Stepping into Collaborate Store is like visiting the house of a really cool friend. Unique prints and quilled paper art line the walls, charm-like earrings, natural perfumes and oversized crystals sit alongside glittery bowls and effortlessly chic organic cotton clothing hangs from a rail. Behind this tempting selection are Catherine Evans and Charley Swain, two ladies who are always happy to talk fashion, design and art with customers old and new. Here, they share the story of how Collaborate Store came to be part of SO:ME Space.
How did the two of you meet?
Catherine: Back in 2014 we both had pop-ups in SO:ME Space; Charley was selling In The Bowl homewares and I had my label, Itutu jewellery. In the quieter moments we got chatting and we just clicked. Then it just so happened that a few months after our first pop-ups, we got put into SO:ME Space at the same time as each other again, and we got to talk more and were always dreaming and joking about having a shop of our own. In 2015 we came across a shop that was vacant in Greville Street, Prahran…
Charley: I got a random call from Catherine saying she was standing outside a shop in Greville Street and did I want to go in to it with her. Two weeks later we moved in and opened Collaborate Store.
Catherine: Having a bricks and mortar store and working together was a much bigger commitment than a pop-up.
Charley: I wasn’t sure how we’d go because I’m a bit OCD when it comes to hanging pictures properly, but I make up for it because I’m her best earring customer…
Catherine: And my house is full of her homewares!
Catherine: We had a good customer base here – customers knew where to find us. So we did another pop-up in SO:ME Space with the intention of letting them know about our Greville Street store. But it just so happened that the Mr Simple store in SO:ME Space became vacant at around the same time, so we decided to close the Greville Street store and move in there instead. We’ve been in our current shop in SO:ME Space for about nine months now.
What makes SO:ME Space special?
Catherine: It’s like an incubator. When we first started there was nothing like this in Melbourne in terms of the vibe. We wanted to give small businesses a chance, to help those doing the same thing as us.
Charley: Everyone here is running a small business so they have that connection automatically. Without doing our individual pop-ups in the SO:ME Space we’d never have met each other, and without being able to collaborate our shop could never have happened. The store’s vibe is because we’re doing it together.
Catherine: It’s like a little village here. It gives you confidence to have a go.
Charley: This is a good testing ground. We like talking to customers and finding out what they like.
Catherine: We stock the brands that we design, too. My brand of jewellery, Itutu, is exclusive to Collaborate Store. Charley paints coasters and tiles and has some other homewares products in mind too, so watch this space.