FK chats to Shelley about her store Shelley Panton, located in Prahan, Melbourne. Shelley’s store will instantly transport you into a world of thoughtfully selected homewares and design, as well as a chance to mix with wonderful like minded people at ‘Instameet’s’ and ‘Meet the Makers’ and much more! Oh and you can’t go by without giving Shelley’s welcoming dog Jess, a pat!
Tell us a bit about your store Shelley Panton, the history and the product that you stock?
My studio and store began in 2009, I had been working as an event stylist and producer before the GFC. With a bit of time on my hands I took up a short course in pottery while I worked out what to do next. I had also been house hunting and stumbled across a quaint century old butchers store. I saw 88 Park Road as an opportunity to have a go at building up my own studio where I could handcraft my ceramics alongside stocking other local artisans and craftsmen. My range grew to include artful books, furniture and staples homewares.
In August 2013 we relocated to 440 Malvern Road, Prahran, as the landlords were ready to renovate the site and we had also outgrown the space. We are loving our new hood and the business has continued to grow.
Can you tell us about the types of events you hold at Shelley Panton?
As a maker and retailer who was previously tucked away in a back street, I decided to create a series of in-store events to stay connected. Each March I host a Dinner in the Studio series for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, where I collaborate with special guest chefs, winemakers and artists to showcase all things artisan for the table. We also host book signings with local authors a few times each year, plus Meet the Maker evenings where I interview other makers who I stock. And recently I have started hosting ‘Instameets’ to invite our followers to visit the studio one night to see what we do and meet others who enjoy the same network.
What is your background, as well as your work as a ceramic artist and what lead you to where you are?
After I left school I began working as a Visual Merchandiser at Country Road, followed by several years living and working in New Zealand and Italy before settling in Melbourne in 2002. During my first few years in Melbourne I worked between fine dining restaurants, catering and a bit of freelance styling work. In 2005 I began working alongside Gloss Creative and The Big Group as an event stylist. Eventually my own client base grew, then the GFC hit. This is when I took up pottery and started my first store.
What qualities do you look out for when selecting new stock for your store?
As a boutique retailer we are contacted by many suppliers and makers all year round, but we have limited space and can only take on about 10% of what is presented to us. When I look at something I have to absolutely love the item to be confident I can sell it. The product needs to be thoughtfully designed, be beautiful as well as practical, functional and made with quality materials. I also like supporting suppliers who are a pleasure to deal with and who have their product properly costed for wholesale/retail margins. I rarely purchase from someone who turns up in-store with a pile of samples, without having made an appointment prior.
My best advise to anyone wanting to get their product in-store: Retailers do two major buying rounds each year: early Feb and September. If you can afford to, send a sample with concise product information to the five top stores you want to be stocked in just before February and September, you’ll get the retailers attention and stand out from the rest. Otherwise send images and information of your work via email prior to calling for an appointment. We get inundated, so make the introduction easy for us.
What do you love about your shop and what keeps you inspired?
I love the day to day of being a trader, merchandising new stock, meeting my customers and the conversations and friendships that come out of this. I’m a hands-on operator and very much a people person. I love it when someone finds joy in a product I’ve loved finding for my store.
For inspiration: Like most other traders I find great inspiration when I travel. Where ever I go, be it local or overseas. Great inspiration also comes to me when I’m doing simple things such as shopping at the markets, cooking or walking my dog on the beach.. Stillness in my day is rare, I look forward to my quiet time, it often brings out my best ideas.
When you are not in your shop, what are you usually doing in Melbourne?
My spare time during these past few years has been quite limited due to the business going through a growth spurt on top of the relocation. What little time I do get is usually a beach walk with my Lab, or a food shop at the local markets. I most enjoy cooking for friends, cooking grounds and relaxes me. Several of my friends have small children so I have started offering to cook at their houses as a way of having quality time with them and their children. Many of my friends also own small business, so I love to visit and support their businesses and walk their streets to see what is going on outside my hood
How has your shop evolved over time and what have valuable lessons have you learnt about running your own business?
The feedback I get from my customers is that they are loving the diversity of what we stock, plus our in-store events have also become a hit as people love to connect and feel that they are a part of the community.
Valuable lessons; To ask for help when I need it and delegate the parts I don’t get time for or don’t enjoy. Going through a growth spurt means I have been feeling really stretched and can no longer manage on my own with all aspects of running the business.
It’s really important to work with people who get what you do and who can help take the pressure off. From the day I opened my doors I have relied on quick thinking and decision making, based on instinct.
What new projects are you working on for Shelley Panton for 2014?
Getting back into my pottery studio after an eventful 2013 moving and re-establishing the store. I’m also looking forward to our next round of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival studio dinners, coming up this March. I’ll be collaborating with chefs Perry Schagen and Josh Powell, winemaker Paul Scorpo, and tinker by printink to create two dinners in my Studio-cum-Store, to celebrate all things artisan for the table.
Other specific info:
440 Malvern Rd,
Ph: 03 9533 9003
Open 7 days: 10am – 5.30pm