"A slight ode to nostalgia; something familiar, memories, and shapes from the earlier days" is what 34-year-old Melbourne native Mike Sullivan wants others to take away from his brand, Secateur Me Baby. For those who aren't yet full-fledged plant parents, secateurs are pruning shears. Back in 2019, Sullivan bought a fresh pair for plant propagation around the time when he was trying to decide on a brand name with friends. A light bulb went off and the seeds of "Secateur Me Babyyyyy," as Sullivan writes, were sown.
Secateur Me Baby started out as an Instagram page where Sullivan shared his love of horticulture and composting. In August 2020, during the pandemic, the digital passion project physically matured within Sullivan's "humble garage in Thornbury, Melbourne," he tells Hunker. "It started simply with a lot of time to create; an old, underpowered, rickety jigsaw with a blunt blade; and one incredibly long beam of timber."
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The first Secateur Me Baby item was the Wave I plant stake, which drew a crowd of interested buyers into Sullivan's DMs. Now, the brand is an entire line of plant stakes that counter the plain, utilitarian greenery supports we're used to. Alongside them, you'll find tables, plant stands, and candleholders that range from about $32 USD to $141 USD. Sullivan also offers shipping to the U.S. and U.K., and the average cost of shipping to the U.S. is around $34 USD plus $7 USD per additional item.
Featuring playful curls and swirls made of wood, powder-coated steel, and 100% recycled plastic, Secateur Me Baby's plant stakes use vibrant and pastel colors to catch the eye and bring forth memories of childhood play. "I draw a lot of inspiration from nature," Sullivan adds. "Organic forms, animal tracks, patterns, colors, shapes — you name it. Dreams, music, my amazing friends, and long runs help me [sieve through] the constant flow of ideas ... and spit out tangible ones."
Nowadays, after a run or a good night's sleep, Sullivan begins the creative process by outlining ideas in a sketchbook. He then works in Illustrator to create digital documentation, which becomes a 3D model that allows him to better understand the idea, coloring, and spacing. Next, the artist reaches for his tools — no longer a blunt jigsaw — to form a prototype.
Despite earning a bachelor's degree in business at the Swinburne University of Technology, and later becoming a head coffee buyer who traveled around the globe, Sullivan was called back to his creative roots once the pandemic hit. As a child, he loved crafting, drawing, and building with LEGO, Meccano, and Technic sets. He also comes from an artistic family — his dad is handy with tools, his late mom was an interior designer, and his brother is a talented photographer and videographer.
In addition to his beginnings, Sullivan is also encouraged by his environment. "This creative industry of manufacturing and design is filled with incredible people who help point you in the right direction ... I admit I wouldn't be where I am without the community," says Sullivan, who also culls inspiration from where he resides in Thornbury, Victoria, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
"There's something magical here," he explains. "This area is full of creatives and people doing their own thing. This quirky little suburb, this house I reside in now, helped me facilitate my change in vocation. The old garage that backs onto the property inspired me to fill it with some tools that help surge the creative mindset."
Now based out of a professional studio space in Kensington, Sullivan acknowledges that his business is "forever evolving." His work will always embody the energy he wants to put out into the world — which you can clearly see in the happy, comforting colors the artist utilizes — but he is currently working on home interior items like stools and bookcases.
"I am looking to go larger [with] bigger pieces, sculptural works that are heading to the great outdoors also," Sullivan reveals. "Project-wise, I am looking to enhance more sustainable practices and protocols. We have just closed the loop on all waste in our recycled line of products. Even though we use 100% recycled plastic, we now recycle the recycled offcuts into new products!"
At Secateur Me Baby, Sullivan proves that dressing up your plants can be beneficial for all. In giving your flora a pillar of support they can happily climb, you're also giving yourself the gift of plant decor that actually adds to your home and, thus, your life.