Written on the 10 August 2012


RACHEL Smith (pictured left) has a motto: Make your product look as good as it is.

Smith has started design company Harmonica with long-time friend Kate Maloney (pictured right) and says exceptional products can fall by the wayside because they don’t look good enough to grab a person’s attention.

“A lot of people take the attitude with design that it is a luxury,” says Smith.

“They then tend to cut design from their business expenses.

“In terms of value for money, if you make a product that looks as good as it is without a huge expense, people will buy it.”

The pair met while working as designers for Billabong in 2004.

Smith has operated under her own name in the marketing and design field for a few years and worked for clients including the Australian Institute of Sport, Australian Canoeing, Dolphin Surf Craft and Pontoon Sports.

Since teaming with Maloney six months, Harmonica has picked up a number of new clients including award-winning Gold Coast architect Robertson.

Harmonica specialises in branding for small businesses and individuals. Services include logo design, print and digital graphic design work, environmental graphics and garment

Smith says many businesses regret doing their design work on the “cheap”.

“There is a cycle going on where people do things cheap then they come back and realise later they need to get it done again, but well,” she says.

“If they got it done properly at the outset, they could have saved themselves some expense.”

Harmonica is operated out of Smith’s home at Robina which helps keep overheads low. It also allows the business owners to maintain their outdoor Gold Coast lifestyle, as they are keen surfers and kayakers.

Smith’s husband, Tate, is captain of the Australian men’s K4 flat water kayak team set to compete at the London Olympics. In between his training schedule, he has filled in as an “office junior” for Harmonica.

Smith says the Gold Coast’s "exciting" creative community is growing fast.

“Our talented friends who we met while at Billabong are now also establishing names for themselves as designers in their own right,” she says.

“It makes for exciting times, and we love the culture of creative exchanges that exists on the Gold Coast.

“There are so many rad designers, illustrators, photographers and web gurus right here in our backyard. It's great to be amongst it.”

Plans are underway for Harmonica to have an online shop, which will act as a “creative outlet” for the owners and will sell prints, tote bags, notebooks and clothes.






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