HOT: Little Shop Of Handmade, 8 Woorayl St, Carnegie

Today we have a guest post from Celeste from Travelling in Mary Janes, who’s here to share her love and passion for handmade crafts with you and her favourite littles shop, Little Shop Of Handmade. Thanks Celeste!

Hi everyone! A quick background on myself. I am a Music Teacher by day, and a Jewellery Maker by night. I make little accessories for children and classic jewellery for adults from resin, acrylic, swarovski crystals and so on. Handmade items surround me all the time and I am currently on a year-long challenge in which I try to buy only handmade or 2nd hand items. So my love for crafts is pretty huge.

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Now, I do understand that not everybody is into making things. But have you ever thought about supporting the handmade movement by simply choosing to buy handmade? Say you have a mate’s birthday coming up, would you rather pick up something that was stamped ‘Made in China’ or would you rather buy something that was unique and lovingly handcrafted for them?

I know it’s the latter for me. Always was and always will be. And it’s not just that it’s unique. Many crafters opt to go organic and environmentally friendly by using organic cotton or by upcycling unwanted materials and junk into beautiful practical items once more. The possibilities are endless, and by supporting handmade, you not only support the handmade movement, the small businesses, you are also going green and playing your part in being eco-friendly. What’s not to like about the handmade world?

But don’t know where to buy handmade?

I have just the place. Little Shop Of Handmade is a beautiful little store next to Carnegie train station. Stepping into its threshold is like stepping into a magical world of beautiful creations and breathtaking talent. It is a little shop that supports Australian handmade in every spirit, as it not only houses the owner’s own creations, it also plays home to 60 other crafters from all over Victoria.

Bec Albinson (pictured) is the owner of this lovely little shop. A graphic designer of over 8 years, she used to design luxury gifts and personal care items from Chocolate Bar Soaps to Lip glosses for other big companies. It was mass produced, and lacking in the personal touch. Bec felt no actual attachment to her craft so one sunny Sunday afternoon, Bec decided that handmade was the way to go; resigned from her job and started up Little Shop Of Handmade .

The original idea was to be a studio/showroom for Bec as she had completely outgrown the spare bedroom at home (where many crafters originate from, myself included!). Living in Carnegie made Bec realise that there was potential for a handmade shop in the area, and when the perfect little shop front came up, she pounced on it.

The magic of discovering such a shop is not something that can be described by words. Many a times when I’m in the shop chatting with Bec (it’s really easy to spend a whole afternoon with this lovely lady!), a passerby would walk by, backtrack and then come in with this amazed look on their face.

“Why have I never seen this place before?” they’d ask in wonderment. And it’s so heartwarming to watch as their faces light up at the sight of all the endearing and heart warming creations that populate the shop. Equally heartwarming is hearing the stories that Bec tells of her customers. My favourite is of the lady who told her boyfriend that he was welcomed to “buy anything from this shop” for her.

Shopping handmade may not be the first thing you think of when you have a gift to buy. But change that thinking today, and support the handmade world. “Made in China” doesn’t need more support, neither does “Made in India”. It is time we support “Made in Melbourne” or even better yet, “Made in Australia”. Support handmade, the local little businesses and play your part in encouraging the growth of a beautiful heartfelt movement, not to mention the local economy!

HOT: Magnolia Square, Malvern Town Hall, cnr Glenferrie Rd and High Street, Malvern

Magnolia Square is a pop up market that comes to Melbourne a few times a year (and goes to other Australian cities) and it’s full of stylish goods aimed mostly for women. It’s mostly babies/kids stuff, with really ups the cute quotient, but there’s also handmade crafts, jewellery, clothing and gourmet food.

On my most recent visit to Magnolia Square I encountered some of the same stalls as my first visit, but happily also stumbled across some other new goods. Here’s what caught my eye and what went into my shopping basket this time:

Clucky handmade babies’ toys, blankets and clothing. I fell in love with the crochet rattle (more chewable than plastic presumably!) and the baby duck. Luisa, who handmakes all of the products, also told me that she’s about to start ‘Clucky Cravings’, a line of food to meet the cravings for mums-to-be.

Rabbit & Duck. Shannon handmakes all of her cushion covers, notebook covers, wallets and cases from pre-washed fabric. Being a cycling fan, I was immediately drawn to her bike-bedecked A5 notebook ($45) and told her that she should considering making tote bags for cyclists :–)

I spotted the last red polkadot raincoat made by Suzy Allen ($65) and kept circling around it for a bit before deciding to buy it. Suzy is from Brisbane and stocks a couple of stores on the East Coast with her girl’s trenchcoats, dresses, skirts and t-shirts.

Make Me Iconic. Natasha Skunca uses young local students from Sydney and Melbourne to design iconic city images and prints them on posters, cushion covers, tea towels and mugs  – from the Nylex sign to vintage Melbourne tram rolls. For a gift I bought a Skipping Girl mug ($20) and matching tea towel ($25). In about 2 months’ time she’ll be launching the wooden W-class tram complete with colourful passengers and a tram conductor!

Chook Leaf leather children’s footwear and accessories from Mornington. My camera ran out of battery at this point, so here are some images of their adorable shoes.

via Chook Leaf

I have a bit of a fixation on French kids’ clothes (well, French clothes generally), and whenever I got to the Paris sales I’d buy beautiful items for my god-daughter. Now that Paris is far, far away, I can shop at Castlebox, a new Melbourne-based range of vintage French-inspired fashion for kids aged 3-10 years.

via Castlebox

Finally, from Black Eyed Green, the Eco Cradle made of corrugated cardboard and flat-packed for easy travel. I also liked the other items from the range such as the flat-packed bench and table and Feedaway high chair.

via Black Eyed Green

If you missed out these markets, mark the following dates in your diary for the next Melbourne markets – 21, 22 and 23 October at Malvern Town Hall and 2, 3, 4 December at St Kilda Town Hall.

  • Magnolia Square, Malvern Town Hall, cnr Glenferrie Rd and High Street, Malvern

HOT: Design Made Trade, Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson St, Carlton

Design:Made:Trade was a 4 day exhibition (2 day trade, 2 day public) set up in the beautiful heritage listed Royal Exhibition Buildings and a keystone event of State of Design 2010, Victoria’s annual design festival.

The grand vaulted space was segmented with 3×3 metre VISY cardboard booths, each containing fabulous furniture, fashion and industrial design brands. It was inspiring to see how the designers transformed the same space to reflect their brand, for example by using felt circles, drawing silhouettes of gabled windows or turning it into a 50s lounge room.

A ‘no photographs’ sign was prominently displayed at the entrance so I felt a bit shy about asking permission from individual stallholders for photos unless I’d bought something from them. So unfortunately I can’t show you some of the absolutely drool-worthy lighting and furniture I spotted for my dream designer home or some of the more inventive stall decorative ideas.

Here is what ended up in my shopping bag:

Buro North Christmas tree. I’ve been eyeing the sustainable plywood Christmas tree from multidisciplinary design studio Buro North ever since I read about it in The Design Files and saw them on sale at the Melbourne Design Market. It’ll make a great hanging space for my Christmas ornament collection and for the rest of year, a nice place to hang my keys and other sundries!

Cycle Signs. Being an owner of a cycling accessories business, I’m always on the lookout for innovative bike products. Thanks to a tip from Miss Kish, I went hunting out Sydney industrial designer Trent Jansen‘s stall where he was selling Cycle Signs, reflective discs attached to spokes or the front shaft for extra visibility. He uses a water jet cutting method to fashion circles from old reflective road signs salvaged from scrap metal yards – a truly upcycled product.

Letterpress cards from Vince. Graphic design Meaghan Barbuto was part of the Craft Victoria stall. Her background is in graphic design and she’d always dabbled in letterpress as a hobby, but she’s now focusing full-time on her letterpress business Vince. Given the number of babies being born in my circle of friends, I bought a be-ribboned box of gorgeous creamy stock printed with a motif of three yellow ducks.

On the weekend public days the Australian Graphic Design Association also held the ‘Design Fete’, a contemporary take on the traditional fete by leading and emerging Melbourne designers. Here’s Stuart from design studio Chase & Galley, very convincing as the role of the Mad Scientist as he made crystals and slime, and the Psycho Tatt Parlour (something about reacting psychically to certain signs and having them inked on you – bizarre).

HOT: Preston Zly and the Red Shoes, Preston Zly Studio, Rear 219 Smith St, Fitzroy

I first saw the movie The Red Shoes as a child, fascinated by the beauty of the ballet, the fabulous costumes and the ultra-glamorous London-Paris-Monte Carlo life it depicted in scratchy 1940s Technicolour.

So I was very excited to see that one of the free events being held as part of State of Design 2010, Victoria’s design festival, was a screening of The Red Shoes. Not just at any cinema though – a screening held in the wunderkammer workshops of shoemakers Preston Zly, where everyone was invited to wear their red shoes.

We arrived at the dimly lit workshop via a nondescript carpark off Smith Street and was greeted by the smell of popcorn. Each guest was given a paper bag of popcorn, a glass of pink sparkling and a little chocolate – so cute! We were all asked to take a full –length photo with our red shoes – mine were red suede pumps by Georgina Goodman which you may have seen before. All red shoes worn to the event will form part of a photographic installation.

Inside the workshop red shoes abounded in the cabinets, on the walls and resting eerily on silenced shoe-making equipment – very Victorian Gothic.

Being early birds, we claimed the best spot – front row of the seats, behind the big mattress and cushions set out for the latecomers. My low easy-chair even had a granny crochet rug, a necessity after a while in the winter night chill.

As for the movie itself, many of you may be familiar with the classic 1948 film so I won’t delve into details – but if you’ve not seen it, get it out on DVD! The acting is a bit OTT compared to naturalistic modern methods but it’s still a lovely journey into my favourite place in the whole wide world – the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden – and the dream of ballet.

On leaving, we were all presented with a gift bag – a pair of luxurious Leona Edmiston opaque tights and a gift voucher of $100 towards a pair of Preston Zly shoes form The Signet Bureau on Gertude St. Time for some more red shoes perhaps?

Tonight is the last screening of Preston Zly and The Red Shoes – there may still be seats so RSVP at or call +61 3 9417 2176.

HOT: Buttonmania, Level 2, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne

It amazes me that Melbourne can support a business that specialises in buttons. But then again I think out of all the cities in Australia, Melbourne is the home of the artisan, the handmade and the unique, hole-in-the-wall shop.

Not generally being the crafty type I’ve never had reason to visit Buttonmania until now. Their website states that ‘Buttonmania is an amalgamation of over 8 separate button and belt businesses and private collections which have been combined to form one of the world’s most definitive button, buttonhole, belt and belt buckle retailers and manufacturers.’

This week from Monday 21 June (9-5pm) to Saturday 26 June (10-3pm), Buttonmania is having sale across the hallway from its cute premises in the Nicholas Building. Two rooms have been filled with buttons galore as well as random tubs of fabric scraps, wool, Simplicity patterns and leather strips.

Prices for most of the buttons are at $6/kg, with some special buttons being $1 or $2 each. When you think that most buttons, from say Lincraft or Spotlight, start around $1, and I got 40 buttons for $5, that is quite a bargain. Even if you’re not a button freak I think they make really good gift-wrapping ornaments (check out this idea, or this one, or this one), and in fact I may go back again later in the week for another rummage when I’m feeling inspired.

  • Buttonmania, Level 2, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne +61 3 9650 3627

HOT: Costco Wholesale, 381 Footscray Rd, Docklands

Costco was nothing like I expected.

What I was expecting was an outsized version of Aldi, full of cheap generic goods imported from random Eastern European countries, rather than name-brand products. I was expecting it to be large, but not the size of a football field. I was expecting an eclectic assortment of items, but not jerry cans of Chupa Chups or a giant 9kg Toblerone.

What can I say? It was fun having my expectations put aside by the Costco experience.

My friend Kimberley is possibly the only person I know who lives alone in an apartment in the inner city yet has a membership to Costco. Most of the clientele I can safely say live in suburbia with a couple of kids and a station wagon/people-mover/ute in tow. So I think it’s slightly bizarre that Kimberley’s become a Costco evangelist. I was convinced to go with her the day after I moved into my new house and was faced with no muesli, toilet paper, laundry powder or butter. I didn’t take much convincing to be honest, because I’ve been a bargain-hunter and bulk-buyer from way back.

You know that everything is going to be big, big, BIG as soon as you grab one of the double-width supermarket trolleys. Being my first trip to Costco, Kimberley patiently wheeled me through almost every aisle in the aircraft hanger as I squealed at the baby grand piano, an outdoor patio and giant apple pies. It was quite mad to be honest – I kept on having to say to myself ‘put that DOWN, Joyce, you do not need a tissue cashmere scarf or that copy of David Thompson’s Thai Food’. It was like an amusement park for bargain shoppers.

After 2 hours, my very successful haul included an Epsom printer, a set of Pyrex dishes and more mundane things like a mop and a large supply of toothpaste, toothbrushes and AAA batteries.  Everything = bargain and a month later I’m still working my way through most of the items. Book me in for another Costco trip in 6 months, Kimberley!

HOT Chat: Stef Dadon and Elise Kausman of Up & Comers Fashion Market

We interrupt our usual blogging schedule today to bring you this week’s HOT Chat a couple of days early. That’s because Stef Dadon and Elise Kausman are launching the Up & Comers Fashion Market this Saturday 15 May, and of course you need to know about it now rather than on Sunday.

RMIT Graduate Stef and Melbourne University student Elise are vintage sellers and fashion lovers and the Up & Comers Fashion Market is their brainchild. They’ve gathered over 30 men’s and women’s clothing and accessories stalls at historic 19th century Art Deco theatre Ormond Hall from 11-5pm tomorrow. Ormond Hall is part of the Belgian Beer Cafe, which means that while you’re browsing the market you can enjoy drinks from the bar inside the hall, sample the full bar menu or grab something from the barbecue or waffle stand in the courtyard.

Stef and Elise have kindly taken the time out from their hectic schedules to answer a few questions for MEL: HOT OR NOT today. Thanks ladies!

Stef and Elise, tell me a bit more about your backgrounds and the Up & Comers Fashion Market?

S: I studied Professional Communication at RMIT, and just graduated last December. I was initially looking to start working with a PR firm or an event management company, but we came up with the concept for the market in January, and suddenly I found myself pretty busy. I’ve since been working almost full time on the market, but hopefully after the opening this week things will slow down a little.

E: At the moment I’m studying Biomedicine at Melbourne University. It can be a bit dry at times, so it’s been great to have the market as a creative outlet.

S: The Up & Comers Fashion Market is all about uniqueness and creativity. It’s a place where you know you can come and find something that you won’t see everyone else wearing.

E: We have found some really talented new designers. It’s also a fun place to go just to hang out with friends – the atmosphere is great and we’ve got live DJs, a bar and food stalls.

How did you select the stallholders and who are some of the designers we can expect to see at the first market?

E: We select stallholders based on their originality, imagination, the quality of their designs and whether they bring something new to the market. We source stallholders from all over Australia and have also received an exciting amount of applications. And by the way, we’re constantly looking for new designers…so if there’s anyone out there looking to kick-start their collection – let us know!

S: There are so many amazing designers that will be selling at the first market. A few names are Mina & Oli, Depths of the Never Never, Harvest Powell, Loré Loré…I’ll stop there before I give too much away.

What challenges have you faced getting the market up and running?

S: One of the biggest challenges we faced was getting people to believe that the market would be a success. In the beginning, designers were sceptical and it was difficult to persuade them to come on board, as all we really had was the general concept.

E: Deciding on a name took forever! We also had to try to find the perfect place – location, size, facilities and ambience are all so important. Personally, the hardest thing for me has been trying to balance organising the market, my sporting commitments and my ridiculous amount of uni work.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

S: It’s always better to be overly professional. When you’re professional people take you more seriously. I’ve found this is so important – even in fashion!

E: If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can achieve. Over a year ago, all we had was a bunch of ideas and a keen interest in the fashion world. Since then we’ve started up our own vintage label, LadyLikes, and are now launching what we think will be one of the best markets in Melbourne.

What people, places or things do you turn to for fashion inspiration?

S: I travel overseas quite a bit, and I love wandering the streets and having a look at what people are wearing in other parts of the world. I also love looking through my grandmother’s wardrobe – she never throws anything away and has so many incredible pieces from the 60s and 70s.

E: I draw a lot of my inspiration from vintage clothing. I spend hours upon hours in op shops and markets.

What are you wearing at the moment?

S: I have this crazy obsession with skulls at the moment, my most recent purchase is a gold skull ring that has literally been attached to my finger since I bought it. I also love anything that’s oversized, black or vintage.

E: I’m really into layering different pieces to create a more exciting look. My favourite item in my wardrobe right now is a pair of high waisted black, velvet shorts that I bought from a vintage store overseas.

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

S: One of the many things I love about Melbourne is that there are always new and exciting things to discover. There’s a comedy night on every Monday at The Local (184 Carlisle St, St Kilda +61 3 9537 2633) that I’ve recently discovered and I’ve been going there quite a bit. Some of the comedians are just locals giving it a go, and then you can also see some pretty big names.

In terms of cafes, Batch Espresso (320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava +61 3 9530 3550) is a major favourite (the avocado smash is delicious), I practically live at Nest Food and Drink (117 Wattletree Rd, Malvern +61 3 9500 1221) where they make the BEST bagels and sandwiches, and Monk Bodhi Dharma (202 Carlisle St, Balaclava +61 3 9534 7250) is a great hidden treasure (if you can find it).

E: I love going out for a quiet drink with friends – and Melbourne’s bars don’t disappoint. Madame Brussels in the city is great, and of course Belgian Beer Café on St Kilda Road!

The Up & Comers Fashion Market is on 11-5pm on Saturday 15 March, then every second Saturday of the month. Check it out at Ormond Hal, Belgian Beer Cafe, 557 St Kilda Rd, Prahran (enter via Moubray St). For stall enquiries, contact

HOT: Mozi Autumn Store, Shop G03, Collins Two3Four, 234 Collins St, Melbourne

Update: The store is now permanently at this address!

Today’s post is Public Service Announcement: it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday.

And if you’re stuck for a gift idea, let Mozi help you.

Melbourne-based homewares and gift brand Mozi has set up an autumn store in the CBD until 13 June. From kitchen essentials to bathroom items, stationery to accessories, everything produced by Mozi has a gorgeous feminine touch to it – perfect for the most important woman in your life.

Their pop up store has transformed a small space into a fragrant, floral heaven, full of delightful items from Mozi‘s designers. I looove their cute packaging and attention to detail – check out the funky flourescent hanging lamps.

I actually went into the store to buy a birthday gift for my friend E (Mum’s already sorted, I’m very organised). Her favourite cake involves poppyseed (in fact, her wedding cake was lemon and poppyseed) so I thought this Orange and Poppyseed Cake recipe tea towel would be perfect for her ($19.95).

The range also includes a recipe towel for Breakfast in Bed and Hot Cross Buns (sold out).

breakfast in bed teatowel

These ceramic bowls with useful handles ($29.95) and the floral tea towels ($19.95) also caught my eye .

Mozi Autumn Store, Shop G03, Collins Two3Four, 234 Collins St, Melbourne

If you can’t get to the autumn store in time (or visit their flagship store on 769 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn) you can also buy their products online.

Even better, print out this voucher and you can redeem $10 off any transaction of $50 or more at Mozi in store or online. So get shopping!

HOT Chat: Jacqui Alexander of Skinny Nelson

So the fashion big guns are at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney this week. On the other end of the spectrum, Melbourne provides such fabulous support for emerging young designers and I like to do my bit. So today’s HOT Chat is with Jacqui Alexander, an experienced fashion designer at the tender age of 21 who designs the label Skinny Nelson with her business partner. Thanks Jacqui!

Jacqui AlexanderJacqui, tell me a bit more about your background in fashion design?

I grew up in the fashion industry watching behind the scenes for years as my father Sasha Krivitsky, and fashion mentor, ran a factory manufacturing for Saba and Scanlan & Theodore, launched his own fashion label and eventually managed three fashion labels in Australia.

When I was 17 I launched my first label ‘Jacqui Alexander’ and by 18 was stocked in Australia and around the world – I was the youngest designer stocked at British department store Harvey Nichols.

You started in the fashion industry so young! Looking back now what were the highlights from the experience?

Starting at 18 creating my first line was a very exciting ride and learning experience. My standout moment was watching, from backstage, my first show at fashion week. It’s really such a culmination of all your hard work and creative efforts and there’s nothing like seeing your dream come to life on the runway.

In 2009 you launched your label Skinny Nelson with your business partner Zachary Midalia. What’s the inspiration, style aesthetic and eco philosophy behind the clothing?

The inspiration for Skinny Nelson comes from the minimalist style and aesthetic of both Japanese and Scandinavian fashion. The eco philosophy stems from a personal philosophy of doing what we can to be a little better to the earth. Where we can use organic cotton we do because even if it’s on a small scale it’s still worth doing something good. Accessibility is important in the world of Skinny Nelson so we offer the market quality fabrications in basics with an unpretentious price tag ranging from tanks at $40 up to $160 for knitted pieces

You’ve just released your second season for Skinny Nelson (in store mid-August). What are your style tips for Spring Summer 2010/11?

Spring summer is all about light layering. Taking cropped styles and layering them on top of longer pieces. It’s something we always get to do in winter but this season sees layers working for warmer weather too.

Where do you turn for design advice and fashion inspiration?

Design advice mostly comes from my father if its something technical or for styling support I ask my fashionable friends. It’s great to get their input because ultimately they are my target market. Inspiration definitely comes from street watching and travel.

What’s a typical work day for you and what advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

There’s no such thing as a typical work day in fashion! My days are a mix of design, production and communication. Organised chaos! My advice for starting their own business would be to watch a mentor for a while or get enough experience to know all the facets of what is involved with not only being a designer,  but also running a fashion business.

Finally, what HOT places and things do you love about Melbourne?

I love eating and drinking in Melbourne! The list hot spots is way too long in Melbourne but most recently I took friends from interstate on a night out in Curtin House. We started with a delicious Thai meal at Cookie followed by cocktails on the Rooftop Bar overlooking the city. So good.

Skinny Nelson‘s Winter collection is currentlyavailable from select boutiques nationally  including Fat (VIC), That Store (NSW & VIC), Somedays/Somewhere (NSW & VIC), Subway DC and Ricarda (WA), Violent Green and Side Street (QLD) and The Spring/Summer 2010 collection will be in stores from mid-August 2010.

For other HOT chats with interesting Melburnians, click here.

HOT: Smart Alec, 71 Smith St, Fitzroy

Need a smart hat? Let Smart Alec help you.

Michael Albert, the owner of Smart Alec, stocks a large assortment of hats, from straw boaters to top hats to the Truffaux panama hats (as seen at the Melbourne Design Market) as well as stylish cufflinks, man-bags, walking sticks and leather gloves – basically all the accoutrements of a fine-looking gentleman. He must do a roaring trade around Spring Racing Carnival time.

When I was there I noticed that Michael was unfailingly polite and attentive with his customers, spending time to consider their needs, measure their heads and suggest suitable styles. Not only is his retro-styled store is a fun place to browse, but it’s refreshing to see really caring customer service in this age of chain stores and fast retailing.

Hats off to you, Smart Alec.

For other fashionable stores on Smith Street, try Lost and Found Market and The Social Studio.