Student and alumni entrepreneurs are working with RMIT to showcase a range of jewellery, fashion and craft businesses.
For two years, the RMIT Design Market has provided opportunities for students and alumni to operate businesses from one of the busiest shopping centres in Victoria, through a partnership with Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.
For emerging designers and entrepreneurs, it’s been a rare opportunity to grow a strong customer base while gaining valuable business experience.
But these pop-up stalls now have a new home in RMIT’s brand new Retail Activation District, part of the New Academic Street (NAS) precinct.
Kelly Bosman, Project Manager of Student Experience for NAS, said: “We were so excited to have Melbourne Central on board for the RMIT Design Markets, as they provided a fantastic retail position free of charge.
"Now we're moving to the next stage of this initative, and bringing our designers and entrepreneurs home to RMIT.
“Our new RAD PODs will provide testing grounds for student and alumni businesses without the financial burden of renting shop space in the city.”
Students, staff and alumni can now apply to operate the temporary sites, to sell food, beverage and retail products from the heart of the City campus.
More than 80 stallholders have participated in the Design Markets to date, which also enable disruptive designers to build platforms for a variety of unique, sustainable and innovative product ideas.
Ahead of the final market at the City campus on Wednesday 20 September, RMIT News features previous stallholders who epitomise what it means to run a small business with a social conscience.
Sapling Candle Co.
The Sapling Candle Co. is a natural soy candle company created by Bachelor of Business (Marketing) student Emily Leviston.
Leviston and her mother spent months sampling and testing their product to achieve a durable, environmentally friendly and beautifully scented range of candles. 100 per cent of profits are donated to disadvantaged communities in Asia.
“I hope to fund community workers who teach women how to sew, put children into homes rather than orphanages,” Leviston said.
Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours) student Cesar Marulanda grew up in Columbia, where he found a passion for rock climbing, music and art. Years later he moved to Melbourne and has been producing artworks from recycled material ever since.
He's now using this skill to create wallets and bags from discarded plastic bags, and sell these accessories to the public. “This proves there is no need for extracting more crude oil to create polymer based materials,” Marulanda said.
Through his business AORECREO, Marulanda hopes to promote sustainable living by organising recycling workshops to be held globally.
Harry & Jane
Emily Shaw studied small business management at RMIT and now runs her own eco-friendly homewares company, Harry & Jane.
She sells small, raw, handcrafted pieces such as magazine stands, door stops, tea lights and phone stands. All products are made from reclaimed Golden Cypress Timber, going against the grain of today’s mass-produced consumer goods.
Since participating in the RMIT Design Market, local homeware retailers now stock Harry & Jane products.
No Normal Girls
Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) student Olivia Reinbold started her own clothing label after she was diagnosed with a chronic illness.
“I was searching for an avenue to give all girls hurting like myself a sense of inclusion within their struggles,” she said.
The purpose of No Normal Girls has now expanded to empower and support all women by appreciating the lack of a unified normal. Reinbold works from her garage to silk screen print her designs which she says are “sensual, artistic and relatable”.
Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) graduate Kiaya Lee Bryne is an emerging textiles artist hailing from country NSW.
Working out of Toast Workrooms in Brunswick, Bryne creates prints, tee-shirts and accessories influenced by old architectural elements and suburban landscapes of Melbourne's inner-city suburbs.
Her latest range, Home Sweet, aims to depict the shapes of Melbourne’s western suburbs – in particular Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray.
Missed out on the RMIT Design Markets? We’ll be hosting one more on 20 September, as part of CelebrateRMIT.
Story: Oliver Gregurek