In late 2016, after working for almost 20 years in retail, Angie McIntosh decided to pursue her own creative dream, Merchants of the Sea. “Creatively unfulfilled, and unhappy with the large company culture, I had felt ‘trapped’ for many years until I reached a point where I knew I had to focus my energy into something that would inspire me and bring me joy. I believe that Merchants of the Sea had existed in my heart and mind for many years, and is part of my creative DNA,” says Angie.
With two arms to the business (prop hire and Angie’s original designs), Angie was initially inspired when styling her own home in the small coastal town of Kiama, New South Wales. “Living in a coastal home, we were always looking for pieces that reflected a relaxed, coastal lifestyle,” says Angie who shares her home with her husband and two small children.
“I prefer to style with authentic old nautical items. Objects that make you ponder what history they’ve had, what stories they could tell and that wear a patina that can only come with time. For me, there’s a romance, drama and magic quality that the sea conjures. It has been the source of boundless stories of adventure since the beginning of time and has always captured my imagination,” says Angie.
Items are sourced all over the world at auction, clearance sales, markets, estate sales and online too. “Many of my vintage pieces come, quite literally, from across the seas! I am inspired by my imaginings of a bygone era and old merchant trade days – a sensory experience of colour and texture!” says Angie.
“I love searching for unique vintage nautical pieces, that can add an instant talking point in your home and sharing them with my online followers, finding them a new home, adding a new chapter to their story,” says Angie. Popular products include vintage surfboards, timber oars, vintage anchors, life rings, glass buoys and cane lobster pots,” says Angie who sells her one-off pieces on Instagram.
And while Hamptons style homes, coastal abodes and beach homes seem the obvious fit for Angie’s wares, the pieces wouldn’t look out of place in just about any space. “Although our brand has a definite nautical vibe, we come across such a diverse range of wares that can suit many types of interiors. These include provincial or country homesteads and we sell to a lot of collectors of curiosities too,” says Angie.
“My greatest satisfaction comes from demonstrating ways to integrate vintage pieces in a contemporary setting to give it story, character and personality. I love challenging the idea some people have that vintage and modern can’t mix,” says Angie who recently released her own range of vintage inspired flags, burgees and pennants. “It was extremely gratifying to imagine and create the designs, and then have these designs well received,” says Angie who creates bespoke pieces too.
As for the prop hire side of the business, Angie carries a range of ephemera from a 1940’s teardrop bondwood caravan to a pair of 1880’s church windows – all of which are available for hire by stylists or even people hosting functions or events. “I also source unique and specialty items on request,” says Angie.