I'm fairly confident in saying a common goal or dream for anybody starting a brand is to one day, have their very own retail space. A retail space where they have all of their hard work and pride and joy, all in the one space and proudly on display for the "world" to see! And one where they can do whatever-the-hell want, whenever they want...
Well, we made our dream come true.
Chris (Authority Clothing) rang me excited one day telling me he found the perfect retail space in Bondi Beach (On the main road to and from the beach for those who don't know) and that it would be perfect for a pop-up shop. Now as exciting as that was, when all the cards are laid out, realistically, we are 2 smaller scale, independent brands with 0 retail experience, not much money to our names - not to mention that we are from another state. With those factors in mind, initial excitement was a little muffled by the reality that this was going to be a huge, huge and potentially detrimental risk for the both us IF we could even find the money or balls (excuse me) to do it in the first place and pull it off.
Luckily for us, we both have balls. We said we'd been fantasising over something like this since we've first started our labels 2 years ago, so that was it - it's NOW OR NEVER.
So cool, we're doing it - the first immediate alarm was the rent. Our contract strictly stated the condition of our temporary lease was that we had to commence within 7 days (so this day next week) of signing the contract. When you don't have not much $$$ to your name (especially in excess) thats a scary thought. So essentially, if we were going to sign, we we're going to give ourselves 7 days to build, fit out and launch the space. It doesn't take much to realise this was a big feat on it's own even if we both lived next door, as well as the fact that I was actually interstate working in Melbourne until the Monday. But, the space was too good and we we're already mentally committed.
I called home and had the guys in the studio start preparing the load - the load that I was going to pack onto my ute and drive interstate the same day I got home (which was our only option as there wasn't enough time to ship the quantity we needed - and even if there were, we didn't have the money). So while I was handling my business in Melbourne, the guys back home were preparing...
Now as you can imagine we were so damn excited about this opportunity and all wanted to give it our all, so we did, and in typical fashion (completely irrespective of the already crazy deadline) I made it all that little bit harder by deciding that we were more than a "shop" or "brand" and were going to integrate our studio into the space. So, not only did we need stock, we also needed all of my tools for the build, most of my art supplies and all of bits and pieces for display ...oh and that we absolutely NEEDED 100 brand new, laser engraved, Few and Far Collective coat-hangers for our side of the store and launch party. It was at this point everyone hated me but I had the vision and knew (/hoped) it would change...
I flew home Monday morning, packed my clothes, loaded the ute with the gear and Joe (one of the crew) and we started the mission to Sydney. 16 hours later (cheers traffic!) we arrived and got straight to work..
The shop was in a fairly horrible state in terms of cleanliness - which was fine, just unexpected, so we called the boys down and spent majority of day 1 cleaning. From the front of the building, right to the back, from the ceiling to the floor. After we did all the dirty work and cleaning what felt like 45 years worth of dust, grime and faeces (not really), we decided that we were going to completely re-paint the entire place to give it that fresh white feel that we were aiming for - and I'm so glad we did because come day 2, aside from the million favours we owed and are forever in debt for, we walked into what felt like the Burj Al Arab compared to the what we walked into the day before (which I have been to and feel like it's still a fair assessment all things considered).
Okay, so we're clean, now it's time to "build" the shop. I say "build" because coming from a trade background it doesn't feel right using build and milkcrates in the same sentence. Moving forward, it was now time to find and "borrow" the 60 odd crates needed for our intended plan for the base of the shop. We managed to find them within a few hours and no one was hurt, injured or arrested - the only negative was Chris lost his phone during all the escapades. So we had the crates, now it was time for our dreaded and anticipated budget-breaking hardware run. The run ended up being cheap, as my trade background and understanding saved us making foolish mistakes, overbuying and scoring off-cuts and cover sheets for $0 so we actually came in under budget.
The last real hurdle was somehow creating the hanging racks for the shop. We had Chris' old metal clothesline from his complex (they tore it out the week before for a renovation - whats the chances of that!!) that I believed we could convert into hanging racks with the aid of chains - which I/we did. And on the way home that night, as fate (?) would have it, I parked up right next to big pile of "junk" - which is where I found the 2 pieces of furniture that you can see on the Few and Far Collective side - all they needed was a few screws, nails and a paint job.
So with the "build" done, all that was left now was the entire set up of the shop - stock to displays to signage. Oh, and the party that we'd been advertising and due to kick off in about 24 hours.
Called the boys again, and we had about 10 of us at one stage, doing anything and everything to help (I'm sure we set about 15 Guinness World Records) while Chris organised the party and I hand painted all of the signage and hung all of the artwork.
Okay so now it's about 5pm on the Friday and the party kicks off in 1 hour - and we are all desperate for a celebratory drink. The shop is finished and looking pretty damn amazing all things considered.
We're all tired and stinky so we go back to shower, de-stress and grab the last few last minute supplies.
6pm rolls around ...and we have more guests than we anticipated already waiting out the front to come in - luckily our friends 42 Below Vodka and Applejacks Cider know how to party and gave us much more booze than we had in mind and Chris ordered double the fresh coconuts (for spiking with vodka) that we originally estimated - because we needed it. The shop was packed and the party was pumping from 6pm till about 9:30pm when the consumption and supplies finally started to slow - thankfully because it was when it quieted down a little that we realised we hadn't got much footage.
So with the launch a HUGE success - both from our personal goals, attendance, feedback and sales - it was time to tidy up and prepare for our first day of trading.
FYI - We managed to somehow keep the entire fit out of the space for LESS than our modest? genius? or ridiculous? budget of around $500. Crazy right? And would you believe the most expensive thing in the whole shop is our $75 door mat? That said, it is a very nice and durable mat but pretty mind-blowing considering the rest of the shop cost less than $425 dollars. Come to think of it, we surely would have set another Guinness World Record for the cheapest fit out in Bondi too ha ha
So without any further ado (apologies for the novel... I'm sure you can tell I'm excited to share the story), this is one of our proudest works of art, collaborations and achievements - Now Or Never.
Photo Credit: Billy Zammit