Tell us a little about your background and what path led you to open Handmade Highstreet?
The owners of this shop are myself (Kath Chown), Benjamin Williams and Ryan deVeau.
I am a member of BrisStyle and have my own Etsy store called bunnyhornet. I mainly make polymer clay accessories which I sell weekly at the Davies Park West End Markets. I have always wanted to own a shop after working in retail for over 10 years but felt that the bigger businesses were choking out the independent shops and making it impossible to make a living. Since I have been investigating the notion of starting this handmade store and the idea of sub-letting space for artisans, I have found that so many people in our community want this kind of shop in their area. These are the people who are disenchanted with large corporations and want to directly support their local area and businesses.
Benjamin works in disability services and has an education in the dramatic arts. He has been the President of a small university theatre company called Underground Productions and this is where his seed of creativity was born. He has been desperate to begin his dream career of furniture restoration ever since we met and we plan to make this an avenue which he can explore by selling his creations through the store.
Ryan studied Art at university and was a successful graduate. His love of drawing and watercolour has been hiding behind his various jobs in the administration and banking sectors. His creative talent needed an outlet and this store can help him to display his amazing works.
Our team is dedicated to treating our contributors with respect and providing them with a space where they can be proud to display their work. We want every customer to feel like there are strong values residing in the management of the store. This means that we look after our own and provide a happy place to co-operate.
Tell us what Handmade Highstreet is all about?
We are aiming to give independent handmade artisans a marketplace in which to display their goods without the need to sit at a market all day. Keeping rent low will be a focus so that the contributor can make the most of their sales and profit. After the agreed rent is deducted from their sales, they will receive 100% of the remaining money.
We also have plans for a tea service which will showcase the hand-blended and ethically sourced Herbal Teas of KT Teas by my friend Kate Maxwell.
Where did the name Handmade Highstreet come from? When I chose the name for my own Etsy store, bunnyhornet, I just chose something which sounded quirky and fun. People have since told me that they weren't sure what my business was as they couldn't work it out from the name! So when we were talking about the name for this store, I wanted it to convey exactly what would be sold there. Hence Handmade Highstreet sounded catchy and true to our products. I asked each of my friends to listen to the name once and then the next time I saw them I asked if they remembered it - and they all did!
How does Handmade Highstreet support independent artists and crafters and/or the handmade community?
We believe in handmade, having artisans among us. We also believe that small business has a place in modern society even though it sometimes feels like big corporations and businesses have the market-share in retail. We would love to give like minded people the opportunity to support local artists. We would like customers to be able to see and touch all the items in store and educate them on the makers and their process.
Giving handmade artisans a viable option for selling and customers a place in which to appreciate the complexities and impressive skills which these artisans display is paramount.
How can local designers and crafters get involved with Handmade Highstreet?
We can't get enough of Brisbane and Queensland crafts and art. There is so much talent here and we want to nurture it! So we would love anyone who has the desire to sell their beautiful wares to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does Handmade Highstreet have any exciting upcoming events?
Our Grand Opening is on the 12th December and we will be hosting an evening soiree at the shop from 4-7pm with a glass of free bubbly and a chance to see the amazing and talented crafts of Brisbane's finest!
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
At the moment we spend 90% of our working hours on our email accounts liasing with our contributors to ensure we have a full-to-the brim shop when we open! We have also been busy restoring old furniture which will house the beautiful wares supplied by our contributors.
When we open we hope to give customers as much opportunity to shop instore as possible with extended and weekend opening hours. Our aim is to revitalise the area of Annerley in which we are situated and bring the masses of wonderful residents back to our high street.
How do you promote Handmade Highstreet?
Currently we promote through our Facebook page, Twitter account (@handmadehighst), Blog and through attending markets in the Brisbane area.
We are having a fancy-schamncy webpage designed by a good friend and when that is up and running, we hope to use this as a great tool for spreading the word.
What is your favourite item in the shop at the moment?
We are so excited to have some amazing and talented artisans onboard; Aqua Door Designs, Has Bean, Kiss My Patootie, Hermia's Wishes Paperia, Off the Hook, Mini Mayhem and Wind and Water Designs just to name a few!
What’s in store for Handmade Highstreet in 2012 and beyond?
We hope that Handmade Highstreet will be a busy and well-patronised small business.
Eventually we aim to offer space for small workshops, knitting circles and meetings. It is our hope that we can make a space which our community can be proud of and which is vital and vibrant!
A big thank-you to Kath for taking the time to chat with us! We look forward to seeing Handmade Highstreet become a vibrant hub for local artisans.