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Sydney's Destination Stores: duckeggBLUE

Walking into a retail space and feeling immediately struck with a sense of home and nostalgic longing for a daydream-like memory is an extremely rare moment, and one that is often reserved for chance stumbles upon tiny family businesses on holidays to far-off places. However, for those who have ventured into Balmain and come across the divine duckeggBLUE shops, you know that we are lucky enough to access such an experience in our own backyard. The women’s fashion and lifestyle boutique duckeggBLUE offers a carefully edited selection of classy and casual clothes and accessories, while its sister store, quintessential duckeggBLUE, is an interior heaven of pieces that epitomise minimalist, antique charm. Reminiscent of a grandfather’s shoe factory in the French countryside – with the exact mixture of charm and industrial edge that it would convey – quintessential proves that classic design is not lost in modern-day hands. Both stores have been branded to perfection, each honed with a fine aesthetic that cleverly delivers the message they are trying to get across – one that has been defined by the impeccable taste of their owner, Leanne Carter-Taylor.



Although Leanne insists that one either has the “buying eye” or they don’t, her retail knowledge is certainly something that has come from experience. After studying fashion marketing and promotion at university in the UK, she started working for one of the country’s high street retailers, where she learned the ins and outs of retail marketing, buying and visual merchandising. She arrived in Australia on holiday and ended up at the head of Amnesty International Australia’s buying & merchandising department, where she remained until she started duckeggBLUE in 2003. “I was a frustrated Balmain shopper with nowhere to shop that excited me or offered covetable ‘objects & clothes’ that I wanted to buy. My original concept for was a destination store that selected only the best in gifts, homewares and fashion, and it was with this idea that we started the business. It took approximately three months from idea to opening.....I don’t hang around!”

Her take on the shop’s interior design had, incidentally, been around for years. “I lived with my mother in a Victorian house in the UK, and when it came to decorating my bedroom I had to strip back all the walls so that we had a clean wall to paint and paper. On doing this throughout the house, I soon learnt that nearly all the rooms had been painted in a ‘duckeggBLUE’ colour, which was apparently a popular colour of the time! I fell in love with it immediately!” Indeed, the understated pastel hue is both the store’s namesake and what marks the walls within both spaces, the second of which, quintessential, opened in 2008.

“I was always known for owning the fashion store, so furniture made a few heads turn,” she recalls. People don’t realise that I grew up in a house full of furniture and art. My father was a furniture maker & upholsterer so furniture has always been a huge part of my life. The two store are now four doors apart from each other on Darling Street, Balmain.”




As nearly 99% of the product in quintessential is sourced internationally from Europe, UK and the USA, the store offers difficult-to-find items that are distinctive and marked by their workmanship. It is the kind of shop that makes you want to throw out everything you own and start anew – with quintessential being the first stop, of course.

“When selecting product for either of the stores I always look for impeccable design, quality, practicality and providence (for the furniture that is!),” explains Leanne.
“I keep a watchful eye out for trends, but make sure that we never follow them slavishly – instead we look for STYLE rather than fashion, and that goes for either clothing or furniture.”

When reflecting back on the initial challenges, Leanne cites, “sourcing suppliers, labels and brands that were covetable and offered what I was looking for in terms of design aesthetic and having them believe in me and my new business. How things have changed now…..I am approached on a daily basis from new labels looking to be stocked in duckeggBLUE. And then retail location is always key, as well as cash flow…..when isn’t it?”




Leanne concedes that branding has been key for duckeggBLUE, and it is something she has undoubtedly succeeded at – it has just the right amount of ingredients to avoid being overdone, and represents the products with the stores to a tee. “ I have established this business by creating a credible and covetable brand – duckeggBLUE & quintessential duckeggBLUE. It looks the way it does because I designed it... the store ambience and any materials that we print for the store all portray a reputable, desirable, welcoming, high-end, interesting and covetable store/business. This is exactly what we are, so why not tell people that? We are unashamedly high-end, or at least we are perceived that way, even though we retail a beautiful leather bag for $130!”

While her eye for branding and vast experience are some of the first things she credits her success to, at the end of the day, the hard work has been they key: “there is no way that a small business will succeed without this and lots of it!” As for the future, new stores are certainly on the horizon, but for now Leanne is busy with managing the two she has while still finding room to “take time out to smell the roses.”

Leanne Carter-Taylor


words: Seema Duggal

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