Hello Petal Cards, UNE Life, The Shop

Interview with Leanne Brien, The Shop

If you have visited the UNE Armidale campus and have stepped inside the glossy doors of UNE’s The Shop, you might understand when I say that you could lose a whole day exploring their products – I promise, that’s not even an understatement!

The Shop is our campus go to. Honestly, it has everything covered. It hosts a variety of stationery, study equipment, UNE merchandise, Books, eBooks, a Post Office, and essential grocery items for those living and working on-campus. However, The Shop also has a glorious amount of handcrafted, local, and sustainable products that just make our heart go boom! 💖

Now, we have been on a bit of an environmentally sustainable journey the past few weeks exploring and writing about the different ways you can tweak your lifestyle for the better of our environment. And so, we had to highlight a local business who has been on this ethical journey for quite some time now.

We spoke to The Shop manager Leanne Brien, about the sort of sustainable products you can purchase in-store, and the local producers and artists she supports. #LocalsSupportingLocals

Tell us about some of the sustainable products you stock?

We have a large variety of both UNE branded sustainable products and general gift/kitchen products. The range of UNE branded sustainable products includes items such as; stainless steel straws, eco pens, and a keep cup made from recycled corn husks (that you can also buy when you visit The Cafe on Campus). Also, our A5 bamboo notebook and pen are a crowd favourite!

In our giftware range we have the stock standard sustainable items like beeswax wraps, keep cups, straws, and sponge cloths. Some really cool and unique products we stock are;

  • Project Ten – who create the most stylish shopping bags from recycled plastic bottles.
  • And also, Somerside – who make the most amazing towels from 85% recycled bottles. These are just some of the sustainable products you can find in store!

You have some awesome products – how do you source your stock?

I spend a lot of time scouring through Instagram and Facebook looking for small businesses that we can support. It really is as simple as starting a conversation with the business to see if they would be interested in stocking their products with us. I’m a little old fashioned and love to flip through a magazine, and it’s surprising what products and ideas are generated from here.

What are some of the big ticks you look for when choosing a sustainable product to stock?

I may be a little selfish in this area… but I like to ask myself, “Is this something that I would use, and is it authentic?”

Our customers are becoming savvier when it comes to sustainability, and so we need to be on top of our game and ensure we deliver quality products. Price point and affordability is another big thing that I’m mindful of when purchasing, and I am constantly asking myself if I would pay that amount of money for that particular product.

How big is your focus on Australian made products?

BIG! Not only do we love buying Australian Made Products, but our customers LOVE to support them as well. We try to find distinctive products that may not be found in other shops. I am constantly searching for those unique items.

Speaking of unique… one of my favourite products that we have just begun stocking are these gorgeous cards from Hello Petal. They are 100% recycled cards embedded with Swan River daisy seeds that you can plant yourself. Their motto is “may your words of love bloom into wildflowers” – it’s too cute!!

Why is shopping locally so important during these tough times? 

It’s so important that we continue to strive to keep our community unique and awesome. So, I think this saying says it all “Use ’em before you Lose ’em….shop local” 

We are a not-for-profit business which means that the money our customers spend goes towards supporting the student experience at UNE. This in turn helps to bring students into Armidale either through the intensive periods or, residing locally.

Supporting local businesses is supporting local jobs. We currently employ five permanent staff and two students on a casual basis, and this increases during our peak periods like graduation or the beginning of a trimester. We, like many small businesses, pride ourselves on our customer service, and we want to make sure that our customers desire to come back for more.

A great example of locals supporting locals that I am really excited about is a recent collaboration with our local Westpac Branch. We are curating a range of hampers for some of their lucky customers on a monthly basis.

You feature a lot of local businesses in your shop, who are they and what sort of products do they sell?

We certainly do feature some fantastic local talent in our shop:

  • Anna Sutherland – Anna is an Australian textile designer creating colourful textiles, homewares, and accessories.
  • Wildheart Candles – they create amazing hand-poured candles.
  • Simone Hale – Simone is an illustrator and graphic designer who creates gorgeous local prints.
  • Lizzie Horne – who is a contemporary local printmaker.  We feature Lizzie’s cards and prints in-store.
  • Beautiful Bizarre Magazine – Danijela Krha Purssey is the Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, she also resides in the Armidale area and personally delivers her magazines to us.
  • Little Pink Dog Books – are based in Armidale and publish picture and storybooks for children.
  • Harvest Bliss – they offer a premium botanical skincare range.
  • Audrey and Olly – create a handmade jewellery range.
  • Dales Downtown Meats – are a local butcher from Uralla and make the most amazing range of Beef Jerky in a variety of different flavours.
  • Peg Leg Frida – creates hand-sewn products. We currently stock Peg Leg’s heat packs.
  • UNE Life Functions and Catering – have been creating handmade pickles, sauces, and chutneys. Watch this space – there will be lots more on offer from the team in-store soon!

If a designer or small business would like to contact you what is the best way to go about doing so?

Oh, gosh, we would love to hear from you, especially if you offer something unique and local! You can contact us via email any time!

Thanks so much for your time Lee, we’re so proud to have a The Shop on campus really supporting Town with Gown and adding so much vibrance to our little campus shop! 

You can visit The Shop online or if you’re on Campus, make sure your drop by and check out what local treats are in-store, they’re located opposite Lazenby Hall in the Ingrid Moses courtyard.

We would also love you to follow UNE Life on their Sustainability Journey