When the coronavirus pandemic indefinitely closed down Sydney’s markets this year, many makers found they had no place to sell their wares. This was the problem Sydney artist Julia Fantini faced before she took matters into her own hands and opened Artisans’ Nest, a boutique on Newtown’s vibrant King Street.
The Newtown local says the idea to launch a boutique for makers in the same situation came to her on a walk down King Street one morning. “I saw this space was for lease,” she tells Broadsheet “I got in touch with Stephie [Stephanie Gray of Erlenmeyer Art] and Teresa [Tere Castro of Olicas Art and Design]. We met for a coffee, had a walk down King Street and created a partnership.”
After signing the lease, the three new micro-business owners came up with the branding and set about transforming the space. With the help of some locals and a generous network of friends and family, they sourced their producers, built the shelving, designed and painted the shop, and opened the doors within two weeks.
“We had all been selling online but that is not a quick replacement for people used to selling at the markets every week. Our business model is very basic. We rent out the shelving space and sell the products on behalf of the makers. It’s like Etsy but in a real-life shop.”
And it’s a gorgeous space (Fantini’s background in architecture came in handy) – it’s light-filled and airy and, while it’s not enormous, you can easily get lost in there for hours. The range of products is so diverse it’s like a micro-market artfully disguised as a breezy boutique. Scattered artfully around the space is a mix of fashion, homewares, stationery, jewellery, ceramics, skincare and gifts.
Up the back of the store you’ll find Scout. The Label specialising in womenswear designed and made by hand in Sydney – think wide-legged linen pants and soft cotton shirts. Holabolla is a sustainable activewear label making leggings and tops from – among other materials – recycled plastic bottles. Jewellery designer Danica Moorcroft presses coral into silver and gold to create impressions in the metal, and Caroline from Mitchell Maker sources silver from op shops to create tiny dishes, spoons and jewellery. There are bath bombs, dried floral wreaths, ceramics, air plants and more. It’s a treasure trove: the deeper you look, the more you’ll find.
“The locals have been loving it.” Fantini says of the response to the Newtown store. “They love the backstory and supporting local artists.”
216 King Street, Newtown
Mon to Wed 10am–6pm