It's amazing and inspiring to see what these women have been able to achieve in such a short time; a template that we could apply across all our regional areas and even outer suburbs and neglected inner city spots. I'll let Ellie do the talking...
Let's start with the elevator pitch. What is Hey Maker! in a nutshell? Do you have a mission statement or goal?
Hey Maker! is a group of five passionate creative women who came together with the mission to change the the vacant spaces of our town, Murwillumbah, in Northern NSW. We are Jo Olive, Belinda Smith, Kathy Egan, Christy McLeod & Ellie Beck.
Our goal is to defy 'small town' thought about art and modern craft, and show people that the act of gathering and sharing in a creative manner can bring about change in any environment. We wanted to bring a little bit of inner-city zest into our beautiful art-deco streets.
Basically we facilitate pop-up art events and community gatherings, based around people's creative needs. We hope to show people that art, design and craft are accessible and affordable, and something that everybody can participate in (especially using recycled materials).
We are lucky that we live in one of the most creatively diverse regions outside of any metropolitan city in Australia. It must be the (extinct) volcano that drives such a strong artistic community. Most of these creatives live out in the hills, and work from their studios at home. We aim to bring those people into our town's cbd and share their love and handcrafted goods with the wider community.
Where is your shop and where do you hold your workshops? When can we start attending?
Our workshops and retail shop share the space harmoniously, with a cane lounge for enjoying a cup of tea, some crafting, and gossip! Our doors opened on the 12th October 2012. You can book workshops instore, or through our online shop.
I was amazed to read that 32 out of 70 shops in beautiful Murwillumbah are empty. How have you managed to secure some of these spaces? Was it difficult?
Hey Maker!'s aim is to help other creatives host their own pop-ups; we'd love to build relationships with the landlords and work together to change the look and economic situation of our town.
Have you had any support from your local council for this project? Are they also excited about creating an artistic hub in the town?
We've had a lot of support from our local Chamber of Commerce, and other organisiations from the valley and surrounding villages. We're forming connections and partnerships. There is lots of talk about a Creative Hub or Precinct for Murwillumbah, and council is very much a part of this.
How far is it to Murwillumbah from Brisbane, the Gold Coat and Ballina/Byron?
How long will you have your shop and workshops space open to the public?
Do you have any advice for other creative souls in regional areas or outer suburbs who would like to create their own art hubs?
Also - we took the chance on setting up a campaign through Pozible, and asking people to donate for our dream. Reaching our goal was wonderful - what was even better was connecting and meeting people, and finding our community. For us, community is really what it's all about.
Congratulations to Ellie and team on an amazing job. If you are in Northern NSW up until Christmas, make sure you check out the Hey Maker! website for workshops and store opening hours. This week kickis off a great series of Creative Business Talks featuring inspiring locals Jess van Den (Epheriell Designs), Peta O'Neill (Love Mae), Christy McLeod (Creative Village) and Jen Djula (Blue Caravan) - amazing! Maybe you can take inspiration from the Hey Maker! model for your own area? If you, do, please let me know!
Images: Hey Maker!