From the bright lights and organised chaos of New York City to the sleepy, quaint Coast village of Eumundi, Larry Reston has led a cool and colourful life.
He feels as much at home working and living in the laidback Noosa region as he does sitting amongst top designers and style influencers in the fashion capital of the world.
Catwalk shows and buyer meetings were a part of Larry’s life for more than 40 years during his successful career as a fashion agent.
“I started in fashion actually when I was about 20 years old,” he tells salt.
“I started working as an agent for Esprit and Cherrylane Australia, and worked in ladieswear for 43 years representing labels from all over the world.”
A Queenslander at heart, Larry chose to base himself in Brisbane but travelled abroad to stay abreast of design ideas, looks and forecasts for the seasons ahead.
Then came 2020. As the fashion industry began to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Larry began to question his future. In a selfless move, he handed over his workload to younger colleagues who needed an income to provide for their families. Larry used his new-found freedom to reconnect with his creative self, and as fate would have it, to develop a business that is making waves in more ways than one.
Sealine Co’s core business is in handmade doormats.
But these are not your usual doormats, and frankly, would you expect any less from this fashionista?
Larry, an artisan at heart and with a salt of the earth soul, repurposes recycled rope into hand-crafted creations. Terracotta, navy, turquoise, black – the colours are beautiful, and the finished products are attracting the attention of interior designers, architects, and Sunshine Coast businesses who sell out of the mats as fast as Larry can make them (he has made a “couple thousand” since he began).
Much to Larry’s joy, the mats have found homes in locations ranging from Finland to Malaysia, and the US.
In addition to a selection of Coast-based stores, the mats are sold at the Original Eumundi Markets where you will spot Larry, with his salt- and sun-bleached beard, chatting to shoppers and sharing tales of his weaving passion.
To understand Larry’s story, we must first go back to his childhood. Raised in Redcliffe, Larry discovered his love for weaving during craft lessons at primary school.
The young students would make nets for local fishermen, and it was an activity that Larry loved. Little did he know then that 50 years later his life would come full circle.
That skill has served him well in life – all of Sealine Co’s products are hand-woven. There is absolutely no machine work involved in the making of the mats.
On any given day you will find Larry hard at work, with the help of son Kal. Larry’s converted Noosaville warehouse acts as both his home and workshop.
Larry has honed his weaving skills into a perfect art, and his inspiration can come from anywhere – the ocean, clothing, handbags.
But his passion goes beyond the artistic realm. Sealine Co is about so much more than simply making a dollar.
What started as a hobby has become a means for Larry to connect with the environment, culture and community on a global scale.
“Basically, in 2020 I saw a documentary about how these ropes were banned in America and Europe. The government was in a buy-back initiative and repurposing the ropes into something else,” Larry says.
“I had contacts in India for clothing labels, and found they were making recycled rope out of fishing nets. The net is very durable. The marine float rope I use is a pest in the ocean. It’s bad for marine life.
“There are ships going around the world scooping it up, trying to clean it up. The product never breaks down so repurposing it into an all-weather mat is perfect. It lasts forever.
“They take these old nets, old plastics, and break it down into resin pellets, which they then remake back into rope. The product is so tangled and matted that they have to remake it. They put it through rope-making machines and then I repurpose the recycled rope into something to keep it out of the ocean.
“I make dog leads and key rings with the offcuts so that my waste is zero. I use everything so nothing is going into the water or landfill.”
Needless to say, Larry never expected his doormats to impress the market quite like they have.
“[When I began] I went into a local store in Coolum and said, ‘I’m making these mats and people are liking them’. They took about 10 to 13 mats in a couple of colours.
“They were opening on the Saturday. They phoned me Tuesday and asked if I had any more mats as they had sold them all.”
For Larry, rediscovering his weaving and artistic flair has been like a “rebirth” at the age of 62.
“I actually thought I’d be quieting down,” he laughs.
“It is very strenuous working with the rope. I go through a pair of leather gloves every couple of weeks. It’s not easy work, but I enjoy it.
“My mats are coming out better and better, and I still have time to go surfing.”