FK talks to Christopher-Hussein Bril from Melbourne shop Corky Saint Clair
Tell us a bit about Corky Saint Clair and the concept behind it.
We started Corky Saint Clair in 2003. We made every single thing in the store by hand: t-shirts, jewellery, stationary, scarves. We wanted to sell our own work and the work of other Melbourne artists. Over the years the concept has changed and we aren’t as strict about the ‘Made in Melbourne’ theme. It’s more like ‘We make jewellery in Melbourne and here is other stuff we like’.
What is your background and what lead you to where you are?
I worked as a screen printer for a long time but my heart really isn’t in that anymore. I drew some characters in 2006 and started making them into brooches and necklaces. Later I studied silversmithing with Janet Marnell-Brown who is the president of Silversmithing Guild of Victoria.
What makes your store unique?
The shop fit out is very foresty and cave like, with crystals and tiny birds hanging from every surface. We have a little studio down the back. Most people kinda get that we can customise jewellery to a degree, so often part of the buying and selling of necklaces involves the customer choosing their own chain. We also do ‘interpretive’ gift wrapping for jewellery, which everyone seems to like.
When you are not working, what else are you doing in Melbourne?
I study Creative Writing at Melbourne Uni. I belong to a poetry group. I enjoy taking photos and blogging.
What challenges have you faced running and setting up your own business?
Our store’s crazy underground location has lead to some very dramatic retail moments such as The Accident of 2008, when the road above us collapsed and crashed through our ceiling. We lost everything and had to start from scratch. This year we had The Flood of The Century, where the entire arcade was flooded to knee high levels. There was a waterfall cascading down the staircase, the water was rising so fast we thought we’d lose everything again, but then the SES managed to unplug the drain, allowing the water to drain away.
What labels & product do you stock and what are you always searching for?
We mainly sell Corky (our in house label) but we have other local jewellery labels such as Victoria Mason, Black Jewlz and Red Cloud Designs and Elk. We also sell Bird House Design from New York. The main thing we look for in labels is whether it matches our range – I look for anything that is animal shaped, cute, or graphically strong (i.e. easily read silhouettes). I also collect skull shapes and robots.
All the specific details:
Shops 3 & 4 Degraves St Subway,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Phone: 03 9663 5559