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.
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.
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!
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.