Meet the founder of Wandering Folk - Sharnee Thorpe

When two colourful worlds collide…kick back on our Wandering Folk x Kip&Co Birds of Paradise picnic rug!
Let us take you back to the 50’s, in a tropical Caribbean jungle, floating past squawking parrots and sweet abundant fruit. Picnic amongst the lush foliage, dance around the flamingos, and sing a peachy tune. Here’s to a summer of picnics together.
Today we chat with Sharnee Thorpe, the founder of Wandering Folk and the talented artist behind this incredible print.

Tell us your origin story, what was your life pre WF?

I’ve always loved painting, I discovered surface design while studying a short course and became obsessed! I moved from my sleepy little coastal town in Northern NSW to Melbourne to study Textile Design at RMIT. After graduating I worked for 2 leading print studios in Sydney & LA designing prints for all kinds of wonderful fashion brands. My dream was to be a freelancer so no day would looked the same, I‘ve had the pleasure of designing prints for Peony swimwear, Kip&Co, Seafolly, Nine Lives Bazaar, Assembly Label, Cleo Bella and Down The Rabbit Hole wines. My prints have landed on surfboards, beach umbrellas, teacups, yoga mats and wine bottles. It was a beautiful journey developing my own design personality.

What led you start WF?

Working as a freelancer is great and so rewarding, but I guess I wanted to start my own thing so I could have creative control over the final say. I grew up loving the outdoors, we went camping a lot when I was a kid so naturally that’s what I loved to do in my spare time, though camping gear is so ugly. The original idea of Wandering Folk came when we were on a camping trip with nothing to sit on but an old swag…that’s where the seed of Wandering Folk started. To design a camping mat that was made of quality fabric and also looked great, a product that would showcase my prints. I launched the first pre orders for Wandering Folk in September 2015 it sure has been a wild ride the past 6 years and I’m incredibly proud of where Wandering Folk is now, it has taken on a wonderful life of its own.

What’s been the best and worst thing about starting a small business? Biggest tip for those dreaming of their own business?

The highs are HIGH and the lows are LOW, it sure is a rollercoaster of emotions all the time. Worst part is that you never really get to switch off as your work follows you! But that is also the best part, the places I have travelled and amazing people I have met along this wild and crazy ride of running a small business is what fills me up. The community I have created around Wandering Folk is truly my biggest achievement.

Biggest tip for the dreamers is to create a community, reach out to people you admire and ask questions, seek out people that are on the same journey and create your own community. Having a network around you that undersand, as you grow your business has been the biggest help to me over the years. I didn’t have this for the first few years and when I finally did it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, being able to talk about your business issues with someone that truly understands and has been through the same thing is life changing!  

You’re an amazing artist, how would you describe your style, and who inspires you?

Aww thank you, I feel like it’s hard to see your own style haha! In a few words I would say my style is

~ Painterly Florals with a 70’s flare ~

I’m inspired by vintage treasures I collect along my travels, blooms I find in the wild, William Morris an 1800’s Textile Designer and the beautiful ornamental style Art Nouveau.

How did the WF x KC collaboration come about?

I’ve been hand painting prints for the amazing Kip&Co since 2016, as the years have gone on and Wandering Folk took more of my time, I dropped off a lot of the brands I was freelancing with. Kip& Co was a brand I truly loved working with, their print ideas are so creative & bright they were just so much fun to paint so kept painting in the little spare time I had because of the love for it. So I guess the next step to take in our beautiful relationship was to create a product together, combining one of my all time favourite fun prints, that I painted a few years back for Kip&Co ‘Birds of Paradise’ and making that print into a picnic rug!

What’s your favourite picnic spot?

I think this would have to be my backyard! It’s like a jungle of gardens that backs onto a tidal estuary leading out to the ocean. A sunset picnic here is magic, with the fire going watching the suns golden reflection on the water when the tide is high, its truly the most enchanting place. I live in a little beach cottage with my husband & 2 year old daughter, the cottage is on the property I grew up on and my parents live out the back. I moved away for quite a few years and since moving back here, I don’t know how I will ever leave this incredible property.

- What are your picnic essentials?

Well Wandering Folk has you sorted for all your picnic essentials!

  • A picnic rug of course
  • A cooler bag filled with my favourite cheese & wine
  • Glass wine goblets
  • A Picnic basket (Very excited that our first Picnic Basket launches 9th Sept)