Reflections | Larissa Haddad

Larissa is the founder and creative behind CoTheory. Having pursued her passion for creating high-quality and aesthetic officeware, she has artfully created a brand which she not only loves, but one that helps create inspiring workspaces for others to enjoy. We chatted to Larissa about life, career, fashion, and of course, jewels.

1. How would you describe what you do?

Where do I begin with this beautiful journey. I am the founder of CoTheory, a premium home and officeware brand and a mother of 3 which is the ultimate gift in life, giving me  plenty of happiness, love and fulfillment. I feel like this needs to be said, because  two years ago I navigated my way through being the best mother I could be, along with focusing some of my time on starting a reputable business. Some of my most challenging times was truly the most rewarding as I learnt all about starting a business, design and manufacturing and everything in between. I still wear many hats and absolutely love what I do. Admin, business relationships, packing orders, social media - you name it, I do it!

2. What did you do before this, and what was the turning point in deciding to launch CoTheory

My career before I went on maternity leave revolved around sales and business development. I really enjoyed engaging with and meeting new people. When I started working on CoTheory, I had already been out of the workforce for 4 years, and within that time I had 3 children, some of that time being during Covid. It just felt like the right time to start something new and engaging. On reflection, I felt instant happiness when I would work on the business at night when our children were sleeping and more so when I could find gaps throughout the days. It was the right call at the time and I could really start to see my business plan coming together in just a few months.

3. Tell us how you typically start your day? Do you have any daily rituals?

Our house is full of energy in the morning and getting 5 people ready for their day is not always an easy task. Once our children are organised and ready for school, my husband usually takes our children to school while I clean up after breakfast and tidy the house. George (husband) and I work from home most of the time, so this is a crucial part of our day to ensure we are being as productive as possible and able to work in a clean and clutterfree space. One tip I have for a smooth morning is to do as much preparation the night before, for example pack school bags and check the weather and lay out children’s clothing, works every time!

4. What inspires your products, and what is your favourite piece from your latest collection?

I was inspired to create a range of officeware for the Australian market because I simply couldn’t find elevated pieces here. I know there are brands out there that touch on this space, but I couldn’t pinpoint a brand that specialise in high quality, aesthetic products for the workspace, like they do in Europe and America (check out keyword hashtags on TikTok and Instagram like #homeoffice - this world and interest in creating a beautiful office space is huge!). A core goal of my business was to find a gap in the market and capitalise on it, and I feel like our story here has just begun. My favourite piece from our new collection is the Eclipse Large Sculpted Bowl. This amazing centrepiece, weighing 8.5kgs, was designed and manufactured within 10 weeks to launch in good time for our feature on The Block, and we were inspired by our desire to incorporate more meticulous curves in our range. It’s one of our best sellers and pairs beautifully with our Eclipse Small Sculpted Dish & Incense Holder.

5. Do you have a favourite quote that helps keep you motivated?

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.” - George Bernard Shaw.

6. When you have some downtime away from work, where is your favourite place to go? 

Home really is where the heart is. We work from home and we have three young children, so if I’m not working I’m spending my time with them or completing house tasks. We find plenty of fun and creative things to do in and around our home, however we do love to keep busy on the weekends. We love to see what’s on in Melbourne and visit pop up events, head to the local park with our dog Teddy and also regularly visit family and friends.

7. What would be your advice to aspiring Founders or anyone starting their own business?

My advice would be to stay hungry. If you are seeking something more (or new) in your life, you will create it with pure passion and determination.I pursued the idea of creating CoTheory in the midst of raising three young children during Covid. I spent hundreds of hours on this project at night, during sleep times, quick phone calls at dinner time and early morning emails before our children woke up. I also leaned on others to make this dream a reality. George has been my biggest supporter and tremendously helpful in every way. Our family and friends have rallied around us, wishing us success and have also assisted us with looking after our children at times. George and I attended the AGHA Gift Fair in February in Sydney for 5 days, and our parents looked after our children. This catapulted our wholesale journey (now at 14 stockists Australia-wide) and we are just so grateful.

We also leaned on experts in the industry and people we knew. I would randomly call companies and individuals for information. I spent hours researching how to start a business, what’s the next step, how do we source manufacturing, inspiration, branding, tone of voice, budgets, business model, the list is endless. My advice in this space would be to invest in people or businesses who specialise in certain areas. I do not understand branding and typography at a professional level, or copywriting, or plenty of other tasks I outsourced and believe it set the foundation of CoTheory - and we continue to grow our business to this day with these set foundations that we built.

8. How would you describe your style in three words?

Elevated, Minimalist, Sophisticated.

9. Do you have a style icon or current muse?

Blake Lively and Lydia Millen - can’t choose, so classy yet chic.

10. How does jewellery influence your mood or personal style?

My jewellery collection is very important to me and my personal style. It gives me a true sense of self-expression and I enjoy the process of selecting my jewellery for the day or for an event based on specific emotions or feelings I may have. Every piece holds sentimental value and jewellery really does boost my confidence and self-esteem.

11. Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery, or one that evokes a special memory?

My wedding ring holds a special place in my heart. Not only do I find it beautiful, but it symbolises the start of my life with my husband and everything we have achieved and created so far in our lives together. I also love my initial necklace featuring an A, X and S, for all of my children. I think of wonderful memories we have created with our children when I see and feel my necklace!

12. Which piece from Elle Forma resonates most with you?

I am truly obsessed with all of the pieces in the Elle Forma range. I’ve already put a few pieces on my wishlist, which include the Paperclip Cascade Earrings, Ariana Necklace and Halle Ring. I feel like they all have an extraordinary ability to evoke emotions, narrate stories, and embody the essence of the wearer. And the craftsmanship looks incredible.


Photography | Sam Honiss, Sabi Collective