LIFE & CULTURE

How Steffanie Ball’s Maternity Leave Led To Her Creating One Of Australia’s Most Coveted Homeware Destinations

En Gold's signature plinths and furniture has (rightfully so) garnered a cult following

One might think that maternity leave is a time to be engulfed in nothing but that blissful baby bubble – an endless stream of nappy changes, sleepless nights and cuddles – but for Steffanie Ball, it was about sparking a business that would quickly become one of Australia’s most sought after homeware destinations. 

Having come from a background in interior design, Ball decided her newly found time at home (with her new bub in tow) was the perfect opportunity to redo her and husband Matt Ball’s home. “I was on maternity leave with my daughter, and I had had a few experiences in previous jobs where I had sold vintage furniture,” Ball tells marie claire. 

“Naturally, I decided that I wanted to sell everything in my house and redo it – because you’re not busy enough with a newborn and being a first-time mum. Just going to throw in a massive project in there as well!” 

Two years into their journey, Steffanie and Matt co-founded En Gold, creating their signature (and highly-coveted) plinths, coffee and side tables, among other distinctive furniture offerings. 

“About a year into selling vintage pieces on Instagram, I really missed design and that satisfaction you get from having an idea in your head and putting it to paper and then creating it and seeing the finished project,” Ball explains. “It was like an itch I needed to scratch, so we started our first collection making natural stone and marble plinths, and it’s just snowballed from there.”

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While the pair may have stepped away from selling vintage wares, it’s still very much rooted in the design aesthetic of their collections, along with keeping their covetable pieces at accessible prices. 

“A really strong focus for our first plinth collection was the price point, because we had built this business around selling secondhand furniture, and I had found this niche in the market,” says Ball of that first collection. “If you wanted a natural stone marble piece it was really catered to the high-end market, and I always felt that I identified with my customers, my customers were people like me who wanted beautifully handcrafted, natural stone and marble pieces, but couldn’t necessarily afford what was available.” 

Based in Melbourne and shipping worldwide, En Gold now sources its natural marble and stone from all over the world – including Turkey, Italy and Spain. But, getting to that point was no easy feat – as Ball explains – setting out on a journey to find the right makers and stonemasons to bring their vision to life. 

“It was challenging to find the right makers and stonemasons that could see the same vision as me,” she explains. “So, the trickiest part for me was to find a stonemason that could see that vision and was happy to work with me in creating the same quality product, but not with the same price point.”

That union came in the ‘perfect place, perfect time’ scenario, with Ball finding her current stonemason through a trip to purchase a piece of vintage furniture.

“His wife was selling a vintage marble coffee table he had made years ago, and I went to pick it up. I just found it on Facebook marketplace, went to go pick it up, and she told me her husband was a stonemason. And so that’s how it came about, which was really amazing. And I still work with him to this day. It was like the stars aligned.” 

Steffanie Ball
Steffanie Ball

With all its challenges, starting a business from the ground up also has those pinch-me moments that leave a permanent mark. For Ball, it came slowly when she realised just how quickly En Gold had grown in such a short period of time. 

“When we started En Gold, my husband and I lived in this little beach cottage – it was tiny! There were times where you used to open our bedroom door and you actually couldn’t see down the hallway because there was just like couches and chairs and tables, just piled to the ceiling in furniture.

“So now, when I look around our studio and I’ve got an amazing team working for me, and I’m looking at our collections and the collections that we have coming up, and we’re aligning with some incredible brands and collaborations, there hasn’t been one moment where I haven’t been like, ‘It’s a pinch-me moment.’ Especially how quickly it all evolved. I feel very, very lucky and excited and passionate about what we’re doing.” 

As for what Ball would tell other women who are thinking of making that first leap, she says simply: “Don’t overthink it.” 

“When you want to start a business, just look at what’s directly in front of you, just make the first step,” Ball adds. “It’s definitely the most rewarding journey that you can take, but it’s also emotional and tiring and it can be hard work, but when you’re doing what your love, you don’t even notice. It’s a cliche when people say when you do what you love, you don’t feel like you’re working, but there is some truth to it.”

Now with their mid-century designs becoming instant sell-out’s, the En Gold team is preparing to release their new Lucite collection in October (a sneak peek is pictured above), which features armchairs, dining chairs, new coffee tables and even a mirror. 

“We’re having a bit more fun, we’re exploring,” says Ball. “I think, up until now, a lot of our collections have been really pared back and safe, and this time around, we’re definitely having a lot more fun with our aesthetic, and a bit bolder.”

Explore the En Gold range online here.

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