small business

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

tea & sympathy

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Earlier this year Anna from Sweet Polka approached me to work alongside her on the online rebranding of local tea artisan Tea & Sympathy. Anna would be responsible for the overall art direction of the project plus the word-smithing and I would generate the photographic imagery, design the look-and-feel of the new website and then rebuild the whole thing in Shopify.
Tea & Sympathy stocks a limited, hand-picked range of premium leaf teas - from classic blends, to many interesting bespoke Chinese and Taiwanese teas not otherwise available in Australia. Angelina Yannuccelli who founded the brand sees the range as an extension of her own personal tea odyssey and immersion in tea culture.
I first met Angelina when she established the brand back in 2012 so I was aware of the knowledge and passion she applies to her business and the calibre of the range she offers. When I visited her old web site I realised that it did not reflect the authority and perspective that she had garnered over the past five years in the tea business. The site was full of great information but it was cluttered and disparate, having been added to in a piecemeal way over time.

A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

 We decided to simplify the user experience and elevate the imagery to a standard that matched the quality of the tea for sale. Anna and I spent an afternoon photographing images to create a general mood for the brand - we wanted the feeling to be tangible yet sophisticated to reinforce the brand's authority on teas whilst reflecting the personal touch that Angelina brings.
We would also streamline the way the individual product was presented by photographing the teas in ceramic bowls provided by local homewares wholesalers - Marmoset Found. I must say this was a very pleasurable experience - spending the day with Angelina and her encyclopaedic knowledge of her range, visually honing in on each tea as a separate entity and observing the colours, textures and smells. 

Chrysanthemum flower tea  in beautiful ceramic bowls by  Marmoset Found.  Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

Chrysanthemum flower tea in beautiful ceramic bowls by Marmoset Found. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Once the imagery was finished I built the site and Anna edited the copy. And, as of last week, it is out in the world ready for the next stage of the brand's growth.
I wish Angelina all the best with Tea & Sympathy. Having worked with her I understand that the motivation behind her brand comes from a passion for excellent product and supporting artisan growers and small family farms in tea-making traditions that have been passed down over the centuries. Wonderful!

Em x

PS - If you are in the market for specialty tea my favourite whilst working with Tea & Sympathy was the Jasmine Pearls - just sublime. 

ten tree

Roof top garden design by Ten Tree Garden Makers. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Roof top garden design by Ten Tree Garden Makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

A new client of mine is the talented "garden-maker" Samira Heale of Ten Tree Garden Makers . Her mission is to make painterly gardens in unexpected places and, if this rooftop garden she has executed in inner-city Melbourne is anything to go by, she is definitely hitting the mark. 

Samira has a breadth of experience as an artist, horticulturist, permaculturalist, and bush food expert. She works alongside her husband Sam Buckley who has a wonderful knack for executing beautifully resolved buildings and designs. Together the pair make magic!

Samira came to me as a self-confessed luddite. She has little interest in the cyber world but knows that in order to run a successful business these days an online presence is almost mandatory. Taking this into account we chose to present a simple, low-fuss and elegant portfolio of her most recent projects. Of course documenting the gardens was a lovely part of the job - losing ourselves in the little details that makes Samira's gardens extra special.
Over the coming months we plan to photograph more gardens to add to her already very special gallery of projects. And the duo have plans to design arbors and garden sculptures for sale through their web platform.
All of that is yet to come. But for now, go and have a little look at what we have made together.
Hopefully it will inspire you.

 Em x

sticky chai

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My dear friend Joanna Fowles and her equally talented partner in life and love, Jonas Allen, have their fingers in many creative pies. They are one of those collaborative couples that seem to conjure and manifest all sorts of wonderful ideas and initiatives for themselves and the world at large. One of Jonas' latest projects is The Organic Tea Project - an idea that has been brewing since Jonas was a young boy growing up in a small utopian town called Auroville near Pondicherry in Southern India.
Immersed in the tea culture from a young age, Jonas and his friend (and now business partner) Alok met when they were three years old. Well into their adolescent years the pair schooled together and continued to share tea experiences. In their words:

"It is in some ways natural that (our) mutual appreciation of tea should manifest in an interest in uncovering the secrets and the whereabouts of the finest brews to found The Organic Tea Project. Our mission is to bring back quality organic tea drinking. We feel something is lost in the appreciation of the tea process, the preparing of tea and drinking. We talk about great wines or great coffee, it's all about the purity of the soil and the environment that its grown in. Tea has exactly the same elements to consider. Taking a tea break allows you to slow down, contemplate and appreciate...a tea somehow helps to create the right pace to the day. The Organic Tea Project is about the ceremony and the details of what makes a quality tea. You could say our challenge is to bring back the tea break."

One of the things that I love most about this project is that it brings together two childhood friends who now live on opposite sides of the world - yet they are side-by-side again. They are working with each other in a professional business relationship whose actual research began in their boyhood. The business also involves a wider circle of folk that they both grew up with in Auroville. All of those pieces fitting back together give the brand and the company greater depth and power.
When visiting in Sydney a while back Jonas asked if I had some time to take photographs of the tea. We had a very small window open to us and I managed to take a couple of images that he now uses on his website. I traded my photography services for some generous packages of sticky chai - enough to last me for a good while. I must say that I was extremely satisfied with the swap. The sticky chai is the best I have tasted and the high quality of the ingredients does not go unnoticed. It elevates the chai experience to a sublime level and certainly encourages the ceremonious feeling that the company is seeking in their brand. Keep your eyes peeled for this wonderful tea experience.

Em x

space + craft

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes  

Photograph by Emma Byrnes 

I was recently commissioned by long-standing Melbourne printmaking studio - Spacecraft - to formulate a visual strategy for their brand; produce a bank of images for use on their website; and host in-house training for their staff on maintaining a strong, cohesive style for their daily social media needs. Considering my history as co-founder of Harvest Textiles screen-printing studio; having worked in communications/media for many years; and my love for all things visual - this was a dream brief!
What an incredible small business Spacecraft is and a real life example of small-scale, local production. I spent time getting to know their dynamic approach and running between their print studio and Gertrude Street store, taking photographs as I went. The small team screen-print all of their textiles in their Collingwood studio, then walk the fabric up the road to their beautiful Fitzroy store, where their in-house sewing genius, Rosie conjures it up into homewares or clothing. Then it is ready to place in the store for sale. They also undertake loads of collaborations with artists which keeps things interesting for the whole team. It was an absolute pleasure spending time with such creative and cohesive folk - they have such a strong spirit and a dedication to handmade and locally-made artisan products. 
The image above is of Stewart and Danika from Spacecraft hand-printing a Northern Rosella from their Ornithology series. As part of the studio work process, the table backing cloth also takes impressions from each and every print, slowly unfolding as it's own, stand-alone artwork - layers and layers of labour and love. Just wonderful work.
The results of my strategy job will roll out over the next few months and I am excited to watch the brand begin to truly communicate their elegant aesthetic.
Em x

 

home sewing élan

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My friend Nita-Jane always turns heads. Her eye for style and fashion is acute and most of her garments are made from scratch. And when I say 'from scratch' I mean that NJ conceptualises fresh ideas, translates them into patterns and then constructs beautiful one-off pieces. She truly is an original and marches to the beat of her own drum.
And the good news is that she now shares her aesthetic with others as her new enterprise Pattern Fantastique sells sew-at-home digital patterns. The other bonus is that Nita-Jane wants her clients to extend their technique and sewing skills and encourages discussion and problem solving via her blog.
Despite having what at first glance appears to be a fairly limited range of designs available for sale, on deeper investigation you will find that each pattern can be appropriated in many ways with dramatically different outcomes depending on slight alterations and the fabric used. In fact, Nita-Jane is hosting a workshop at Pop Craft Studio in March to explore the myriad of ways the Aeolian tee (pictured above) can be executed and she will guide people through assessing fit, fall, prints and texture. For anyone who wishes to inject élan into their home sewing - this workshop would be for you.

Em x

light filled creative space

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My friend Olivia recently launched a new creative space in Melbourne - The Assembly Rooms. It is a light-filled and very serene environment - absolute tonic for the soul and a fabulous place to exercise new artistic muscles.
I have been spending time there taking photographs and am very inspired to step away from the dinner mayhem at our place and sign up for some evening classes. I'd like to give oil painting a go. Those pumpkins are by students who have been painting oils for only 3 weeks! Now that is inspiring. 
I dropped by a Wood Block printing class the other night and the students in that class were also working up some magic.

If you live in Melbourne you might be interested in checking out their upcoming classes.
See you there.
Em x