The Start Up Files is a series that aims to find out where good ideas come from and how they happen. Each fortnight we chronicle the journey of someone who brought their idea to life through the Renew Adelaide program. In this article, we chat to Sue Fenwick, cofounder of recycled craft studio The Adelaide Remakery.
Sue Fenwick was a freelance writer who needed to supplement her income. As she was a talented crafter the solution was simple. Start a market stall.
Not long after she started selling her handmade creations, she met fellow stall holder Helen Rooney. With a mutual passion for art, sustainability and all things handmade, it wasn’t long before a friendship was formed.
As the pair became more involved in the market scene they connected with other like minded people. Together they formed a supportive community that would exchange advice and encouragement to collectively boost the success of their stalls.
Wanting to break out of the market scene, several members of the group decided to form a handmade artist’s collective and apply for a commercial studio space. While the studio fell through, Sue and Helen knew they were on the cusp of a good idea. All they needed was concept with a stronger focus.
The clicking moment came when Sue and Helen were browsing social media and stumbled upon The Edinburgh Remakery. As they read more about the remakery movement, they realised it encompassed a lot of what they were trying to achieve.
“The concept of a remakery is to reuse all of the resources we already have rather than creating new resources. The way we’ve interpreted that is by selling beautiful products that have been remade.”
“It also includes things like repair, altering items so they can be used in a different way – upcycling, learning how to do all of those things including making things and having a community around that and being able to sell the resources that would otherwise go into landfill or op shops that are already overrun by materials.”
By taking the concept of the remakery movement and adapting it into a for profit business model, the idea for The Adelaide Remakery was born. It would feature a retail space selling handmade goods made from predominately recycled materials. In the studio they would host workshops where people could learn how to make their own upcycled items. The Adelaide Remakery would also be a community, they would involve their market friends and other local artists through selling their products and inviting them to host workshops.
Feeling that they now had the strong concept they needed, Sue and Helen decided to go for it. Through Renew Adelaide, they were able to secure a rent free space on
Young St that turned out to be in the perfect location.
“It was very well received. We didn’t realise it at the time when we opened but we were actually right across the road from the Department of Environment so there were 900 people in that building who were very keen to see us succeed.”
Today, the Adelaide Remakery is still going strong. Sue currently runs the business by herself, which has since moved to a larger building across the road. Having a larger space allows for more workshops and events which contribute to the community feel that makes The Adelaide Remakery what it is.
“In a big workshop where people don’t already know eachother people often come just to have fun and get to know other people. There has been a couple of times where people have come in and they’ve either become our friends or they’ve made friends within the group.”