RAYLEE Allen’s dream of opening a retail collective featuring the handmade products of similarly crafty folk has finally bloomed in Floral and Spot.
The retro-style women’s fashion store recently opened in the Emporium in the Hunter Street Mall, and Allen, who has a background in workplace health and safety, is relishing her creative career change.
‘‘The feedback I am getting is that the shop is warm and inviting and it’s somewhere I would want to go – when I come in in the morning, I open the doors and smile,’’ says the mother-of-two.
Allen, a self-taught sewer whose nonna, or Italian grandmother, fuelled her passion for fabrics and needlework, makes one-off dresses in floral and spotted cotton cloth.
Her quirky creations are stocked alongside soaps and creams by The Goat Soap Lady, by Kristine Boland, bright tops and scarves made by Michelle Cree’s I Love Green label, Deb Hescott’s J’espere handbag range and Lady Land Studios jewellery. Allen describes her style as simple and functional: ‘‘I’m a busy mum and I still want to wear nice funky things, and things that are unique.’’
She aims to create a store environment that is ‘‘like a treasure hunt’’, with her bright window displays luring a customer to come in and see something unique at every turn.
‘‘Our point of difference is that we have things that you can’t find anywhere else,’’ she says.
With her big dream being to open her own single shopfront complete with a cafe and live entertainment, for now Ms Allen’s next project is to bring fabrics into her store to allow clients to choose their favourite cloth and frock style.
Housed in the ground floor of the former David Jones building, The Emporium is a Renew Newcastle project that opened in late 2012 and champions the design work of local makers.
At present, they include One Man’s Trash, homewares and art by Lloyd Kellett, VOUS modern womenswear by Renee Verdon and Jodie Louise Millinery, bespoke millinery by Jodie Thompson.
For more information on stores and exhibitions at The Emporium go to http://renewnewcastle爱杭州同城论坛/projects/project/the-emporium/.
CAREER CHANGE: Raylee Allen has moved into retailing with a new store that sells handmade products. Picture: Phil Hearne