By the time we go live with the site, this post might be buried a bit back, visible only to those very keen types who like to read everything and enjoy a good ramble, which is a relief. Hey, you. Hi.

So this might be a bit of a winding and long rehearsal to the about us page. The what, why, etc., we are doing this.

My sister and I have been helping out with Mum's shop, Green Seeds Temora, for a while now. Who knows what Mum was thinking when she decided to open a fair trade, ethical and sustainable oriented homewares store in the country, but she went ahead and did it and we are all still alive. She opened in 2009, in rural NSW and that's a bit of a particular experience to learn from in itself. I'll probably get into that some other day. No - wait, I'll get right back to it in 5 seconds. So while we were always working other jobs, we were always helping out here and there, and after a while for better or worse, pushing the business along in newer directions to see if different things would work. Then, because things move so slow in retail after the honeymoon period associated with the Arrival Of Something New in Town, in 2012 we opened a cafe in half of the shop space that wasn't being used. So if retail was a challenge, hospitality was going to be ridiculous. I know we had haters. And laughers. But. We stuck it out, nutted it out with the help of family and friends, and a couple of years in, it's going well. We're making it work. And I think more than anything for Mum, it's a lot more busy. You move, you talk to people, and you keep busy in a way that you couldn't in retail. And this is a story about retail, so back to that...

We had some short stints of good times (that should read SALES), and plenty of fails, and mostly just not much happening at all moments, and that is the the thing about rural retail - it's pretty hard, even for the most passionate. And I mean that even though everyone in retail wherever says it's hard but really, it's true. Unless you are a business that people need to go to very often for important things, such as a newsagents or a chemist or a hardwares store - and in Temora they ALL SELL HOMEWARES AND GIFTY SHIT BTW, then shit is special hard. Them cutting your homewares retail grass is just piped icing on cupcakes. In winter in the afternoon, the streets are dead. Like in the afternoon, nobody is out. And in Summer, when it's 37 degrees all of January and half of Feb, except for the travellers passing through, nobody is out. So hedge on Autumn and Spring when people are not under heating and cooling lockdowns. It's a good thing Temora is a good stopping spot for travellers because they formed a significant customer base for us, especially since the cafe has opened.

Brands that sell so well in Melbourne, that were to us, refreshing and cool and hip  you know and just obviously sensible choices compared to the typical cluttery-homewaresy-trinkety stuff you may as well buy from the cheap $2 shop just didn't move quite like we hoped. Or things would move well at the start, but with the level of stock you had to buy to meet a minimum order, it was like it was always too much for us. With a small customer base, it was hard to keep things feeling new. So really, thank goodness for those travellers, who would walk in and be familiar with the The Dharma Door, or Robert Gordon, or Just Ask Alice, or Apple & Bee, and buy because they knew that our products weren't actually expensive at all compared to 'what you'd pay in the city'.

So, I think where I'm headed with this is that the next thing we wanted to do was try and sell online, because we knew that all the things we sell are popular online, so why not? Logical but not exaclty that simple. Without resources to go all out and become a marketplace in the homewares, lifestyle sector, it's probably a bit silly. It could work, but did I mention I don't actually live in Temora? Oops. I live in Melbourne, and that made all the essential ingredients like keeping on top of orders, and stock inventory, everyday logistics and social media a bit of a nagging 3 way about who is doing what. We put the store online but I learnt pretty quickly the limitations to that. It wasn't a business solution and ultimately it wasn't my store.

Anyhow, after I got back from a bit of an overseas holiday in July, Mum put it to Megan and I if we'd formally like to take over the retail side of business. Yes! I said! That will solve everything! I thought! Until I thought about it, went to Life Instyle, and thought some more, and came to understand where both Megan I really, honestly wanted to take the business and what that would mean. Mum is into natural products. She'd buy stuff like hemp string, and coconut string, and she makes her own beeswax candles. I am fascinated by what you can make with those things! I think it has heavily influenced my interest in artisans, in fair trade crafts and homewares, in how natural fibres are used to make everyday objects for the home, but also for items which transcend and become pieces of art. That is where I'm at, and I think Megan is somewhat too. Gee, she'd better be!

So that is how String Harvest was born. Oh shit, I forgot to say we both had babies/career existential crises and, you know, what next moments. That's probably important context. And so why? Because we honestly think there should be a special place to celebrate natural fibres in craft, the artisans that make them from raw materials, the crafts people and artists who make stuff. They're about more than stationery accessories for giftwrapping, or marking out vegetable plots, even though they are completely valid use for natural twines and strings. So, a marketplace for natural fibres and materials, that is not a *cough* duopoly craft store *cough* nor, *cough* a website for a craft shop that is as cluttered, and also that particular deep shade of purple and flashy clip art gifs (sorry), where stuff is technically for sale, but much like the stores themselves, devoid of price tags, and I'll see if we have some out the back. 

So this is our response to that retail environment and a chance to do it hopefully a bit better. A bit more inspiring, a bit more modern, a bit more easy and a bit more fun.  And also because business should be flexible like this.

I think that's all. Now be gentle, and don't cry Mum! xx

August 14, 2015 — Cassie Harris