A Murder of Ravens

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Rodney and Banjo the donkeys

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Quinton the mouse

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Albert the donkey

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Chester the cheeky llama

Meet English-expat-cum-Melbournite Katie Wakefield and her friend Chester, the cheeky llama .
Chester likes eating socks and collecting watches, Katie likes collage, textile design and taxidermy.

What bought these two buddies together?  A Murder of Ravens – Katie’s new homewares and design label.

Katie studied fashion and textile design, spending two years travelling the world before she fell in love with Melbourne and decided to stay awhile. She soon found herself in country Victoria, living her dream of learning taxidermy with from Gippsland local David Luxford.

Katie’s whimsical and intensely detailed cushions, tea towels and illustrations are surely the prettiest incarnation of taxidermy I’ve ever seen. Each animal character featured has a unique story,  set amongst a world of colour, sparkles and quirkiness. All creations are hand stitched, illustrated, embellished and embroided by Katie.

Katie has just launched her online emporium and Etsy store, with more local markets on the calendar soon.

August is Victorian Small Business Month ~ there are a bunch of free workshops (in Melbourne, regional centres and online) and events. Find out more here
 
If you like what you see, keep in touch with Small Talk & Co. updates by liking us on facebook here
Machine and hand stitched details

Machine and hand stitched details

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Meet the flock

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Tea towel

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The Raven

Jess Priemus is a fashion designer

 

Jess and her business partner/husband Shimul

Braid dress in baby blue and white applique

The ladies of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section

The ladies of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section

Who made your clothes? Is a question that many consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of, and a question interiors-cum-fashion designer Jess Priemus has a good answer to.

Bhalo is ethically manufactured clothing with an internationally minded aesthetic. In other words, Bhalo’s limited edition garments are ethical fashion that you actually want to wear (no offense to all the manufacturers of misshapen hemp coloured sacks out there).

 Jess and Shimul chose to name the label ‘Bhalo’ (‘good’ in Bengali ) to capture their intentions for the starting the label, with their designer/manager partnership certainly living up to this high standard.

 

Manufactured in Bangladesh, using natural hand woven textiles, printing and embroidery, Jess’ designs have found great balance in showcasing the best of ‘slow’ manufacturing techniques, whilst satisfying her designer’s drive to test new ideas in time, process, and the limitations of material. 

Bhalo is manufactured by the women of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section, in Rajshahi, north-western Bangladesh, on the riverbank of the Padma (Ganges). The handicraft program at Thanapara is independently run and has 168 permanent producers. The organization is an internationally approved member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), ECOTA Fair Trade Forum (Bangladesh), and Bangla Crafts.

Most importantly, the program assists many poor and underprivileged people, mostly women, by providing training and jobs, as well as a number of community programs. These programs include aiming to eradicating illiteracy, creating health awareness and self-employment, educating people about land rights, and empowering women by creating economic and social awareness towards a number of issues.

 Bhalo’s brand philosophy is to connect the wearer to the garment, establishing a connection and empowering our customers to know the origins of the clothes they are purchasing. This form of transparency is crucial to encouraging people to make ethical decisions towards the things that we acquire in our lives – clothing included. 

 

What is apparent, when you read Jess’ words, is that she and Shimul care deeply who makes your clothes, as well as what they’re made of. Jess’s passion for ‘slow’ concepts of time and lifestyle, innovation and building community are embedded in every fibre of Bhalo’s garments.

And to top it all off, Jess’s ‘kind of manifesto’, is a definite cut-out-and-keep gem for any ethically minded creative, no matter their chosen medium. 

 

Business:  Bhalo

Owner: Jess Priemus

Location: Perth, Western Australia

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Jenny Kulas is a leathersmith

 

Jenny setting up Klaus Goods at Menske, Collingwood. Image credit – Katie Goodwin

Klaus Goods is a Melbourne made handcrafted leather and canvas goods company. Jenny’s products stand out in the crowded accessories market by doing what is often the most difficult for any designer – stripping the product back to its most utilitarian state. Luckily for us, Jenny’s trained eye for aesthetic reduction compliment the timeless qualities of leather to create beautiful, highly functional objects of desire. This dynamo designer sure knows the way to an architect’s heart, as our recent catch up revealed influences of the Bauhaus, film and travel on the production of Klaus Goods.

Business:  Klaus Goods

Owner: Jenny Kulas

Location: Melbourne, Victoria and online 

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Zoë Lea is a sock designer

 

Werken hard

Werken’ hard (image via Unempire Instagram)

 

Zoe Lea has a passion for high quality, stunning design that goes well beyond those small tube shaped things you put on your feet – this lady has big plans and a great creative ethos!  Unempire has a stand out online presence, and Small Talk & Co was super keen to meet Zoe in person to find out what drives this creative mind – community, fast fashion, and RiRi.  N: slight language warning

 

Business:  Unempire

Owner: Zoë Lea

Location: Melbourne, Victoria shipping to the world!

 

What you do?

I make socks through a teeny little business called Unempire. I’m hoping to branch out into other things in the near future, but baby steps right now. Before I did Unempire, I studied fashion design at TAFE and I worked for a bunch of other companies for nearly a decade, doing accessories design, accessories buying, and a bit of clothing and graphic design.

TAFE was great for technical skills in the fashion industry. In my first job, I was immediately useful; it was the same skills, the same programs. I learnt so much working for other people, because essentially you come out of study and you know so much, but you’ve got no idea what to do with it. My experience in accessories meant I knew my own business could be a success, so when I eventually became disillusioned with the bigger companies profit, profit, profit objective, I was confident in creating my own space to balance that out with a focus on design, quality and style.

 

Unempire merges all that experience with my total love/hate relationship with ‘fashion’, I hate trends and cookie cutter imitations, and I feel there’s just toooo much STUFF in the world. Unempire is about merging good design with quality apparel that lasts – I don’t think that you have to sacrifice one for the other.

 

Apparel can be reasonably priced, functional and unique. Essentially that’s the ethos behind the Unempire brand. It’s about bridging a gap in the current marketplace, which is dominated by three equally weak types; functional, but really boring, cheap and mediocre, or really cool looking but ultimately disposable.

 

Mmm croissants! Morning Tea Unempire style

 

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Sherise Fleming is a photographer

Self portrait

 

Sherise Fleming is in love with photography, and this passion is evident in her stunning images – capturing the love between family, friends, partners and pets. But loving your subject is nothing without a love for the process of what you do – Sherise is in love with the no-day-is-ever-the-same reality of being your own boss, and the ultimate challenge of being creative for a living. This very humble and talented entrepreneur divides her time between Gippsland and Melbourne, photographing all the best bits of lives well lived.

 

Fast facts

Business:  Sherise Fleming | Photographer

Location: Gippsland and Melbourne, Victoria

 

What you do?

I am a photographer. I started my photography career working in the commercial sector , but now focus my creative energy on capturing beautiful families and documenting weddings. I am based in Melbourne but travel all over for work, and especially love getting back to my home town in Gippsland, so I market myself in this area too. 

In love – an engagement shoot in Melbourne CBD

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Hanako Kajiya is lucky

Hanako at work!

Hanako at work in her studio

In her own words, Hanako K puts her successes down to luck. But Hanako.K is more than just lucky. Because luck implies her successes are devoid of effort or responsibility. Hanako.K is a hard worker, a self-made (wo)man, who has an almost unbelievable string of work and life experiences have lead her current mix of occupations; founder of her own accessories label, shop girl extraordinaire, small business enthusiast, community radio stalwart and all-round style icon. And you know the best bit? In Hanako’s own words, ‘I sleep in most days’.

Small Talk & Co. sat down with Hanako recently to chat craft, community and what it means to be a ‘designer’. This post runs a little longer than Small Talk & Co.’s usual, but believe me it’s worth it!

 

Fast facts 

Business:  Hanako.K
| Location:  Etsy.com and Lady Petrova , Melbourne, Victoria

 

What do you do/how did you get there?

I started crafting when I was 14, really young – from memory my grandma’s were really crafty, so that influenced me and I started knitting, sewing and learning from them what was possible. I taught myself how to crochet in primary school, I think I was just bored!

I was born in Japan and came here to Melbourne when I was about nine, so language was an obvious barrier at first –  I didn’t get out too much, stayed home and kept myself busy with craft projects. That’s how I taught myself how to crochet, I started doing Nuigurumi, the Japanese soft toys, which was really good practice and actually ended up being my label’s first product.

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Katie Boyle is a florist

Katie surrounded by her creations

 

Katie Boyle is the award winning owner/operator of Pollen and Patina Florist in Sale, Victoria. Katie describes the store as like no other florist in Gippsland, boasting Sale’s largest selection of fresh blooms, from classic roses and lillies to more unusual tropical’s and seasonal selections. Pollen and Patina has gained a reputation for beautiful styling and decor, with an old-meets-new twist. Katie’s fresh take on floristry is inspired by her journey across Europe, working with some of the world’s best designers and has taken Gippsland by storm. Small Talk & Co. was recently honored to learn from the very energetic Katie what makes her business tick.

 

Fast facts

Business:  Pollen and Patina, Florist  

Owner: Katie Boyle

Location: Sale, Victoria

 

What you do?

I’m a florist, with further studies in Visual Arts. I worked my butt off as an apprentice and managed to win seven awards and a $10000 international study tour in floristry through Box Hill Institute. Being a super independent gal, I found myself setting up Pollen and Patina to offer Gippslander’s a new way of thinking about floristry, educating them about my trade and skill and keeping myself sane after returning from three months overseas studying floristry.

The shop combines my two loves, flowers (pollen) and old vintage furniture (Patina) – look that word up in the dictionary, most people think my name is Patina! I’ve recently won more national awards and look forward to achieving new and greater things soon both within my personal career and growing Pollen and Patina as a business.

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Barbara Chung is a designer

Barbara in action

 

NannaB.x Concept Store is the creation of graduate architect and maker of things, Barbara Chung. A self confessed paradoxical ‘sleepy insomniac’, Barbara’s day job is at small architecture firm allows her to spend late nights working with polymer clay, timber and leather to create eye catching jewelery pieces. The NannaB.x concept store is evolving from its genesis in polymer clay necklaces to provide an outlet for various ‘handmade experiments’, testing and refining material possibilities.

 

Fast facts
Business:  NannaB.x
| Location:  Online – Melbourne, Victoria

 

What is NannaB.x to you?

NannaB.x began as a hobby, a way of testing creative ideas. I started with fashion accessories because they are of a small scale that tests very easily.

At the moment it is evolving as a platform, because I really enjoy making things, creating and sharing ideas beyond polymer clay. I love having the freedom of just doing whatever you want creatively, the flexibility of testing and rejecting or refining new ideas.

I started NannaB.x working in with my personality, I’m a bit of a homebody, I have a large amount of small creative ideas, and I created NannaB.x as an outlet for all those random ideas that keep me up at night!

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Launching soon…

 

Small Talk & Co. is

a collection of conversations

a snapshot of entrepreneurial minds

an innovative new platform supporting passionate small businesses

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Small Talk  &  Co. profiles those individuals whose ambition goes beyond <blank> titles. In the era of the slashie, what does it take to be an entrepreneur?

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A big hearted, small business blog. I am not a journalist. I do not have an MBA.I am a graduate, inspired to promote and share the thoughts of innovative small business operators.

Conversations are interviews conducted by me, about your business passions and shared here at SmallTalk&Co.

Each conversation profile includes: Name, Business, Location, Contact details; 5 short insightful questions about your business, some snazzy images and a pop quiz! Dont worry, nothing like school quizzes

Contact me if you are a passionate small business owner or entrepreneur who would like to be profiled as part of the launch.

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