The Space2b Carlisle St shop closed down temporarily this week, but the spirit of Space2b is still around and a lot of work continues in the background!
I went to Janine to find out where it all started.
JESSICA: Where did the idea of Space2b come from?
JANINE: I always kind of had that idea, and then a friend of mine, Jane, who worked for Tracing with the Red Cross, introduced me to Abdi from Somalia. He was one of the first families she helped to re-unite. One day as we were sitting in my kitchen having a cup of tea he said to me “my dream when I settle is to establish myself as a tailor.” It was that one little sentence that inspired Space2b. I thought, this is just one person out of so many with creative skills, who just need the opportunity, the connections, to live their dream.
JESSICA: How did Mariam get involved?
JANINE: I met Mariam in her RAW garden, and I used to talk about Space2b all the time. Each time it would inspire her more and more. She would always say “you Westerners, you’re always worried about the who and the where and the how and the why, you never do anything! Just do it!” And so I decided to ‘just do it’! That day, I walked down the road and there was a sign saying “pop-up shop short term rent” and I thought ‘this is fated, what’s the worst that could happen’? The next day Mariam came to my house and told me that she wanted to be my partner!”
So we did it together! How ironic that she is also from Somalia!
JESSICA: How did it start with all the designers?
JANINE: As a designer myself I used to sell my clothing, Jiniku in markets and was part of the designer community. The idea had been in my head for years, and I began to see the connection between the two. Many independent designers want to make their range in Australia in small quantities. Many new migrants have the skills to do this and also want to run their own creative business. I believe that “Without connections, you are nobody” which is so true isn’t it? You come here as a migrant, and nobody knows you. Nobody really cares who you are. You don’t mean anything to anyone. You’re defined by your friends, your family, your work. We need connections to thrive.
JESSICA: Are you happy with how Space2b has developed so far?
JANINE: I must say, if I thought about the hard work, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I cannot believe the amount of people that have come on board. It’s just taken off. It’s no longer about Mariam and myself – it’s its own identity. That’s been just amazing. At the very beginning the shop was such a mess. As Mariam said, if I had thought about everything, there’s no way I’d have done it! But everyone came and just gave their time. It’s quite amazing. We get wonderful comments from so many people. What I hadn’t realised was the potential, not just for new migrants and refugees, but for everyone involved. Work experience, practising English, meeting other people. It’s multilayered.
JESSICA: What do you see for the future of Space2b?
JANINE: With time we want to partner with the RAW garden so that there will be a garden, and a little café. With the addition of the food and garden, people can come and get the whole experience, and bring their kids. I see Space2b developing as lots of small businesses, the shop, gallery, creative workshops, events, small manufacturing and designer studios. In the background we will be working together with new migrants and refugee, creating, sharing and learning. It is a two-way process. Some will develop their own businesses in jewellery or fashion for example, others who would like more support may make products for the Space2b brand, some will become employed in the various areas of Space2b. For example, we’ll have someone running the gallery and a few running the shop. We will start to develop a small manufacturing businesses producing products for established Australian designers, like sewing cushion covers, screen printing or making a small run of shirts.. So we will be building mini-manufacturing, locally. The potential is huge and exciting!
JESSICA: What’s the plan for the time off?
JANINE: It is not really ‘time off’. We will continue to run our mentoring program and develop products so that when we find the new place we are ready to go. We’ll continue with that, and run some English conversation classes in the background. A business needs a couple of years to become established, so we will be looking for seed funding. That’s the plan.
If anyone knows of a suitable space for our shop or knows anyone that can help, please contact us!