ANNIE & TONY MCWILLIAM
Tell us about you and your backgrounds. How was Colt & Willow created?
We are a half-English half-Aussie family, I’m from Dorset and Tony is from Melbourne. Tony has a design background and I used to be a personal chef (I have spent a lot of years washing up dishes and seeing my hands fall to pieces from all the irritants!)
Having children changed the way we viewed everything from our home to the world we live in. It became really important to make sure our house was safe for them to crawl, lick and touch! We child-proofed the house, cooked them great food (which mainly ended up on the floor!) but there was one area that took us awhile to sort... the cupboard under the sink.
I actually remember clearing out the cupboard under the sink when my youngest had just learnt she could open all the doors, and as i took everything out I realised we didn’t want or need all these harsh chemicals in our home. That is when I started tinkering and making my own cleaning products. Colt and Willow grew from there really.
How has Colt & Willow evolved over time?
C&W has changed from being something that I dreamt about doing in my kitchen to a reality. We have wonderful customers who believe in us and the brand, and to us that is amazing. We are constantly trying to improve and learn what we could be doing better.
All ingredients used in Colt & Willow products are plant-based and toxic-free, which is amazing. Why was it important to you to create products with a high standard?
There is a very common myth that planet conscious cleaning products don’t clean. It was so important to us that we came with formulations that are safe enough for everyone in the home and the planet but also worked.
It was also so important to us that we had products that smelt amazing, we wanted to make people feel uplifted from cleaning not nearly choking on harsh smells!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a brand?
Probably the amount of things needed to be done to run our business when there are only the two of us and we have small children. It’s a lot to juggle and we are both perfectionists so when things aren’t perfect that can often be a problem!
Throughout your lives and careers, what have you worked on or achieved that you are most proud of?
I am actually super proud of C&W, I never thought it could ever become reality and it is! Even with the highs and lows that come with running your own business, I think we are trying to carve out a life that works for us and our family.
What inspires you?
Nature. I am constantly in awe of our beautiful world, and what it gives us.
A LITTLE FIND is the home of conscious brands. What does ‘conscious’ mean to you?
Being conscious for us is probably living by the phrase “Less is more”, or “Can we make it ourselves?”. We actually need very little to live happily and planet friendly. Also slowing down, and taking the time to be grateful for what we do have.
In what ways do you practice conscious living yourself?
One of the things we try to do a lot of is being out in nature, the benefits on our mental health and our children's is worth its weight in gold. Everyone is happier after we have been outside for a bit.
What 3 top tips would you give to help encourage others to live more sustainably and more mindfully?
- Breathe more deeply.
- Exercise outside.
- Get a reusable bottle.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?
At the moment we are working on formulating a window cleaner, we are just trying to get the right essential oil combination. I love developing the products, I get very excited about formulations and getting the right fragrance.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company?
I don’t think I realised how all consuming running our own business would be. Tony and I try to be really strict that we don’t talk about C&W at breakfast, dinner or during family time. But it is hard separating it all.
Top tip (if you work from home) - make sure you leave the house once a day!
What is your LITTLE FIND? (Favourite product on our website)
The Esker ALL OVER Roller. I love face rollers and as someone who suffers a lot with headaches, I have found they really help.
Let’s have a little fun and FIND out about you...
Favourite TV series right now? I don’t have a favourite right now but I am eagerly awaiting the return of The Crown!
Last thing you cooked? We made Sushi last night, it’s a family favourite.
Favourite Instagram account to follow? Studio Mcgee - I am a huge interior design fan and I could spend ages looking at their beautiful designs.
Best book recommendation? I just finished Normal people (bit late on that one) but I loved it.
Perfect way to spend your weekend? On a bike ride somewhere beautiful with Tony and the girls, hopefully being able to stop for brunch and a coffee. Tony being from Melbourne has taught that there is no better thing than brunch in the sunshine with a great coffee!!
Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? Mammasita in Melbourne, it opened my mind to how amazing and tasty Mexican food is.
Country you’d love to visit? In a heartbeat we would be on a plane to Australia to visit our family there, very sadly that can’t happen at the moment.
Describe your ‘happy place’. Being with my whole family, in my parents kitchen all laughing and dancing, plus some good food and drink!