champions of aussie made

 Videographer Chelsea Morley of  Tiny Disco  capturing David Kiper from  Catcher Coats  as he steps us through the wonderful 43-year-old history of his Australian-made coat business. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

Videographer Chelsea Morley of Tiny Disco capturing David Kiper from Catcher Coats as he steps us through the wonderful 43-year-old history of his Australian-made coat business. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Did you know that Queen Victoria Market has the largest concentration of small businesses in Australia? And many of them still make and sell Australian products.  
I was very happy to work as the photographer on the "Champions of Aussie Made" campaign that was launched last week, alongside videographer Chelsea Morley from Tiny Disco. The campaign highlights certified Australian-made products that are sold in the general merchandise sheds at Vic market. Spending a weekend at the market interviewing the owners of these small businesses was so interesting and by the end of two days I felt like we had been invited into a wonderful community of new friends. Many of these traders have spent their lifetime selling wares at their stalls - such dedication turning up year around,  day-in day-out to the outdoor market stall! Often they are second or third generation stall-holders. And to say nothing of the ever increasing pressures of manufacturing their products in Australia.

 Bruce Pham holding up a selection from his  Bruce Goose  range of high-quality Australian-made merino wool socks. His family have been selling socks and hosiery at the market since 1987. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Bruce Pham holding up a selection from his Bruce Goose range of high-quality Australian-made merino wool socks. His family have been selling socks and hosiery at the market since 1987. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

I made some fantastic new discoveries - Bruce Goose merino wool socks have kept my feet warm all winter and in style to boot! They even kept my toes super-toasty in the snow! 
My fingerless merino gloves from Danny's Knitwear have also contributed to my winter comfort levels and are very useful for tapping away on my keyboard in our cold studio at the Nicholas Building. Not to mention the stunning line-up of Australian designed and made clothing + accessories at the beautifully curated Pussy Cat Black. Bettina has a very fine eye for quality ethical fashion.

 Australian made and designed clothing hanging at  Pussy Cat Black.  Three cheers for retailers who understand the profound value in supporting local, ethical and independent makers. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

Australian made and designed clothing hanging at Pussy Cat Black. Three cheers for retailers who understand the profound value in supporting local, ethical and independent makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

I really take my hat off to these businesses dedication and resistance to the temptations of producing off-shore.  As local manufacturing shrinks and the skills-base dwindles it is harder and harder to produce in Australia.  As a society we need to think very deeply about whether we are prepared to forego our local industries. There is a direct correlation between consumer purchasing behaviour and employment, local economic development and prosperity. As someone who has run two retail businesses in Australia I can definitely say that despite the challenges the rewards are great.  When you buy Australian-made and grown products, you can be sure you are keeping your family members and friends employed. Not to mention being part of a vibrant and positive-thinking community of like-minded folk!

emma byrnes
  Cactusland's  spiky display at the Queen Victoria Market - just opposite the Jam Donut Van. All plants grown in Melbourne. Photographs by  Emma Byrnes.

Cactusland's spiky display at the Queen Victoria Market - just opposite the Jam Donut Van. All plants grown in Melbourne. Photographs by Emma Byrnes.

 Andrew Thompson (left) of  Cactusland  and Ariel Lewin of  Danny's Knitwear.   Photograph by  Emma Byrnes. 

Andrew Thompson (left) of Cactusland and Ariel Lewin of Danny's Knitwear.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes. 

Chelsea has produced a series of short videos that will be released weekly over the next couple of months - they are definitely worth viewing. Here is the story of David Kiper from Catcher Coats to kick it off.

I look forward to some long-standing relationships ahead with some of the traders I met through this project. Many thanks to you all for participating.

Em x