I took the lease on this shop just before taking a redundancy from Penguin. I had a feeling shit was about to hit the fan at work and I had a few plan Bs up my sleeve including my work at the Herald Sun and other freelance editing. The shop felt like it would be a good little money spinner on the side, but mainly a space for me to edit, write and create my textiles products, which I had begun while on maternity leave with my son.
At first, I really wanted to be strictly vintage – homewares and fabric – with my handmade items (made with vintage and specialty fabrics). It became apparent to me fairly quickly, however, that wasn’t going to work. The shop branched out to stocking beautiful American quilting fabrics in vintage designs, books and locally made crafts and jewellery.
In my time at the shop I met so many people who entertained me with their stories and offered so much about their lives. I’ve met some absolutely fabulous locals, who are now good friends, plus the odd crazy here and there. It’s been a cosy space in winter (cos I like to crank up the heater). Someone told me once that because I close the doors in winter to keep the heat in, it reminded them of those little shops in Europe (they feel the cold there). I like that. It’s also been a bit of a hub to ponder life’s challenges and have a good laugh as well. Some customers have had me doubled over in fits of giggles.
I also remember enjoying creating those fantastic window displays, including my favourite: the very first Christmas window. I built a little Santa house perched on a snowscape adorned with reindeer and pine trees. The house was lit up at night. There was a fab lounge chair in the other window beside a very 60s fake Christmas tree. I imagined Don Draper sitting in that chair with a glass of scotch and a fag. Looking hot (but let’s not forget he’s a prick). Of course that was the window display that caught everyone’s attention including the loved-up couple from the Summer Dayze festival, who dragged a futon to the Don Draper window and made love. I know they did because they left the condom sticking to the wall and I had to get a pair of gloves from Woolies and peel it off myself. As well as the scattered Pringles on the futon. Well . . . you need a snack after the deed. I wasn’t angry. I still laugh about that.
I must admit, though, it wasn’t all smooth sailing – I had to kick a few kooks out and I nearly tear my hair out every time that old Greek lady pops in to trash my fabric display. I tried to be so nice to her, but she’s mean as cat shit. There’s also toothless Shane, who told me he used to work in an abattoir (jeepers) and the other alcoholic who I had to boot out ‘cos he said creepy, sleazy things. And who could forget laughing man, who wrote cryptic messages on tiny shreds of paper for me (don’t ask). But the funniest is Kung Fu Shane. When he’s sober he looks like he could split a brick; when he’s pissed he looks like he’s been hit over the head with it. Regardless, the man has core strength.
But one thing is certain: I can’t get a thing done in this shop. What with all the chats, coffees and Kung Fu, my editing work has to wait till after dinner and sometimes into the wee hours. I tried to build a wall with a cabinet in front of my sewing machines to hide behind when I had a deadline, but you all found me! Not that I mind, of course, because I like you heaps. But the problem is that the shop doesn’t make all that much money and the money I make from my editing and writing goes back into my pocket. It makes sense to just do that. I am a lot wiser about what it takes to run a retail outlet, too, and I’m not sure it’s for me. It takes lots of strategic planning and a lot of patience. Also, you can’t give stuff away, which is what I wanted to do most of the time. I’m a shit salesperson I’ve realised. Or maybe I’m brilliant . . .
Another thing I realised is that I like making stuff but I don’t like talking about it all the time. Sorry. But I do love to share. And that’s what I plan to do every week on this website. I like to offer people something and this way I can do it and still do my editing work as well. I can also share my knowledge about writing and all sorts of other things in the world that are interesting. It’s really great. I mean that.
But, any way, back to Rusty Rose . . . I think the thing Rusty Rose will be remembered for is our unique, bespoke and fabulous furniture. This is one area I was able to stay true to my recycling and vintage roots. I can’t take credit for the upholstery of the furniture and I must thank my dear cousin Elizabeth from Flaunt Design for her excellent work, but I will give myself a pat on the back for assembling some striking and unlikely fabrics and design choices for the upholstery. If you were lucky enough to purchase one or a pair of our gorgeous chairs you can be assured there is not one like it anywhere! Consider yourself lucky! I think lots of people will remember the window displays with those upholstered pieces and remember our distinct and bold style. I’m proud of that.
So . . . goodbye, but not goodnight.
A big thank you to Serra Studio, Focus on Art, Monica McNab, Calma Candles, Raeburn designs, Elura Designs, Dylan Henry and Flaunt Design. You guys are all fabulous.