The Little Distinctions is a beautiful online space, dedicated to sourcing and selling unique and distinctive gifts, art and clothing for every occasion.

Carolyn Grant, the brains behind this collaborative project, is excited about the future of online shopping and is committed to finding the most amazing products around. The Little Distinctions is a business all about showcasing the most unique gift ideas from Australia’s best designers, artists, makers and small businesses.

It all began when she started noticing creative people and their struggles with self-promotion and marketing. Coming from a marketing and product development background, she saw a brilliant opportunity and The Little Distinctions idea began to take shape.

She shares, “I have a marketing company, 6peas, and was working with larger organisations but I had a lot of small businesses approach me about marketing advice. The biggest challenge for these creative small businesses was lack of money to spend on marketing, time spent doing “everything” in the business, attending markets that are up and down – so not enough time was being spent in the studio working on new lines, products and innovation. So in a nutshell – they spent the least amount of time doing the stuff they loved – creating!

They were too busy running a business. I wanted desperately to help – their products were awesome, the passion was evident and their enthusiasm was contagious.”

Her enthusiasm is contagious and as she talks, it is easy to see why people are lining up to work with her and feature on her site. Each new talent she finds is excitedly added to the stable of artists and she affectionately nicknames them her “treasures”. She explains, “I love the discoveries we are making and soon our customers will be sharing their finds and discoveries with us. I love my job!”

Her dream is to put a smile on each visitors face and she would love to see people start to celebrate both the large and the small occasions with little gifts. She adds, “We want people to get excited about giving and receiving gifts again, remember how much fun you had opening presents when you were a kid? That’s the same feeling I get when I discover another great creative partner.”

“We have great products, truly unique gifts – gifts that you will be proud to give and to receive. We allow our customers to be leaders of fashion and style as our creative partners create and innovate. We have some of the most talented artists, ceramicists, clothing designers, jewellery designers, accessory designers, architects and artists on board. Over time you will get to meet our creative partners and you will love them as much as I do. They are an inspiration. We will grow, I have no doubt and the creative businesses will grow with me.”

So how does she find these people? “I flew to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and little towns and galleries throughout regional Qld, NSW and Canberra. I attended markets, went into shops – that way I could see the actual product and chat to the designers. I wanted to make sure we had products that were limited edition, one-of-a-kind or limited supply – once they are gone they are gone.

Also, it was fun finding creative partners that were willing to look at personalising and customising their products and how we went about doing that. We have other great designers like Mintchi and Jaqueline Burgess who have an exclusive range for thelittledistinctions.com. I dragged my husband, my kids, my aunts and uncles, friends and mum around everywhere. My sisters started saying that I was “no fun to shop with anymore” because I would start chatting with designers and it would be an hour before I moved on. I even took my dad to the Bowerbird markets in Adelaide – that was hilarious and a funny story for another article.”

With so much to choose from, we asked Carolyn what are some of the most popular products at the moment?

“Our handstamped teaspoons fly off the shelf because people can personalise the message and they tend to buy one for every person they know. We had a great order for ‘you had me at Nutella’. My boys tell me it’s International Star Wars day on the fourth of May (get it) and so I have orders for ‘May the fork be with you’.

Our Mo Resin cuffs are very popular too. They are a mixture of French/ Aboriginal design so are totally unique and made from resin in the best colours – mint green and royal blues to a golden brown. One of my customers bought it for her granddaughter’s 21st birthday (she was over in England and the grandmother wanted to give her something from Australia to remind her of home).

She continues excitedly sharing about other products. “Our silver jewellery is very popular because we have such a different range – Pip Keane does these beautiful necklaces with a very distinctive look. I think everybody should have one of Pip’s designs. Tamara Dixon has great silver hanging jewellery that has more of a tribal feel. Michelle from Two Plums has gorgeous earrings and a great double heart that is a favourite for younger girls. And Gilly B does extraordinary silver chokers – one of my favourites has black diamonds. She also does copper jewellery with gemstones.

And the men aren’t forgotten either points out Carolyn. “For the men – they seem to love the drink holders from Mutating Creatures – great for coffee runs and beer runs at the football. And designer t-shirts from Bronzen Temple prints are great for men and older teens. And our Corona and Carlsberg fans love the glassware.”

So if you are looking buy something a little different and a little bit more unique that not everyone else is going to have – then buy from The Little Distinctions. Carolyn adds, “I love buying something that I know only a few people will have and you get asked ‘where did you get that’, knowing you probably bought the last one!”

The artwork is affordable but created by talented painters that are ready to make their artwork more accessible. If you are looking to put the fun back into buying gifts and buying things, then this site is the place to do it. Plus you will be supporting small local businesses from Australia. And that is something that Carolyn loves about her online store. “We have great talent right here in Australia – so we want to find the best and bring it to our customers.” 

We asked her what her picks are for Mother’s Day and she came back with a list of her favourites.

  • For the mum who loves flowers and silver jewellery: Pip Keane Flower Necklace. Flowers should last a lifetime and these do.
  • For the mum who  loves to cook and loves animals: Bronzen Temple tea towel with Pink Cows (who doesn’t love pink cows?).
  • For the mum who loves some colour and is a handbag fan like me: Clare double green purse. Great for some glasses, change and these colours I just love. I love pulling colour out of a black winter bag.
  • For the mum who loves something unique and loves a different texture: Two Plums beaten earrings. I love the texture and can’t stop touching them.
  • For the mum who loves French art with colour and vibrancy: Isabelle Boreham limited edition print on linen. So you can frame this and hang it or use it as a teatowel. It has a french heart and I love that. Who needs words?
  • To help mum relax and give her a day of peace and calm: Love these soy candles from Island Trading Co. and my favourite fragrance is the vanilla and coconut. A luxurious bath with these candles would be perfect on Mother’s Day with a good book and peace and quiet.
  • For the mum who loves art and is sentimental: Sea of Love hand-finished print. I love this family shot in a boat. Angie adds sparkles and colour and they really come alive. You can customise for your family but this print is beautiful and I think it sums up mums on Mother’s Day – caretaker of the kids and the pets – keeping everyone safe and happy and turning life into an adventure.

Carolyn is always on the look out for talent so keep an eye on their website and facebook as the list of unique artisans and creatives will keep growing. Plus she encourages everyone to recommend their own amazing creative finds so if you know a fabulous artist or craftsman, send them Carolyn’s way.

Keen to visit the store? Then simply visit thelittledistinctions.com and happy shopping!