In Conversation With—James McCarthy, Gather Co

At Wyer & Co. it can be said that our best work is often achieved through collaboration with like-minded collaboratives. Welcome to In Conversation With, a novel series highlighting the processes and philosophies of our suppliers, collaborators and industry partners.

This week we sit down with James McCarthy, Co-Founder of architectural surface and outdoor decor business, Gather Co. From humble beginnings to global operations, Gather Co has made it their mission to uncover unusual things from unusual places. Join us as we discuss the importance of relationships and authenticity in business.

Q—Thank you for joining us, James. Tell us more about Gather Co. How did it all begin?

A—Gather Co was founded in 2015, when three friends with a shared love of unique architectural surfaces and bespoke outdoor wares made the decision to pursue a collective passion.

Our official launch came in 2016 following an international sourcing trip and our first material and decor consignment landing in Australia. Five years on, we can't quite believe how quickly the time has passed, and what we've been able to achieve.

Q—What is your underlying philosophy?

A—Dream Big. Committed to traversing the globe in search of a story worth telling, Gather Co's identity is framed by providing collections that mean something. We made it our mission to uncover unusual things from unusual places.

Trade Traditional. If you don't understand people, you can't understand their talent. From the backstreets of New Dehli to the Turkish coast, from Serbia to Shanghai, we've real face-time into building relationships with traditional artisans.

Q—Can you provide insight into your sourcing and procurement process?

A—From day one, our sourcing process has always been about being there. We've literally broken bread with all of our suppliers and have put real efforts into building meaningful relationships. The fact is, we're tiny and that often poses a challenge when trying to trade with big players overseas. We'll never be that buyer from Texas who's filling more containers in a single week than we'd do in a full year. This means that we have to be likeable to get any kind of attention from large international quarries, collectors and manufacturers.

Q—What informs, and diversifies your offering?

A—Again, being small drives us to constantly look for gaps in what's available domestically. We simply can't compete with our more established competitors on aligning products. This means we have to be different and unique.

Our inspiration predominantly comes from overseas, where artisans have been honing and applying their craft for centuries. We love products that have an authentic story and believe that this is precisely where true value lies. From our standpoint, it's our job to share these origin stories with our community of customers.

Q—What have you learned along the way?

A—Business is hard—like really bloody hard. As a trio, we had no experience in this space before launching and this has laid the ground for some very tough lessons along the way.

We know how it feels to get things wrong and that's what makes the wins so rewarding. Resilience has been a constant lesson but also remaining true to why we do this. Ultimately, it represents a chance to follow our passion through betting on ourselves to go out and achieve the dream.

Q—Rather than trends we prefer to focus on materials, craftsmanship and technique—how are you innovating within these qualities?

A—Fortunately, we've managed to forge strong relationships with some extremely talented artisans. Although we have an idea of what will work for our market, we're consistently blown away with what our supply partners bring to the table. Often these individuals come from a long line of craftspeople and their whole world is about expanding their offering. To be honest, this is what drives the majority of our innovation, from a product standpoint.

Q—What's next for Gather Co?

A—What started as an idea has grown into a global community, with merchants tapping into traditional products from all corners of the world.

These days we supply to trade and industry only—think of us as a well travelled middleman between overseas vendors, designers, and everyone else. With a firm focus on building, fostering and nurturing meaningful relationships while continuing to expand our boutique collection, Gather Co is an ever-evolving journey.