Online Shop Feature: Leeloo

FK chat to the lovely Angela D’Alton about her online store Leeloo just turning 4!

Tell us a bit about Leeloo, and the concept behind the online store.
Leeloo is so very many things!  It is an online store which provides a step-up for young Australian designers and artists to have some exposure, where our lovely customers can pick up a unique treasure for themselves or as a gift!  We have lots of cute things like jewellery, brooches, tote bags, zines, homewares and lots more! We also have quite the popular little blog which highlights happenings, events, exhibitions and news on Australian art, design, fashion, music and film.  We have a team of guest bloggers and of course both myself and Renee write over on the blog too about whatever tickles our latest fancy.

Leeloo is also an organiser of art exhibitions.  In the past, in collaboration with great people like the Finders Keepers and Frankie Magazine we’ve had exhibitions at Sydney’s aMBUSH gallery such as the Once Upon exhibition, and DisBand, which we also took to Melbourne’s No Vacancy Gallery. Last year at the Melbourne Finders Keepers market we also held the Drawn From Fashion exhibition, where artists chose runway images from previous Melbourne Fashion Festival shows and created an original artwork.

We are an ongoing supporter of the Finders Keepers markets too!  As such you will see us at every market with a stall full of our incredible treats. We just love helping out our designers and the artistic community in Australia by raising awareness and providing education, support, and a nurturing environment.

Who are the team behind Leeloo and what different strengths do they bring?
I’m Angela, the founder and director of Leeloo.  I am in charge of customer management, I am the curator of the designers, the organiser of the business and project manager of exhibitions, I build and configure the web store, co-ordinate the blog, including writing my own blog posts. I bring an artistic eye and the skill to make decisions with an honest friendliness to the store. I guess I’m founder, director and creative director, as well as the technical person behind the web store.

Renee Anne is my second in command, but she is so much more than that. Renee helps out with a huge amount of hard work and enthusiasm, specialising in graphic design, photography and flourishes Leeloo with her artistic talents, but she essentially embodies the spirit of Leeloo. Renee has a strong passion for art, design and fashion, for all things Australian and eco, and to boot she’s probably the best friend a girl could ever have. Given that she started as one of the Leeloo artists/designers, it is her determination and hard work that has meant she is one of the most prolific illustrators and designers in the community.

Lara is our some times administrator who helps us with spreadsheets and administration and numbers and organising stuff when she can!  Lara is very detail oriented which means the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed!

The dog behind the team is Leeloo herself.  She’s a magical and special dog who makes you feel like the most important things in life are playing, sleeping and eating. We think she’s on to something.

When did you launch your online store and what was the motivation?
Leeloo began almost exactly 4 years ago, in November 2007 we opened our online doors!  It began as a way for me to combine my passion for Australian design, art and fashion, with the skills I’d accrued after years in various I.T., corporate and retail positions. I originally intended to have an artistic life, but ended up in 9 to 5 jobs.  I wanted to stop that happening to other people. I’ve always thought that the arts in Australia needed additional support, so I wanted to find a way to create something where both designers and artists felt that they could have help getting a foot in the door, whilst being able to have a cute place to shop online.

You just returned from the Etsy Conference in Berlin – what were some of the highlights?
Wow where do I start?!  The conference was an amazing gathering of people from all over the world who wanted to hear cutting-edge speakers discuss sustainability and small business in the new “post-collapse” economy.  The conference was meticulously organised by the Etsy team in Berlin headed by Matt Stinchcomb, with all of the trimmings.  To boot, the core of the conference was packed full of educational information and inspiring and motivational speakers who are leaders in their respective industry.  It was entertaining and friendly, and Renee and I made connections with like-minded people all over the world. Amongst many of the great talks, a must see is Douglas Rushkoff’s lecture.  Truly amazing.

What do you look for in the products you stock at Leeloo?
We like something that’s cute, useable, kind of “on trend”, a little bit quirky, something that we haven’t seen before. We like things made with love, quality and an eye for detail.  The main drawcard is whether or not the pieces make you smile, or open a window of curiousity where you want to know more about the item or the designer. They of course have to be made in Australia too!

What makes your store unique? And what inspires and motivates you daily?
Our store is unique firstly in it’s level of girly prettiness! We also pride ourselves on our friendly customer service!  Our daily motivation and inspiration comes from seeing the changes that come from within and around the indie Australian community and the feeling that we’re making a difference to that no matter how small it might be!  On the odd occasion we’ll receive the most simple email from a designer or a customer, where the gratitude is expressed in such a way, that it gives you such a massive BURST of motivation to keep on going!  We were heavily inspired on our recent trip overseas and our daily dose of inspiration via the web is definitely essential, for images as well as information.

What advice would you give to designers that are looking to be stocked at Leeloo?
Friendliness and organisation is key!  We love a great product from a new artist and designer but there does need to be some professionalism and thought put behind your designs and your label.  Think about the overall aesthetic and Leeloo and whether your goodies will appear to be cohesive in the mix.  Follow Leeloo on Facebook and Twitter and read the blog, see if Leeloo is a match to your own brand and whether it’s the right fit for you.  We now only have two yearly intakes for new goodies, so it’s important to keep your eyes peeled on those locations for information on submissions too!

What exciting projects and collaborations do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Our ongoing collaboration with the Finders Keepers market (from their Hope Street Market days) has been integral to Leeloo.  It is the most important collaboration that we have and we’ll continue to attend the markets with a stall packed full of Leeloo goodies!  We’ve just had the Brisbane market in November, and the Sydney market coming up in December and we can’t wait!  To add to all of the excitement, we’ll once again be co-ordinating the art exhibition at the Sydney Finders Keepers market, “On The Wall” where we will showcase a range of Australian art right near our stall!  We are also keen to create another art exhibition a la Drawn From Fashion for the Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2012, as well as more exhibitions.  There’s a few other projects going on but I can’t tell you about them yet! (as much as I want to!)

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