OUR mission statement

MADE ON THE LEFT was founded in 2008 by independent designers to support Western Australian creative talent. We hold bi-annual handmade craft markets to showcase local designers.

Being on the left hand side of Australia no longer

means you'll be at a disadvantage.

Our aim is to support all creative designers and events showcasing independent labels. MOTL is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organisation. You may wonder why we promote other markets besides MOTL; it’s because it’s not about us, its about you; the buyers and sellers of indie wares. Here at the blog, you’ll discover up to date information about our latest market, the low-down on some of Perth’s emerging talents, other opportunities for artists and designers and a little bit of fun stuff too. It’s all right here… welcome!

Wednesday, August 7

Stallholder Profile: St Saviours

St Saviours are Matt Bale and Kate Hulett. They were first time stallholders at the July 2013 market and here is a bit more about them:

Tell us a bit about your business.
The concept for St Saviours actually started when Matt and I were on holiday in Perth a few years ago. We re-trimmed one of Matt’s hats while we were in Margaret River, and chatted about how it’s impossible to find non-mass-produced and affordable hats suitable for everyday wear. We both already had a thing for hats at this point…
Fast forward a year and we held our first market stall in London selling a load of hats we’d trimmed with vintage materials, flowers, feathers, interesting ribbons and so on. We sold one hat at our first market, and were completely stoked!

We slowly attracted a dedicated following, and were soon selling weekly at London’s Sunday Up Market, and at summer music festivals across the UK. We ended up quitting our ‘day jobs’ when a buyer from Topshop picked us up for their flagship Oxford Circus store… then Anthropologie on Regent Street… then Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. The most exciting day was when Kylie Minogue bought one of our hats. We then saw a photo of her in a St Saviours hat, with Stella McCartney at the Madonna concert (cue overexcited screaming)!!

St Saviours was named after the converted vicarage we lived in, in East London. It’s where we did all our work. We left London in January 2013 to start a new life in Perth.

How does the UK compare to Perth in the handmade trade?
We have been doing A LOT of research in Perth, and are totally excited by what we’ve seen. There appears to be a super healthy handmade scene – I think the difference in Perth (when compared to the UK) is that there are less opportunities for the designer-makers to be exposed to the consumers. For example, less weekly markets, less festivals with curated shopping areas, less independent shops looking to stock local product, and so on. That’s why design markets, pop-up shops and support from existing retailers are so important – these opportunities encourage growth and development of the creative, handmade scene.
The great thing is that the people of Perth are really supportive of the markets, interesting shops, art/artists, and so on, so it’s the perfect storm of fantastic local supply, and eager demand.
In London, a lot of the markets are starting to become overrun with the ‘same-old-crap’ – lots of mass produced jewellery and fashion imported straight from abroad, so you start seeing different stalls within one market, selling the same stuff. This is so tragic, and means the people who really hand-make their goods are struggling as their products are inevitably more expensive and are swallowed up by the mass-produced rubbish. In addition, the customers start staying away. Why bother coming to a ‘designer’ market, when hardly anyone there is actually involved in the design process?
We found that organisations running the markets In the UK had lax screening criteria for their sellers – this is totally opposite in Perth. It’s like applying for a flipping Visa trying to get into Perth markets! But that’s great, and means customers know they are seeing products which are unique, interesting, well made, locally made, and so on.
Also we’ve seen some fantastic and innovative products, designers and artists in Perth – there is a real buzz in the creative scene which is evidenced through the fab markets, the pop-up shops and the concept stores dotted about town.
The key issue I can see in Perth, and this would apply to many designer-makers, is the access to, and the availability of, materials. It can be a struggle sourcing raw materials locally, and therefore you’re forced to ship items over from the East Coast, or abroad. And of course this means your costs increase before you’ve even started.

What inspires you?
We are very inspired by colour, texture and pattern, so you will see lots of our hats make use of interesting colour combinations and textured trimmings. Matt is currently obsessing over patterns and is designing some patterns for printing onto silk for hat trims and linings, and ladies scarves.
I guess we have an underlying aim to make hats for ‘people like us’, so that inspires us when we’re designing. We want ‘people like us’ to be able to afford them, and have access to them, and want to wear them – we have no grand aims to become the hat supplier to The Queen!

What do you love most about selling at markets?
The market is where we began our hat trade, and we both adore it (though, to be honest, the weekly Sunday early mornings/late nights in London did become mildly tiresome).
The markets are the best way to really ‘sell’ the features of your product to a customer.  I can’t count the number of people who have said “I’m buying this hat because you’re so passionate about it.”
I always say that talking to customers about your product is like going on a City Tour. You learn so much more, and the buildings, monuments and history are much more meaningful when you are with a guide. As a market trader, you are that guide.
And we really love that – chatting to customers about the hats is great fun. We completely missed talking to customers when we launched in Topshop, so much so that we’d often go in and hang around our stall in order to chat with customers.

What materials do you use?
Almost all our winter hats are blocked with wool-felt and the summer styles are generally woven paper, or Panama. We have worked with fur felt, straw, siminay, and other fabrics, but wool and Panama are our favourites. The trims range from millinery petersham, feathers, silk flowers, vintage silk ties, leather, laser cut vinyl… all sorts of things – trimming is the fun part.

What is your favourite part of the creative process?
We don’t work with collections; we are slap-dash and make things as they take our fancy. So this is really fun. If we spot a great silk scarf in a vintage shop – we then see how many uses we can get from the fabric. Pill box hat cover, a bow tie, hat trim… we love transforming vintage items into new products. It’s also exciting when we have new felt colours coming in for the hats, or a batch of newly dyed ribbons. There is always a flurry of excitement when there are new colours to play with…

What’s been your most popular item or line to date?
We sold thousands of hats in Topshop in Oxford Circus, and overall - the ladies fedora shape, was probably our most popular. It’s easy to wear, can look both smart, and casual – and (lucky for us) celebrities are always spotted wearing fedoras. We made an affordable, interesting, not-mass-produced product, which really resonated with the audience.

What new products are you working on?
We are looking into doing more unique hairpieces and hats suitable for weddings/races – without going down the fascinator or huge-80’s-style-hat road.
We are also really keen to continue make our hats with local supplies – which is proving tricky so far…

Where can we find you?
We are in the process of working out how we are going to get our hats ‘out there’ in Perth. We have a very exciting concept in the pipework, which entails hats and more… but it’s too early to talk about that now. In the meantime – we will be signing up take part in Perth’s designer markets, including of course, Made on the Left (if we make it through the screening process!).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done guys!!!! You have done excellent and I love how you have stayed original and kept running it passionately. Just don't sell out!! Keep it up!!

Marina'a Ambrosia