Our Story

Stories tell us who we are. They influence us in various ways at different times in our lives. They can inspire us, move us, make us feel sad or fill us with hope. In their telling, they give life to our private world and connect us with others. Some stories are hidden away until the time is right, and some just need to be told.

We all have many different stories to tell but are often shared only when we feel safe.

Abdi must have felt safe when he was sitting at Janine Lawrie’s kitchen table. Janine, a fashion designer was looking for someone to make her designs locally, Abdi, a recently arrived refugee from Somalia was a tailor in need of work. A mutual friend brought Janine and Abdi together and over a cup of tea Abdi told his story.

Abdi had spent his youth in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing his war torn home-land in Somalia. After thinking he’d lost his family, he was reunited with them in Australia. Abdi told Janine that his dream was to set up a tailoring business.

As a newly arrived refugee with few connections, Abdi struggled with this new language, culture and system, and had no idea where to start. He needed a friend and Janine became that friend.

In that meeting a seed was sown, and from that seed, Space2b grew.

Connections, Community & Opportunities

It’s a simple idea – fostering connections, building community and creating opportunities. A social enterprise where people exchange skills, mentor, share their stories and dreams while helping to improve their English.

Our mission, is for newly arrived people to become confident enough to start a small business using their own unique talents and skills, support their family, and contribute to the vitality of our communities. We all have something unique and different to offer, and Space2b is an opportunity to support people to feel important and valued in our community.

Launch of Space2B

From its launch in the City of Port Phillip in 2013, Space2b has made a big splash running workshops and holding exhibitions. With two successful pop up shops, in 2015 and 2016, Space2b now has a permanent home at 144 Chapel Street Balaclava behind St Kilda Primary School.

Space2b now has a permanent shop-front and gallery providing retail exposure for 50 local artists, refugee and newly arrived migrant designers.

Janine & Mariam

Janine Lawrie’s partner in Space2b is Mariam Issa, a refugee from Somalia. Mariam is an author, corporate speaker, activist and founder of RAW (Resilient Aspiring Women). Based in Melbourne, RAW is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting community, culture and cuisine. Mariam also manages to fit in being a mother of five!  The partnership is a perfect marriage of hearts and minds.

This dynamic pair have built an amazing community and are supported by a small staff of volunteers.