to each other at the end of the day. But here is what those words reveal about the red-headed siblings, writes Alex Brooks for Vive magazine.
When Alexandra Smart rushes out of the sleek boudoir-like studio of Ginger & Smart at 6pm, she leaves her creative sister to the peace of after-hours designing.
“She’s always telling me to blow out the candles – I like to have three or four burning at once,” admits Genevieve, the younger sister who designs the luxe resort-style range of products that Ginger & Smart sell in 75 Australian stores and 15 overseas outlets.
“I’m usually here till quite late, so it’s the last thing on my mind when I finally leave.”
The scented candles that Genevieve burns so freely were one of the first products in the Ginger & Smart range, which now includes fashion, belts, bags and other beautiful products that fit under the umbrella of ‘precious treasures’.
Genevieve, a former designer for Lisa Ho, and her older sister Alexandra, a former magazine publisher, set up their brand in 2002 and now employ three staff at their Paddington headquarters in Sydney.
“I am your classic first-born child with an A-type personality,” says Alexandra, who has worked full-time on the business since 2002, shortly before the birth of her first child Ava.
The sisters came up with the idea for the business after Genevieve had a stint in hospital and craved luxe goodies like padded eye masks and scented candles rather than bunches of flowers.
“We realised that luxe was not about the money you spend, but the way things made you feel – so we developed and launched the spa range,” Alexandra says.
The sisters grew up in England and Australia with passionate parents who didn’t own a television and lived in a Tudor Cottage on “a pig farm without any heating or running water”.
“Basically, our parents encouraged us to make our own fun from our imagination – I’m not sure I would have worked in fashion if it hadn’t been for my childhood,” Genevieve says.
“Mum would take us into an Op Shop and have us pick something out that we’d end up chopping and changing or customising it with new buttons.
“They call it vintage now, but back then it was just plain op shop and it was awful.”
Genevieve recalls childhood games of making fairy gardens with sparkly rings nestled in piles of flower petals and a dress-up box “full of amazing vintage clothes and petticoats”.
Alexandra lost herself in books and sport as a child and as she entered her late teens, the sisters fought and bickered as most siblings do.
“It was only as we got into our twenties and later in our thirties that we really came together again as sisters,” Alexandra says.
And now, the business is growing so rapidly that the siblings spend more time talking about “niggly day-to-day business things” than sisterly things.
Of course, Genevieve and Alexandra are close – Genevieve was at the birth of Ava – “Our partners get really annoyed at family events because we are always hoping no-one will notice us talking quietly to each other about what’s going on with the business.”